Cooking Up Content: A Recipe for Success

Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone…  (Taps microphone.  Looks over at James, miming, ‘is this on?’)  Good day, Skyrocketeers, we have cooked up something special for you today.  

Skyrocket has invited Nick Eubanks.

2-21-13-chef

(hip hop reference alert)

 

Maybe you know him from cooking up content crack    all.

  over.

the.                                                                                                                                                                             web.

He’s added more than a dash of insight to our blog, lending his content chef mastery to our eyes, long-term memories, and (hopefully) implementations.

Baking and content are two interests of mine, and the following words, especially those focused on finding and perfecting your own voice, impressed me and certain to stir your content taste buds.  Enjoy and remember, how can you have your pudding if you don’t .. 

it’s out the oven ..

 

In this post I am going to lay out a simple process for creating useful content that builds links and grows your audience.

In my experience a lot of the difficulties people experience with getting their content out there can be addressed early on in the content life-cycle, so if you’re struggling to get your content noticed and engage your target audience, this is for you.

cooking up content prep list

A bit of extra preparation on the front-end, spending the time to identify who your audience is and what resonates most with them specifically, can 2x or even 3x your results.

Ingredients

4 Parts Research
2 Parts Writing
2 Parts Graphics
3 Cups of Promotion
10 Ounces of Maintenance

Bring a Large Pot of Research to a Boil

Bring Keyword Research to a Full BoilSo the first step in this recipe is going to be preparing your research to inform regarding post topic, content, and keyword targets.

Audience – Your audience is the most important part of creating successful content. If you don’t speak their language, hit on topics that resonate with them, or provide information that is of direct value, then you’ve missed your mark and might as well not have created anything at all.

I realize to many I’m restating the obvious, however, I still see new posts every week that miss the mark; the author didn’t analyze their readers, or failed to research the general sentiment and language of content that has historically performed, so it seems warranted to make this point yet again.

Topic – What are you writing about? SEO? Oh cool, why should I care? Are you presenting me with a new piece of information or a new perspective on an existing topic? If not, then you probably should pick another topic.

Just because you want to rank for a certain topic doesn’t mean you should start writing about it. I realize that is completely counter-intuitive to what you’ve heard up until this point, but there are an estimated 500,000 new posts each day  and the signal to noise ratio is very low, so chances are you’re not adding enough value.

I’m not saying don’t write; I’m saying you need to have a genuine purpose  – you need to think about what you’re adding to a conversation, especially if you’re going to revisit an existing topic.

Keywords – As any SEO already knows, leveraging search to help drive visits to your content is a win win. Once you’ve done your keyword research, you need to think outside the box about how you can approach your content topics with your keywords in mind.

Keep it contextual and never shoehorn in keywords just for the sake of them being there; nothing looks more awkward than a sentence stuffed full of keywords.

When I’m doing post-level keyword research I refer back to my keyword matrix for the particular category I’m writing for and then use tools like ubersuggest and SerpIQ to help me dig up closely related keywords and synonyms to choose which words best convey my point.

Tip: Layer Your Research – Once you’ve got a good handle on your audience, topic, and your target keywords, start putting these together in a preliminary outline. Think of how you are going to structure your post so you convey the high points you want to hit on and deliver the value your audience is craving. If you are focusing on concepts closely related to the topic, you’ll be surprised how many of your target keywords come naturally, after all, this is exactly what contextual relevance is all about.

In a Large Skillet Brown Your Writing Over Medium Heat

cooking-content-skillet

What I’m getting at here is that you need to give your content time to simmer.. what does that mean? To put it simply, do not publish your content the same day you write it, and furthermore, don’t publish it until you have read it, in it’s entirety, at least 10 times.

I’m serious, 10 times.

I can almost guarantee that every time you read your post, you will find edits, you will cut out unnecessary fat or find an idea needs further clarification.  The process of editing and refining is what separates the good content chefs from the great ones.

Beyond a perpetual process of editing (sometimes I read something I wrote 6 months ago that I will dive back into and edit because it could be better), you need to pay close attention to your tone and your voice.

I realize this is significantly harder done than said, and finding your voice is can be the single hardest part of creating content, so start by focusing on your tone:

  • Does your writing come across as confident or arrogant?
  • Do you sound informed or pretentious?
  • Are you building a case for your point or are you ranting?

Take an objective approach to editing for you audience based on what’s working.

Bake In Your Graphics

Bake graphics into your contentImagery is important to human beings; it’s how our brains connect new ideas to ones we already understand. One of the quickest ways to do this is to use images that can be related to your content, a popular example of imagery in SEO is using pictures of tree’s and forests when talking about evergreen content, which I myself am guilty of.

But you can take this a step further, try to use images that abstract your content into something more common or tangible to your readers.

If you’re writing about choosing the best x, use a picture of a fruit stand (lots of choices and most people are used to looking for the best one), or for a post on process like how to use y to do z, use a picture that implies a reaction like holding a match near a matchbox by a candle (the brain will make the connection between striking the match and then lighting the candle).

When it comes to content marketing human psychology is still psychology, and as complex as the human brain is, leveraging sub-conscious pretext is not as tough as you may think.

For those times when you just can’t find what you need, I take the road less traveled and make my own graphics. I am not a graphic designer by a long shot, but having even a simple understanding of image editing software like Photoshop or Fireworks can go a long way when it comes to creating custom graphics.

content strategy burger

Source: Intersection Consulting

Preheat Your Promotion to 500 Degrees

There are a lot of smart ways to promote your content, but here are 3 steps you can take beforehand to ensure your content receives more exposure at the time you publish:

  1. Heat Up Relevant Influencers – Every niche has a group of influential people, and some niches have more people than others. Some influencers are douchebags not very nice, but some are fantastic – these people are happy to help promote genuinely useful content that is relevant to their audience, but they have to know about it. I’m not suggesting you bombard them with emails or tweets, but maybe drop them a quick note to let them know how your content is useful to their audience, and ask them to share it if they believe it adds value.
  2. Turn Up Your Social Circles – Again, this is a proactive approach to leverage your friends, peers, and followers before you publish. Give them a sense of what you’ve got in the works and ask them for feedback, if possible send them a draft and consider their feedback, it will only serve to enhance your content’s reach and relevance.
  3. Target Existing Content – This is research intensive, but the concept is you identify content that is already out there, already performing, that is weak on references for your topic. Every piece of well researched, well written content is a chance to create a reference point. Reference points get links far into the future, and this approach comes at the concept from the opposite direction; building links retroactively. So if you’re writing about a specific strategy for outreach that hasn’t been covered much or covered well, find existing content that mentions the strategy but doesn’t contain links to reference sources. Contact the content manager, site owner, or author and pitch them on why your content adds value to their post.

Garnish With  Maintenance

content garnishTo round out this dish, you need make sure you add relative maintenance into the recipe. This is not applicable for all content, but definitely for evergreen posts.

Beyond ensuring that your content remains perpetually useful, this also affords you the opportunity to keep your content relevant for as long as possible and possibly trigger time-sensitive search engine signals, like QDF, by adding in new, relevant, time-related information as it comes out.

As a general best practice, go back and re-read your content every 3 to 4 months, a lot of times you will find that due to new information or improved strategies your content has become dated, and is not as useful as it could be. Take the time to update any inconsistencies to ensure that your content is just as useful today as it was the day it was published.

Serve While Hot

When you publish your content hit all of your social channels and automate some of your promotion using tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule tweets in advance.

I generally recommend tweeting 3x the day you publish, twice the day after, once 3 days after and then again after a week. The idea here is not to annoy your active stream followers but to hit different people at different times. Not everyone uses social media the same time and there’s a good chance that your followers want to read your stuff, they just may have not seen it.

I hope you found this post useful, please let me know what  you think in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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