The web thrives on content.
When you create content for your website regularly, some fun things start to happen!
Google has an insatiable appetite for content – but not just “any” content. It needs to be what their searchers want and it needs to hit all the right spots so that people don’t just click through to your website and then click straight back to Google.
If that happens, you’ll drop like a stone in the search results.
So how can you create content for your website on a regular basis and not run out of steam?
The first thing to remember is that creating content shouldn’t be a chore.
I think part of the trouble most of us have with writing content for our blogs and our websites is the memory of school.
You had an essay to write on a subject that you were kind-of interested in. But there were so many other things you could be doing that you kept putting off writing the essay until the last minute (maybe later).
Which didn’t put you in the best mood to put pen to paper or, if you’ve been to school more recently than me, putting electrons on a screen.
On top of that, school essays have certain style guidelines and if you didn’t adhere to those, your grades went down.
The good news is (and someone really should have told you this) – you’re not writing essays now!
It’s a mindset switch that you need to make.
I’m pretty certain you can reply to a text or an email without breaking out into a cold sweat.
You could almost certainly talk to a real life person about whatever it is you want to cover. OK, some of the geekier types like me might find that a struggle initially but we’d get there in the end.
But you stall like a deer in headlights when it comes to creating content to add to your website.
Here’s the secret
Unless your website is about the nuances of English grammar, your readers don’t much care about whether or not you’ve dotted all your i’s, crossed your t’s, put apostrophes in all the right places and followed all those strict grammar rules that never quite made sense anyway.
Your readers and website visitors want answers.
I had a stuck radiator valve the other day – not a good thing to have in the middle of winter.
Now I’m not known for being practical so this was a step too far in real life.
But I went to YouTube and searched.
The first video that came up was from a plumber.
He wasn’t using perfect English – his London accent saw to that.
The video went in and out of focus occasionally as his phone camera (or whatever he was using) struggled to keep up with where he was pointing it.
It went slightly skewiff every now and then as he changed angle.
But it told me what needed to happen so I could let my D-I-Y friend know that he almost certainly didn’t need to change the whole valve, just take it to bits, free up a pin and put it back together again.
I even remembered that the plumber had said you could hit the pin with a hammer and get away with it, contrary to popular belief. He’d been doing that for 40 years with no disasters.
Was the video Hollywood quality?
Was the English perfect?
Absolutely no way.
Was it a good video?
And that’s all that counts when one room in your house is far too many degrees colder than it should be.
The same goes for your website.
Your readers don’t much care about the finer details.
Sure, if your spelling is so bad that it would make Chaucer seem consistent then it could be worth getting a friend to check it over.
Or use the easier option of running the spelling and grammar checker built in to nearly every word processor this century.
For me, spell checking is something I only do occasionally when I’m not totally sure how a word should be spelled – for instance, I double checked skewiff before I used it.
And grammar checking I know I’ll fail on so I tend to ignore the suggestions for that.
Yes – that previous sentence would fail a grammar check. Starting sentences with “And” isn’t considered good form in written English even though most of us do it when we’re speaking.
Which leads on to the next point:
Create content as though you’re explaining it to a friend
It doesn’t matter that you’ve never met the “friend”, even on Facebook.
It doesn’t matter that they’re somewhere else in the country or the world.
It doesn’t matter in the slightest.
Because at the moment they’re reading your content or watching your video, in their mind, they’re your friend.
You’re helping them out.
Or at least you should be.
Sure, there may well be an ulterior motive.
You could well want to sell them something or, depending on your business model, get them to join your email list.
But first and foremost you want them to react well to your content and probably the easiest way to do that is to get them to think of you as a friend.
How can you do that?
Start by not thinking of this as a chore.
And it doesn’t much matter how you initially create your content.
Decide on the best way for you to create content for your website.
Then morph it to something that keeps Google happy.
Which means that eventually it needs to turn into words.
Lots of them.
Scary as it may sound at the moment, 2000 words or more per page is a good target.
That’s not me plucking a figure out of the air.
It’s a study that Neil Patel did on the average page length of pages that showed up on the first page of Google.
Sure, there will be exceptions to that.
You’ll be able to find pages with minimal content showing up.
But that doesn’t mean the study is wrong.
There are exceptions to most rules – think of all those smokers who smoke pack after pack and live to a ripe old age.
It just means you’re tipping the balance in your favour:
- Google has more things to rank you for.
- You’ll almost certainly automatically include long tail keyword phrases in your content
- You’ll almost certainly meet more search criteria, even if you weren’t really trying
- Your website will look “meatier” rather than just a slim pamphlet that’s made it online. Which will give your site visitors more of a sense of security that you know what you’re talking about, even if they don’t read every word you’ve written
Does it have to be written content?
It could be video or audio.
But if it’s either of those, I’d suggest paying someone on Fiverr to transcribe it for you.
I’ve had up to 15 minutes of audio transcribed for the basic fee and it was done well. They even highlighted the words (local town names) they struggled with) so I could easily search and amend the file.
If you speak normally, you’ll probably find that 10 or 15 minutes of speech will be a decent length article.
Or you could brave something like Windows speech to text – it’s free, it works reasonably well but you need to activate it as Microsoft don’t activate it by default. Just do a quick search and you’ll get help for your version of Windows.
It’s been available since Windows XP so it will almost certainly work with your PC.
Mac users are bound to have something similar and probably better – that’s the arty nature of the Mac.
Or you could get a commercial program like Dragon.
But I’d still suggest checking out the free Windows option first, just to make sure that you get along with the idea of speech to text in the first place.
Getting ideas for content
Logically, your blog or website should be something you’re actually interested in.
Otherwise whatever you do for it is going to seem like a slog and you’ll become a master procrastinator in record time.
That even goes if it’s for work – if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, why are you doing it?
There are ideas for content everywhere.
It doesn’t always have to be directly related to your site or business – the numerous surveys that are quoted in newspapers are proof of that.
Here are some ways you can get ideas:
- Start typing a few words in Google. I go into this in more detail here but essentially all you need to do is use the suggestions that come up as you type or scroll to the end of the page to check out related phrases
- Read a forum or two in your niche. Chances are there’s a forum or a sub-forum that covers your niche. Check out the common questions – the ones you’ve seen so often you could answer them in your sleep as well as the uncommon questions that crop up every now and then
- Check out sites like WikiHow, Buzzfeed, Reddit and even Wikipedia (that will lead you off at tangents faster than you can blink but can give you some good ideas
- Sign up for Google Alerts. Be precise, otherwise you’ll get flooded with alerts. You can even drill down to specific sites – Terry Kyle did this when he recently launched a new site which saved him having to constantly log on to the site and monitor threads but meant it looked as though that’s what he was doing.
- Search for top 10 lists. They don’t have to be top 10 – the number isn’t important and top 100 would give you even more ideas. Then expand on them (don’t plagiarise!) and make them your own
- If you’ve got a list. pay attention to what’s being asked, which emails are being opened most (this isn’t a precise science but it will help) and the occasional person who sends you questions. If you’re feeling brave, invite questions!
- Hold a Hangout. I nearly said webinar there but Google Hangouts is cheaper and (I’m told) works fine. I’ve yet to do a Hangout but that’s just me being scared of something that almost certainly isn’t really scary.
- Create a video. Programs like Screencast-o-matic are free or cheap and let you create a video that you can upload to YouTube. Creating a video forces you into teacher mode. And contrary to the phrase “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” this really works. It forces you to go back to basics and work out what you’re really doing. In the videos and products I’ve created, I’ve discovered or rediscovered so much that it’s quite incredible. Try it for yourself.
Don’t be perfect
Perfection is the anti-hero in all this.
Sure, you want to get your website content to a reasonable standard.
But don’t let that get in the way of actually publishing it.
Think back to the plumber I mentioned earlier.
He wouldn’t get any more views if he set up a studio, made the lighting perfect and rehearsed his lines.
That’s not what counts.
The same goes for written content.
For your first few posts you’ll probably want to read them through before you hit the publish button.
And if you do that, so long as there aren’t too many critical people within earshot, I’d strongly suggest reading it out loud.
But after a while, you’ll do like I do and type or record and hit “publish”.
Will I re-read this article after typing it? Probably not. Because I’ve done enough of these to be able to get away with it.
Will I correct any typos that have slipped through? Maybe. But, for me at least, chances are that my proof-read-whilst-typing style will have spotted the vast majority of them.
That comes with time.
Whe you’re just starting, sure, proof read.
But don’t spend forever on that.
It’s much, much better to get your content out there than it is to have it languishing unpublished.
That doesn’t do anyone any good – you, your potential readers, Google, the world at large.
Ideas are worth nothing until they’re acted on.
It’s much better to get something out there – you can always improve on it later if it gets enough traction – rather than thinking “that’s going to be great one day” but that day never comes.
Go for it!
Start by creating a new piece of content.
Ideally now, while it’s fresh in your mind to do it.
And imagine how good you’ll feel when you press the publish button!
It’s a good feeling.
Even if your first few pieces of content don’t get many visitors.
Because creating content isn’t a one-off thing.
You need to do it reasonably regularly so that it builds up into something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.
And after a while it starts to become more like fun and less like a chore.
Or if it doesn’t then you need to decide a different direction or hire someone in to take care of creating more content.