How to Create Content for Any Industry (Featuring Vince Nero)
Join us and special guest Vince Nero of Siege Media as we explore six content creation tactics to try the next time you feel trapped by the constraints of your industry. In this blog, we want to show you that there are plenty of opportunities to create engaging content that converts in every field.
Vince is an experienced content marketer who spoke at the SearchLove conference in San Diego about ways to create successful content for clients in “boring” industries. We know you will find his insights valuable.
These are our 6 tips:
1) Provide Answers to your Customers’ Most Common Questions
When you write for an industry where it’s not easy to create “fun” content, focus on solving their problems rather than entertaining them. People have questions in every subject area, and they are going to turn to Google for answers.
Molding your content to perfectly fit your targets’ search intent is especially important. You can use infographics and other visuals to make even the most dry, complicated subjects more interesting.
Vince suggests showing your customers a problem they don’t even know they have, and then providing them with solutions.
There are plenty of areas to find these types of problems. As good marketers, you should be intimately aware of the problems and questions your users face. Listening to forums specific to your industry is probably the easiest way to find some questions, but you can also use sites like Reddit or Quora.
Buzzsumo has a feature called the Question Analyzer, which is a really great, simple way to find these types of problems/questions that users have. Ahrefs, however, has an even better version of this in their Keyword Explorer. They have a “Questions” section that ties not only the search volume but also the organic click through rate of those searches.
As Google continues to take away real estate by answering questions right in the SERP with features like their Quick Answer Box (or Position Zero), it’s important to understand that search volume isn’t the only metric to look at when tackling customers’ questions.
With its click through rate metric, Ahrefs identifies questions that are easily answered by users clicking the Google Quick Answer Box (and conversely, highlights those higher value questions where users are clicking on search results.)
Always answer questions as thoroughly as possible so that you are providing real value to the user. Don’t just default to making every post a long form blog post. It comes down to answering the query in the best way possible, which sometimes means simplifying the topic or changing the medium. I’ve found that visuals are a great way to convey information, especially complex topics. I recommend creating visuals for anything and everything.
Key Tip: There are plenty of free tools and templates to create whitepapers, ebooks, and infographics with information your potential customers want.
However, investing in a professional service to create this material in the best possible format is worth your investment. Research what type of lead magnets your competitors are using and hire someone to help you create something even better (more in-depth, more organized, etc.)
As we mentioned, creating great pieces of content for lead magnets is crucial. However, you also need to master creating content assets that generate backlinks. There are plenty of different approaches to link building, but creating high quality assets is a surefire tactic.
Vince shared his thoughts about creating linkable assets in a great post on Siege’s blog last year. We asked him how he would tailor his advice for businesses in industries where identifying linkable markets (and brainstorming original ideas for these assets) might be more challenging.
The easiest way to do this is by looking at what your competitors are doing. If they are getting links, then they must be doing something right. This doesn’t mean copy them word for word. However, it should give you insight into the type of content that might be effective at getting links in your industry.
When it comes to writing blog content, many businesses (especially in boring industries) do not consider what their customers actually want to read. They push topics that they think are interesting but their customers would rarely enjoy. This ties back to my previous tip to look at customers’ pain points and really understanding them.
Understand how your customers search and how they consume content. If they are only consuming and sharing video content and you are forcing written blog content on them, then there is a clear disconnect.
However, keep in mind that not all markets are created equal. If you are in a tough industry, your competitors are most likely having trouble building links as well. If they aren’t, then you should lean on their tactics to guide your strategy.
You don’t need every piece to go viral, you just need pieces that target specific audiences. Find those smaller targets and make something meaningful for them. A few high quality links might be worth twice as many in an industry where it’s really easy to get links.
3) Reformat Useful Data into Something That is Easy to Share
It makes sense that people gravitate towards information packaged in a way that’s easy to understand at a glance and share with others. There are plenty of reputable, free sources of information online, but the data is not usually in the most user friendly format.
This gives your company the chance to reorganize and display helpful data into visual content that your customers will appreciate. Reformatting data could be as simple as translating a table of statistics into a visually appealing bar graph or pie chart. People will be more likely to reference this kind of content, include it in their own blog posts, and link back to your website.
Vince is also a proponent of leveraging free data and turning it into content that people can use. He listed 40 free data sources here that could apply to a range of industries. But what if you are struggling to find high quality, authoritative free data sources in your industry (or prefer to collect your own data)? We asked Vince what he would recommend in this case.
I like Google Surveys because it is a cheaper alternative than something like Survey Monkey. It does have its drawbacks though. Audience targeting gets really expensive, as does asking screening questions. So, you have to be really strategic in the way that you ask questions.
The main thing to remember when using data in a piece is to tell a cohesive story. Just because you have data doesn’t mean you need to report on everything in one giant, crowded image. I saw this infographic on Google’s website and I was absolutely appalled by the quality of this content.
On the other hand, a great example of displaying data is found in this piece from Column Five. They took data from Pew Research and repurposed it into a simple infographic version which tells a quick, digestible story.
4) Curate News Content From Experts in Your Industry (Or Related Industries)
To produce content that ranks in search results, writing original content might not always be necessary. You can become a trusted source of industry knowledge through content curation.
Invest the time to hunt down and collect the most valuable articles in a particular subject area or industry. Researching the latest trends, following industry thought leaders, and learning about new innovations in your field are great ways to help you curate content.
Plus, you can send it to your email list as a round-up newsletter. When industry news curation is done correctly, you provide potential customers with a resource they look forward to and need. Content that people love, Google loves.
Compiling all of this information in a clear way and publishing it on your blog on a regular basis is a commitment. Content curation exists in every industry. There will always be people searching for the highlight reel of reliable information in any given field.
We asked Vince to share his two cents on helping curated content rank in Google (to help ensure the effort of content curation worthwhile).
When you are talking about curating content to allow terms to rank in Google search results, content curation strategy can be extremely effective for certain keywords. However, for some keywords, content curation is overdone. Proceed with caution and always make sure you are providing extra value somehow.
The other thing if you want to get curated content to rank is to realize that only some keywords are asking for curated content.
For example, “about us page examples” is clearly asking for external content. In this case, I curated the best about us pages from around the web, analyzed what worked, and then created a content delivery system with built in filters to make it super useful for the user.
We also made a shareable infographic that we could use to build links and make it more valuable. I don’t think it would have had as much value if I just put together a blog post called “Top 10 About Us Pages”.
One type of content that I don’t think really works as well anymore is the tactic of getting quotes from 100 different “experts” and putting it into one piece of content.
Rand Fishkin actually called out this practice in a video with Ross on our site. Used sparingly (in different contexts) this can work, but the problem arises when marketers get lazy and try to apply tactics that don’t fit their industry.
5) Expand Your Content’s Backlink Potential Beyond Your Typical Market
If you think your industry is so lackluster that it would be a waste to curate content that wouldn’t generate much interest anyway… you still have options.
Take a step slightly outside of your industry and try creating content that isn’t specifically related to your “boring” niche. This can be a super effective tactic, but you have to be smart about it.
Vince cautions that you don’t want to get too many links from areas in tangential markets that your customers don’t care about (that would defeat the purpose of creating the content in the first place). There are strategic ways to go about expanding your piece of content’s link potential.
I would say you can start as close to your industry as possible. This will help you understand what works and what kind of opportunity exists in your own industry. Once you’ve exhausted the obvious, you can then be strategic about the newer topics into which you are expanding.
What you don’t want to do is start creating pieces that could have been created by any blog out there. I would always aim to have a unique tie to your product or service. If you can’t justify that tie back to your service, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
Let’s look at an example of a business that received backlash on Twitter for a blog post that had no clear connection to the company.
The business is a logo company that did a study to identify the “filthiest” cities in America. On the surface, I don’t see that tie back to their company/brand. Nothing about this piece conveys to me that it should have been created by them. However, if this had been a company that sold soap or hygiene products, then maybe the connection to their brand would have been more obvious.
So, take small steps outside of your industry to start. Once you hit that area where your content could live on a blog in a completely different industry, you’ve gone too far.
Let’s walk through another example. Let’s say your company sells all-natural cleaning products. Maybe your main clients are currently other businesses (office spaces, yoga studios, etc.), but you want to start focusing on direct-to-consumer sales, too. You could write a piece of content that targets bloggers in the health and wellness space (health/wellness bloggers would be your first “linkable” market).
Then, let’s say you want to make this content appeal or another linkable market as well. You could also write the content to be geared towards college students or young professionals with a strong digital presence. However, you wouldn’t want to make the title of the blog post as specific as “Natural Cleaning Products for Your Dorm”.
If you make the headline too focused on college students, “mom bloggers” might overlook your article. The goal is to write content with a great chance of earning backlinks from multiple markets (without being so generalized that it doesn’t really catch anyone’s attention).
6) Write a More In-Depth and More Authentic Version of a Competitor’s Content
If you have been blogging for a while, chances are you already know about Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique. If you are not familiar with this idea, the term refers to creating new and significantly better content than your competitors so that your content can outshine and outrank theirs.
This approach to content creation is especially relevant if your business is in a “boring” industry. You might even have an advantage in creating something more in-depth and creative than what your competitors are publishing if they haven’t invested many resources into it. On the other hand, a brand in a “fun” industry knows the importance of producing top-notch content because of the intense competition for attention.
Vince pointed out in a recent post on the Siege blog that according to Social Media Week, 91% of consumers are prepared to reward brands for their authenticity in content marketing.
The “skyscraper” technique is something that gets pretty misconstrued these days. At its core, it is about making something better than what is currently out there. I mentioned this before, but most people default to simply writing something longer than what their competition wrote. This is problematic because even though a piece might have a greater word count, that doesn’t mean it is “better”. There are several ways to answer a query or tell a story in a unique way to stand out.
For instance, we have a post on our site called “How to Find Someone’s Email Address”. It had dropped in the rankings after a while, and we knew we needed something to make it stand out. Due to the skyscraper technique’s influence in the content marketing space, I think most people’s instinct would be to make an “ultimate guide to finding someone’s email” where you list 100 tactics for finding someone’s email online.
At the end of the day, does that answer really solve the query? Does that really help the user get this answer any easier than what is currently ranking? Not really.
Instead, our content team decided to update our post to make sure there were no outdated tactics. Then, to make our piece stand out, we added a video of me explaining the tactics. At the time no one else had a video for this tactic that ranked on page one of Google search results, so it helped us stand out from the competition. And at the same time, it was helpful for the user because it gave them another way to find the answer they needed.
Wrapping It Up…
Our team here at Chainlink believes in the importance of using proven tactics to take your content marketing efforts to the next level. Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter below for more digital marketing tips that you don’t want to miss.
About Vince Nero
Vince Nero is the Director of Content Marketing at Siege Media, an Inc. 5000 content marketing agency with a focus on SEO. Vince is fascinated by the way people behave online and the types of content they consume. Visit the Siege Media blog to see all of his posts and videos.