How to Create Original Content and Why It’s More Important Than Ever
With so much information available online, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if what you see isn’t useful or relevant to your needs. That’s where content marketing comes into play.
Content marketing is the process of creating and publishing original content that helps people in your target audience solve problems or learn more about the topics that interest them. Done right, content marketing can help you stand out from the crowd and attract more customers to your business.
But what is original content? And how do you create content that appeals to members of your target audience? We put together this guide to help you understand the importance of content marketing and learn how to develop content that gets results.
What Is Original Content?
Original content is content that’s never been published before. “Never published” doesn’t mean you took a piece of existing content, rewrote it in your own words and published it on your website. It means the content contains new ideas.
Audience members are smarter than ever. They know when a company uses the same content over and over again or copies content from other businesses in the same industry. It’s especially obvious when publishers use spinning software or hire inexperienced freelancers to rewrite existing content. In many cases, the spun content is riddled with errors and doesn’t make any sense to a human reader.
If you want to use original content to attract new audience members and retain loyal customers, you need to be strategic. Think about how you can make your content different from what everyone else is publishing. If you achieve the right balance of originality, relevance and usefulness, you’ll be able to grow your brand and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Types of Original Content
WordPress.org defines a blog as a website that maintains an “ongoing chronicle of information.” Blog posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, ensuring visitors see the newest posts first. When used for marketing purposes, a blog post should relate to your business in some way, whether you publish product reviews, interviews with industry experts or company updates.
According to Michael Stelzner, the author of Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them, a white paper is a persuasive essay that promotes a product, service or viewpoint. A white paper should provide useful information to help the reader make a decision, solve a problem or understand more about a complex issue. This type of original content is often used in business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
Case studies tell a story about a company and its products or services. In marketing, case studies are used to highlight how a company helped one of its customers achieve a goal or solve a problem. Like white papers, case studies are often used for promoting B2B products and services.
Companies use email marketing to connect with audience members and promote their products, services and events. Each email you send is a piece of original content that can be used to help your business increase customer engagement or reach your sales goals.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content as “relevant and relatable” information shared with prospects, customers and other stakeholders. Using this definition, videos definitely qualify as a form of original content. Video interviews, tutorials, Q&A sessions and product reviews can all be used to promote your business online.
A podcast is a series of audio episodes focusing on a specific theme or topic. As long as the audio is relevant and relatable, it counts as a form of content for marketing purposes. Podcasts can help you grow your business by making it easier to connect with audience members.
Website copy is text that tells site visitors what they need to know about a company or brand. Every page of your website, from the Home page to the About Us page, has some type of website copy on it. For best results, your website copy should contain multiple calls to action.
An infographic is a visual representation of data. In other words, an infographic combines text and images to provide an easy-to-understand overview of a complex topic. Infographics are especially helpful if you’re writing about a technical topic and want to highlight relevant statistics for your audience members.
Social Media Posts
Social media posts are short pieces of content shared on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These posts typically contain text, photos and videos, all of which can be used to engage your audience and help you achieve your marketing goals.
Just because your content has to be original doesn’t mean you have to create something new from scratch every day. Content repurposing refers to taking a piece of existing content and turning it into a different type of content. Repurposing saves you time while helping you reap the many benefits of content marketing.
You can repurpose your content in a few different ways.
- Podcast episodes: Some people love listening to podcasts, but others prefer to read blog posts and reports. If you have a podcast, you can repurpose the content by publishing transcripts or turning the information from each episode into a series of articles or blog posts. You can also record your podcast sessions on video and then publish those videos on YouTube, giving you access to a whole new audience.
- Blog posts: Just as some people prefer to read, others prefer to listen to podcasts or watch videos. You can repurpose your blog content by turning each post into a short podcast episode or creating a video to add to your website or YouTube channel.
- Videos: If you’re involved in business-to-business marketing, you can repurpose your videos by turning them into presentation slides with audio narration.
- Articles: Repurpose your articles by pulling out interesting facts or statistics and incorporating them into an infographic that can be shared on social media. Another option is to take a series of articles and compile them into an e-book or case study that can be shared with audience members.
The SEO Benefits of Content Marketing
Search engine optimization is essential for growing your business. If you’re not familiar with the term, search engine optimization—often shortened to “SEO”—is the process of making your site more visible to potential customers. Done right, SEO can help you improve your site’s search engine rankings, making it easier for people to find your business online.
Search engine algorithms consider hundreds of factors when determining how to rank web pages. Many of these factors relate to the quality of the content you publish.
- Readability: Your content should be easy for the majority of readers to understand, so Google uses readability as one of the factors it considers when determining how a web page ranks for a specific keyword. You don’t need to write content on par with “See Spot run,” but you should strive to make your writing as accessible as possible for people with different educational backgrounds and life experiences.
- Length: Content length is another quality signal that can affect your SEO. Top-ranked pages usually have more than 1,000 words of text. If you decide to write long blog posts or articles, make sure you use short paragraphs, bulleted lists, bold text and other formatting elements to make the content easy to read.
- Keywords: Keywords are words and phrases that help readers and search engines understand what your content is about. Incorporating keywords into your online content can help you improve your search engine rankings, but don’t get carried away and start inserting keywords into every sentence.
When people visit your website, they want to know they’re reading accurate content written by a real person with some experience on the topic. Original content not only helps you establish your website as an authority in your industry, but it also has a significant impact on your overall rankings in search engines. There are a few ways to increase your site authority with content marketing:
- Stay focused. Remember that your content needs to be relevant to your target audience. If you visited a recipe website that also had blog posts about shoes, books and quilting, you’d probably wonder if the site’s owner really had any experience with cooking or recipe development. Your content should focus on a single topic or theme to show your expertise.
- Choose your platforms wisely. Your website isn’t the only place to publish content. If you decide to use other platforms, make sure you choose sites where your audience members are most likely to hang out. It does you no good to publish high-quality content on LinkedIn if most of your audience members spend their time on Instagram and Facebook, for example.
- Put your audience first. Content is for your audience, not for you. Focus on providing value with every piece of content you publish. You can add value by helping people solve their problems, teaching audience members a new skill or requesting feedback from customers.
- Keep it consistent. If your opinion changes every time the wind blows, your audience members will have a tough time believing you’re an authority in your industry. When you create new content, try to be as consistent as possible—don’t write one thing on Monday and something completely different on Thursday.
- Make connections with community members. Ultimately, you want to grow a community of people who love your brand. The best way to do this is to build genuine relationships with audience members. You can do this by answering questions, soliciting feedback and engaging in other forms of interaction.
Backlinks are essential for establishing your site’s authority and showing the search engines your content is useful and relevant. In this context, links are like votes. With millions of pages online, the fact that someone would take the time to link to one of your pages shows Google and Bing that you’re publishing valuable information. This is like a “vote” for your page over the thousands of other pages on the same topic.
Backlinking also helps you establish your authority in a specific niche. The more links that point at your web pages, the more opportunities you have to attract new visitors and encourage them to join your community.
According to Google employees, social media usage isn’t one of the factors that go into determining how well a page ranks. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore social media completely. Using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms can help you position your company as an authority in your industry. It may also help you build backlinks and drive more traffic to your site as social media users share your content.
When you publish original content that adds value, people are more likely to visit your website, share the content with their contacts and interact with your brand on social media. This creates a domino effect. The more engaged people are, the more they’ll share your content, drawing in new audience members. Here are some tips for creating shareable content:
- Tell a story. Instead of pushing people to buy your products or focusing on your company’s operations, your content should tell a story. Start out with an introduction that hooks the reader and makes them want to keep reading. Then make the story as relevant as possible to your audience members.
- Feature one of your customers. People are more likely to share content if it mentions them by name. To take advantage of this instinct, publish case studies or other materials to highlight what your customers are doing.
- Incorporate something controversial. Every industry has at least one heated debate raging at any given time. The GIF format was developed in 1987, and people are still arguing over how it’s pronounced. Pick a side and write a blog post or email defending your position—people who agree with you are likely to share the content.
- Solve a problem. The more useful your content is, the more people are likely to share it. One of the best ways to make your content useful is to tell readers how to solve a problem. For best results, the problem should be something that’s really annoying or would cost a lot of money to fix if they had to hire a professional. If your solution works, the people who benefited from it are likely to share the content with their friends and family members.
Building Thought Leadership
Thought leadership shows people you have a certain level of expertise in a particular industry or topic. Original content can help you build thought leadership by giving you ongoing opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. This approach has several benefits:
- Increases credibility
- Establishes you as a reliable source of information on a topic
- Inspires people in your audience
- Encourages people to be innovative
- Creates opportunities to specialize in a narrow niche
Creating Useful Content
What’s useful to you may not be useful to your audience members. Before you start creating new content, it’s important to connect with people in your audience and find out what they want you to cover. If your business is new and you don’t have an established community, there are a few simple ways to find out what kind of content people want.
When people search for information online, they use specific words and phrases (keywords) related to their topic of interest. Keyword research tools help you find out exactly what keywords people are using, making it easier to choose a topic for your next blog post or video.
To use one of these tools, you typically enter a broad keyword that relates to your business. For example, someone who runs a shoe company might enter “shoes” as the broad keyword. After you enter a keyword, the software gives you a list of related keywords entered by search engine users. In the shoe example, the software might tell you that people have been searching for “best shoes to wear in cold weather” or “best shoes for hiking on a flat trail.”
Once you know what search terms people are using, you’ll have a better understanding of what kind of information your audience needs.
Many forums allow users to create anonymous accounts, giving them the freedom they need to discuss sensitive topics and share personal information. These forums are a great source of information for anyone tasked with creating original content. Next time you need ideas, visit Reddit or another forum, enter your topic into the search bar and read through relevant posts to find out what kind of content you can create to provide value.
People love to share their opinions on social networks, even if those opinions sometimes ruffle feathers. If you’re in a content rut, take a look at your Twitter feed or scroll through Facebook to see what people are talking about.
If you work for a B2B business, industry surveys are a great source of information. Many surveys ask respondents to indicate what problems they’re having or what tools they need to make their jobs easier. You can use the responses to outline white papers, articles, e-books and other types of content.
Like forums, Q&A websites can give you valuable insight into what kind of information people need to improve their lives. Users often share a little bit about their background and then ask specific questions about their circumstances. You can use these Q&A posts to create content outlines or come up with ideas for an FAQ page related to your topic.
Top Tips for Creating Original Content
Before you start writing, podcasting or shooting videos, take time to do some research. Your content won’t help you much if it’s outdated or irrelevant to the people in your target audience. First, make sure you understand your audience members. You need to know exactly who they are. Are they men or women? Teenagers or adults nearing retirement age? Wealthy individuals or people who need financial guidance?
Next, research your competitors to find out what they’re doing. It’s extremely important not to copy content from a competitor’s website or follow the exact same marketing plan as your closest competitors. You’re just looking for ideas to help you develop your own content marketing plan. Read through the content and figure out what’s good about it and what could be improved. Think about how you can fill in gaps and add value for your readers.
If you have an established audience, send out a survey or publish a poll on your social media accounts. Ask people what they want to see from you in the coming months.
It’s easy to get bogged down with research and trying to figure out exactly how each platform works. Instead of trying to be everywhere at once, pick one platform and stick with it for a while. Experiment with your content to find out what gets the most comments, likes and shares. Do some split testing to see if one approach is more effective than another. Once you have one platform under control, you can move on to the next one and start experimenting there.
Collaborate With Others
Creating content can be a lonely endeavour, but it doesn’t have to be. Reach out to other people in your industry and suggest cohosting a webinar, sharing each other’s content or contributing to a long article. When you collaborate with others, you both benefit, making collaboration a great way to grow your audience.
It’s clear that original content is essential for success in today’s business landscape. If you don’t have experience creating and distributing content, the thought of using content marketing to grow your business can be a little daunting. At Crowd Content, we have teams of experienced freelance writers available to create articles, e-books, white papers and other content to help you attract new audience members and position yourself as an authority.