Creating new content for your site actually requires significantly more thought than one would realize. There are a couple of things that you need to be mindful of when you are writing, first and foremost is that you obviously want to write and create something that’s meaningful for the reader. Second, you have to make sure that someone actually wants to read what you’re putting together. [The last sentence above makes the assertion that you’re not just writing for yourself.]
Writing content with search in the back of your mind really needs to start out with demand. The best way for anyone to start this process is to begin with a number of questions that you need to answer:
What do I want to tell the reader?
What is it that the reader is looking for?
How do they currently look for this content?
The last point above is really the most important question that you need to think about. The first two questions are typically the first ones that a writer will address without any thought given to the last point. How do potential readers currently look for what you want to say. While it seems to be catering a little too much to the commercial aspects of writing or journalism – it absolutely is and you’re really just going to need to get over that. I’ve had this very conversation multiple times with people that I’ve consulted with as well as people that I’ve worked with.
A few years ago I was working for a company where I would have periodic meetings/discussions with some of the editors that were either managing, writing or both for one of our sites. In one particular meeting, one of the editors asked why nobody really read a piece of content “How Can I Get Charlie Sheen To Be My Valentine”. This particular editor, was a little surprised when the first thing that I asked was, why on earth would anyone want to look for that let alone read that. It turns out that the article was only written and published because that particular day the writer had a mental block and couldn’t come up with any ideas, so they just went with it. You see, there was a quota that the writer needed to hit for the amount of content they wrote.
This example illustrates violations of all 3 of the questions that one needs to ask. The bottom line is that you don’t create new content just for the sake of creating content. There’s no magical ‘if you write it they will come’ online. Before even starting to put your fingers on the keyboard you really need to do a little thinking and maybe a little research before starting.
First, you should start with an idea. Unless you are starting a new section on your site, you should start with an idea that is similar, but not identical to what you already have on your site. If you have a site about technology products and you want to inform users about some VR breakthrough start, you have your starting point. You’ve answered question 1 from above. Moving to question 2, what do they want to read — well if you already have a site dedicated to technology products, you should understand what your readers are currently reading about and know if there’s a demand.
The last point is where your thought and research needs to happen. This understanding is important because how you present/write your content has a lot to do with how people are already looking for this information. There’s a ton of keyword research planning tools available out there, I personally use Google and some things that I’ve developed based on Hitwise data that I use, but if you’re curious, here’s a bunch of the “best” ones over on Google. [I will get into how I do my research and content strategerizing in another piece.]
What you are specifically looking for with your research is to understand how people are already looking for what you want to inform them about. This is important because these terms have to show up in your content. One of the simple SEO rules-of-thumb is to have some of these terms appear in your Title Tag, in your Meta Description, in your H1 Tag and in your first paragraph of your content. There is definitely art and magic as to how you actually do this without sounding like you’re just repeating things 6 times, but these are the places that Google will look at when determining what your content is about. The advice that i typically give is to use the most important key words in one or two or three of these places and have some slight variations throughout your article. The most important thing is to NOT just add these things and have them not fit and flow with your content, you’re only going to sound spammy or scammy.
Once you have an understanding of what people are looking for, think about working your article around the tags and locations that I mention above and write the rest of your article. The art comes in when you can put something together that works well for you and what you intend, but also (and most importantly) what works for the reader.