There are around 170 million active* websites in the world today (*out of a grand total of around 1.7 billion hostnames) with an estimated 5.6 billion web pages indexed in search engines. WordPress alone sees around 70 million new posts a month.
So if you are writing a blog post and you want that blog post to be seen, how can you possibly reach your audience when there is just so much content out there?
Search engines are the gatekeepers
The entire web relies on search engines, such as Google, to index the pages of the world wide web.
Without search engines, the internet would be almost completely useless – it would be impossible to find anything. So your chances of being found by your audience rely almost completely in the hands of those search engines.
Today’s search engines are incredibly sophisticated and have evolved to be as helpful as they can be to the searcher.
This means that it has become almost impossible to fool them, game them or somehow fix things in your favour. There used to be techniques you could use to get the search engines to feature your content more prominently than it would otherwise appear, but those techniques are few and far between now. Most are now unreliable and even potentially damaging to your chances of being seen.
There is only one sure-fire, 100% proven, absolutely failsafe way to ensure your content gets seen by your audience when searching – and that’s to offer the most helpful and relevant content to them.
Going back a few years, it may well have been enough to write a lightweight piece on your subject with a catchy headline and a few facts, but today there is such a wealth of content available to your audience that you will almost certainly have to do better than that.
Today you have to create deep content. Content that covers your chosen topic in depth. That provides real insight, real help, real guidance and real value to your audience
But what is deep content? And how do you create it?
Deep content is:
- Writing in detail
- Being specific
- Writing at length
- Explaining without patronising
- Being helpful
- Being relevant
- Providing solid information
- Offering real value to your audience
Now, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can create deep content.
Whilst the length of an article is no real guide to its quality or usefulness, it’s a nice basic metric that you can measure easily and see straight away. Let’s face it, you are unlikely to offer real help and insight in an article of just a few hundred words. These days the recommendation for the best length of a blog post is… the longer the better. Obviously, you need to ensure that you are not just writing words for the sake of it, and make sure that every sentence and paragraph of your content serves a purpose and leads on to the next.
Explain and don’t miss out detail
If you know your audience, then you may be able to use jargon or gloss over the details of an industry procedure or practice, but never assume this will be okay. It is better to go into detail – particularly in the context of the topic you are writing about – so they understand where you are coming from. Many people – even those in management positions – may not admit they don’t know all the ins and outs of a topic or accepted practice, and they may not know or understand the theory behind it. So going into detail and explaining things – in a non-patronising way – can actually be very helpful.
It may be your piece is actually a how-to, or a guide, in which case you should explain everything in the simplest possible way – give examples and illustrations so your audience can get a sense of how it applies to them in the real world.
Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what areas they might be confused about, or what things they may not understand or may need help with and create good, in-depth content that addresses that.
Offering tips and helpful information that makes your prospects’ or customers’ lives easier, is another way to create useful content. These can be presented in the form of a list – like a top ten tips for example – as this is a very popular and easily digestible format that readers really like.
Conducting original, relevant research and reporting on the results is a powerful way to create content that is both deep and unique – a combination that will always ensure good engagement and results.
You may be able to do this based on data that you have collected through your day to day business, or you may need to commission an outside body to undertake it on your behalf. Along with clearly presenting the results, you should draw definite conclusions and lay out what the implications are for your target audience.
If you have the skills or the resources, then turning those results into an infographic is worthwhile as this content format is still incredibly popular.
By their very nature, case studies tend to be deep content. They are usually quite detailed, specific and full of facts and information that is very relevant to your target audience. They are best told in the subject’s own words, with as many stories, anecdotes, examples and illustrations as possible.
Don’t leave out any difficulties encountered along the way – detailing how difficulties were overcome is a great message and lends the study a greater ring of truth than if these were just glossed over. And it’s usually this, the most practical part of the story that is the most useful to your audience. A good case study tells an interesting story and is packed with relevant information, tips and advice, with a good, positive summary at the end.
Strategy and insight
Helping managers make good decisions by offering insights and advice on strategy is immensely valuable to your audience. Writing in-depth articles on strategy from a position of authority will help you by both establishing authority and attracting prospects and customers.
Offering industry insights that help managers to plan and look to the future is another valued form of content.
One form of this is content that reviews the past year or looks forward to the next – typically published between Christmas and the New Year – but there may be other occasions where it is appropriate, like before or after a major industry exhibition or conference.
The challenge of deep content
It can certainly be a challenge to create deep content as the resource and time costs are high. You will need to do more thorough research, locate experts to help you create the content, or maybe, give them the skills through training or coaching to create it themselves. You might need to spend time interviewing the people within your business who have the specialist knowledge or know the product or service inside out. You might have to talk to customers about their use of your product or service and get them to divulge any useful tips or knowledge they might have.
Industry experts may be another good source of the sort of useful, detailed information that you can turn into deep content.
You may have to enlist the help of outside suppliers for specialist knowledge, research, writing or graphics skills.
The value of deep content
Creating deep content will increase your search engine standing and attract prospects and customers by providing real value to them. It may not be easy, it will take time and resources, but in a competitive world that is full of a wide variety of content – good and bad – it is the only way to stand out from the crowd and raise yourself above your competitors.