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6 Essential Ingredients to Compelling Online Content

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There's a lot that goes into great online content. In this article, I've compiled six of my top ingredients to compelling, effective content that will help you achieve all of your content marketing goals and objectives. We live in a digital age where practically everyone Google searches to get the answers they need. Here's how to write content to maximize the likelihood of being found in search engines and get your prospects to take action.

1. Know your audience and create buyer personas

You need to have a thorough understanding of who you're writing for and what their needs, desires, and pain points are. This way, you can make sure the content you're writing is tailored for them. Here is a great template that you can use for creating your buyer personas. Also be sure to know your goal(s) and what you hope to achieve by writing the content. And, of course, you'll want to create different content for the various personas you have identified.

2. Make sure your content is useful and interesting

Useful and interesting content doesn't just happen. It often takes a lot of time, energy, and planning to create truly valuable content. Depending on the type of content you're writing and your audience, it's beneficial to use examples and stories, and back up any claims you make with research or stats to build credibility.

It's always a good idea to keep the "WIIFM" acronym in mind, which stands for "What's in it for me?" Make certain the content you've written addresses the needs of your audience/ prospects and that it's not a "sales pitch." Again, this depends on your readers but it's usually preferable to keep the language you use simple and straightforward so it's easy to read and understand by as many people as possible.

Another important consideration is to watch your tone. Think about what kind of tone you want to get across; do you want your content to sound serious and businesslike or friendly and upbeat? Remember, you should focus on keeping the content as interesting as possible.

Lastly, a good headline is important. Your goal should be to draw people in. Try and use words that evoke a response such as amazing, practical, proven, easy, and successful. "How to" headlines and "Top 5" or "Top 10" lists are popular and can be very effective.

3. Make sure your content is visually appealing

This is essential with online writing. To maximize the likelihood people will read your content, you want to have multiple short paragraphs rather than a few long ones. Also, be sure to include lots of images and headlines, depending on the length of the content. Remember to use numbered or bulleted lists, when necessary. At the end of the day, your content's layout should draw people in and be clean and easy on the eye.

4. Include a call-to-action (CTA)

Calls-to-action are important in helping you achieve the goal(s) you set out for when writing the content. If you're hoping for new leads, include a CTA at the end of your blog post, for instance, offering a free consultation or more information. Your reader is most likely to fill out your form requesting more information or subscribe to your blog right after your compelling content. Take advantage of this great opportunity by including a CTA at the end of your blog posts, articles, and white papers.

5. Make sure your content is sharable and search-friendly

Social media can be a tremendously powerful tool to help your content go viral and get a lot of impressions and reads. So ensure you give people the ability to share your content on the major social media sites. I believe that the best places for social media buttons are at the end of the content (once people have read/ viewed it) but the more places you can add the share buttons, the better.

Furthermore, you want to make sure your content is search-friendly. With Google's Hummingbird algorithm and its focus on "conversational search" you need to validate that you're providing valuable, quality content that's mobile-friendly and sharable. As well, have a good understanding of your long-tail keywords and how they can be integrated into your overall content marketing strategy.

6. Analyze your effectiveness

Use software such as Google Analytics to track your most and least successful content as far as metrics like page views, average time on page, and bounce rate go. With this data, you can optimize future content and be more informed when making content strategy decisions. You can also use Google Analytics and Google URL Builder to track conversions or goal completions (such as completing a contact form or free trial form), which can come in very handy. As well, look at how many comments or social media shares a particular piece of content got as this can be a good indicator of how successful or useful it was to the reader.

There are many elements that go into effective online content. To maximize your content marketing success and provide your readers with great content they'll love and that'll perform well for you from a sales and marketing perspective, make sure you've taken into consideration the points discussed in this article. Good luck!