ICYMI: Content Marketing Is the Future
If you keep your ear to the ground, you can hear the rumblings: content marketing is the future of marketing. Well, you better perk up and hit the ground running because it looks like the future is here. Just recently, the utter significance of content marketing has been realized and has become undeniable in the plans of any savvy, forward-thinking business.
Content marketing is, in layman’s terms, the idea that a business, company, and/or brand can benefit from content that is at once engaging, exciting, informative, inspiring, professional, clever, and effective. Crazy, right? What a world!
And nowadays, industry professionals will tell you that just one form of content isn’t enough. You should be getting your hands into whatever you can, from video to blogging to landing pages to social media and so on. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should just be churning out content for the sake of churning out content. Content marketing isn’t about conning people or deceiving search engines. It’s about putting the best of yourself out there, crafting content in a way that is both exquisite and functional. Every piece of content you put out into the world should have a clearly-defined purpose. You have to prove to people (along with search engines like Google) that you are worth people’s time and, possibly, money.
When diving into the content creation process, here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Be original! Find a way to stand out from the pack.
- When writing with SEO and keywords in mind, remain subtle, conversational, and engaging. Don’t reduce yourself to a robot!
- Know your audience! Work with their thoughts, needs, and interests always lurking in the back of your mind.
- Maintain consistency! Like I said above, don’t churn out content for content’s sake. Take your time, be precise, and maintain a consistent level of quality.
- Be intelligent and professional but never pretentious and stuffy.
- Everything you produce should be informative in one way or another.
Link Bait: Content Marketing’s Dirty Word
In 2015, link bait has become something of a dirty word in the content marketing sphere. Chances are that you (like me) may be one of the many fans of The Onion’s off-shoot website called ClickHole, the whole objective of which is to parody link bait sites like Upworthy and BuzzFeed. While the joys to be found in ClickHole and its spoof of link bait culture are endless, just why exactly has link bait become such a controversial and maligned topic of conversation?
It would probably help to start by finding a way to define what link bait is. Link bait typically starts with headlines that are specifically designed to encourage people to link, share, or click on it. Examples: “10 Things You Didn’t Know About…”; “3 Things You Have to Do Before You Die”; “You Won’t Believe That This Is True”; on and on. Those stereotypical headlines work as link bait because they are provocative, loaded, and pose “deep” questions to readers. The actual content of link bait works similarly in that it is designed to draw people’s attention, encourage sharing, and hopefully improve a site’s position in search results.
More recently than before, link bait and its merits have become a subject of debate. When thinking about the controversy of link bait, here are some important questions to keep in mind:
- Is it an effective way of generating traffic?
- Is it the online equivalent of tabloid trash?
- Is it a cheap manipulative trick?
While the majority of link bait really is just a ploy to draw in quick, easy traffic, that doesn’t mean that all link bait has to be. Whether it ends up being a useless deceit or an actually informative, useful piece of content is all in the hands of the person behind the content creation. Shouldn’t you be able to craft content that can quickly and easily bring in traffic as well as offer up a wealth of information?
Tips on Creating Effective, Quality Link Bait
While the phrase “link bait” has developed some negative connotations, that shouldn’t scare you away from the enterprise entirely. It truly is an effective way of receiving views, clicks, and more. The important thing to keep in mind at all times is that, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the content. Here are some tips to help you develop compelling, quality link bait:
- Employ visualizations and infographics when possible. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words.
- Focus on a trending or highly sought-out topic. You should be creating what people are actually searching for.
- Use a headline that employs keywords but also remains entirely relevant to the content at hand. It should also function as a hook to draw people in. Remember that it’ll be the first thing a potential reader or viewer will see.
- Create a go-to resource that will allow people to find a ton of information on a single subject all in one handy place.
- Don’t be afraid to personalize it! When you can, talk about the things that you’re passionate about. That passion will show.
- Readers love a good list. Breaking content down into a list of some kind will only make it more digestible. Trust me when I say that it’s much more appealing than a giant block of information.
- I said it once, and I’ll say it again and again: focus on content depth! Everything else is for nothing if the actual content is lacking. Put your best self into it. Become a source of information that people can trust, understand, and respect.
So, is link bait really killing content marketing? That’s all up to us. If the focus of content marketing remains on content quality and depth, then perhaps one day down the line, link bait won’t be such a dirty word.