Do you want your content to rank on Google?
And do you want people to share it on social media? To share it with their friends? Even to link to it on their own website?
Then it needs to be really good.
Content needs to add real value to people’s lives. I read articles all the time and think: “oh, that was interesting”, and then forget about it completely.
So, how you create really valuable content?
Research. Lots and lots of research. You need to know what you’re talking about, and how to convey it in a way that will genuinely influence people’s lives.
Here’s why research is so important.
You Can’t Be Wrong – Ever
If your stating something as fact in your content – you can’t be wrong, for two reasons.
One, because if your answer to a question is completely different to everybody else’s, Google will assume you’re wrong and you will be outranked by competitors.
Two, because if you’re wrong – and your found to be wrong – it can be damaging to your brand’s reputation.
People will lose trust in your content if your wrong even once.
Doing it over and over again would be very negative. So take the time to ensure your information is right. Double and even triple source it if you can.
Now, having the occasional error in your content is not the end of the world. But you need to fix it as soon as possible. And it’s worth considering including a disclaimer, simply stating you were wrong and the article has been fixed.
Have Content Nobody Else Has
The more research you do, the more likely you are to come across information to include in your content that few others have.
Google (and people, for that matter) loves original content.
If you’ve found the information elsewhere on the internet it won’t be completely unique. But if you have more detail than your competitors, it will give you an advantage over them.
Don’t just stick to your usual sources of information. Go deep. Spend time looking at alternative website that might offer something slightly different.
Obviously, you need to check these sources are factually correct.
But if they are, you’ll be adding value to your content that many other simply don’t have. All because you went the extra mile in trying to find more things that might be useful to your readers.
Show Readers You’re an Authority
Telling readers something they already know isn’t valuable to them.
If you’re providing very basic content, then you won’t assert yourself as an expert or authority in your industry.
Think about your target audience. If they are a complete novice on your given subject, then the most basic information will be helpful to them.
But if they’re a little more sophisticated, you need to find a way of providing them with value – telling them something they don’t know.
And that means in-depth research to find out what that something is.
If you want to be known as the number one authority in your sphere, you have to consistently produce high-quality content that demonstrates your unmatched knowledge.
Quick Tip – Keyword Research Shows What to Research
For digital marketers, keyword research is essential. Analysing what people are searching for on Google will show you what you need to include in your content.
It won’t provide actual answers – but it will tell you what you need to be researching.
How to Research – Where Can You Source Information?
So far, we’ve talked about research as simply delving into the online world – reading up on the subject you’re writing on from blogs and other websites.
But there are other sources of information.
For example, offline sources. Books and newspaper (yes, they’re still a thing!). Research papers that are not easily found online.
Even speaking directly to experts yourself, over the phone or in person. Quoting them as part of a conversation only have had is a great form of unique content that builds authority.
If you’re writing about a product or a service, the best thing you can do is buy or use it yourself.
Personal, hands on experience will tell you everything you need to know.
Can’t I Just Write from My Own Knowledge?
If you’re really knowledgeable about the subject you’re writing about, you can produce decent content off the top of your head.
But this isn’t about how to create decent content. It’s about creating valuable content.
Even experts should take the time to check their facts, and look for that extra bit of value they can provide.
It’s much easier to just sit down and write.
But it’s much better to invest time into thorough research that puts your content above everyone else’s.
Don’t get cocky. Your knowledge and experience in an area might not be enough to have you ranking number one on Google.
It’s always worth going the extra mile, and claiming that top position.
How Much Time Is Needed for Research?
There’s no “real” answer for this. The best I can do is, “however long it takes”.
You can’t rush these things. Getting it right is more important than getting it done quickly.
Generally speaking, the longer you anticipate the piece being, the more time you should spend on research.
At the same time, you should be conscious of not overdoing it to the point where your content no longer becomes worth the time invested.
If the goal of a piece of content is to generate a few conversions – spending 30 hours on research
Use your best judgement. Conduct research until you firmly believe you have enough quality, original content to provide genuine value to your readers.
And both Google and your audience will reward you.