April 24, 2018
Oceans of content. The Internet is such a crowded place. And if someone conducts a Google search for anything, s/he will get pages and pages of results.
If your job is to create content, you may be feeling the stress. The competition for readers/viewers is as tough as it can get, and only going to get tougher.
So, what can you do? You can stay current, for one thing. Content creation has evolved over the years, and every new year brings newer technology, tools, and search engine algorithms that will be used to rank content.
And every year readers and viewers have bigger demands if they are to soak up some writer’s content.
Let’s look at some of the trends and strategies that will “rock” content in 2018
- Stop Writing for Search Engines – Write for Your Audience
Everyone want a high ranking with search engines. And so, they use all of the tactics possible to get “noticed” by those engine bots – get just the right keywords in the right places, try to make them appear natural, and hope that those keywords and phrases are what people are typing in their searches.
Socrates said “All things in moderation.” So it goes with keywords.
And Google has many other criteria when it comes to indexing content.
A content writer’s focus must be on crafting the most amazing pieces ever – pieces that will engage, entertain, and/or inspire their readers so much that they have to share it. If the content is unique and valuable to readers, it will naturally become unique and valuable to Google.
- Try Out Many Different Content Forms
Text is the least favorite form of content with an Internet audience that now has an attention span of about eight seconds. If you don’t rope them in during that time span, you have lost them.
Visuals of any kind are the key to getting attention and keeping it – one of the reasons video is so powerful. But you can use drawings, sketches, infographics, podcasts, PowerPoints and Webinars too.
Experiment with AR and VR too. There are now some great tools that let you create those kinds of experiences for audiences, and the competition is looking into it for sure. 2018 promises to be the year in which consumers come to demand augmented and virtual reality as they choose which content to access and share.
- Cross-Promote our Content
If you have a content topic that you know is “killer” and that your audience will love if it just can find it, use every approach you can to get it out there.
Maybe you have an e-book that you are promoting on your site and in your blog posts. Offer it as an “upgrade” to visitors if they will subscribe to your email list; promote it on your social media channels as a freebie, along with an opt-in form.
Provide snippets and teasers of the content on social media and to your email subscribers too. Create a short video that introduces the topic with a link to get the e-book and opt-in.
- Always Focus on Audience Context
No one reads or views content unless they think there is something in it for them. If you show them the value very quickly in, they will stay and read/view. And in showing them that value, you also have to educate, entertain, or inspire. This is what your competition is striving for – who will win out?
- Mobile is King
When you search for something on your mobile device, what do you want to see? You want a fast load; you do not want to have to squint to see small print on a small screen; and you really don’t want lots of print at all.
Google now has a “mobile first” policy. This means that it will index content created for phones and other mobile devices first before indexing content that is crafted for PC use.
For content writers, this means making sure that audiences will have easy, seamless, and great experiences when they pull of their content. While this may be a design and development issue to a large degree, it is also a content issue. Again, less text and more visual, and any text must be in very small chunks.
- More Use of Analytics
How do you know what content is resonating with your audience? You don’t, unless you are using great analytics tools to determine responses to what you are producing.
If a piece of content is not getting a lot of views and shares, why not? How can you take the same topic and put it in different form to try again?
If a piece of content is obviously popular, how can you re-furbish it into different forms and publish it again?
Even content topics that are old, if they were popular, should be resurrected and re-published.
- Some “Rules” are Timeless
If you must have amounts of text, you know what you have to do. Present text in very small chunks, with bullets and numbering; break text up with visuals and bold headings.
And don’t forget that the average reading audience want simplicity. Use a good readability tool so that you are not going beyond a 7th grade reading level.
Title and first sentences must be amazing. This is one of the reasons why Upworthy is so popular. That staff often spends as much time coming up with a title as it does crafting the actual content.
- Be Funny and Weird
If you have not checked out Wendy’s Twitter feed, you must. We have always been taught that the customer must be nurtured and respected. But here is what has happened of late. When customer get a bit “snarky” with Wendy’s, Wendy’s gets a bit snarky back. And their target audience is loving it.
Also check out the explainer video on the Dollar Shave Club website. It’s a bit irreverent, but hilarious, and it put that company “on the map” within 24 hours of publishing.
You know your audience and hopefully you know the type of humor they appreciate. Use it. And don’t be afraid to get a bit weird.
- Use News Items if Possible
Not long ago, a content writer was creating a post about appealing to Generation Z, that group that is still in middle and high school but will soon become a huge group of consumers (28 actually). She used the Parkland, Florida shooting and its aftermath as a way to demonstrate how this generation, once it is committed to something, will take action and lots of it, and how it intends to use its voting power in the future to get what its wants. This has lots of implications for businesses and for content marketers.
So, here are nine writing challenges you will need to meet in 2018. If you are already meeting some of them, great. But do not overlook any of them. Start figuring out how you can craft content that will be that competitive edge.