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To use your website and social media platforms effectively, you need to be visible – to your customers and to the search engines.

Why fresh content matters

Search resultsYou might have heard about Google Panda and Google Penguin – these were algorithm updates to Google, in 2011 and 2012 respectively, that meant websites could no longer get away with cheating their way to the top of the search engine rankings by using ‘black hat’ techniques such as keyword stuffing, duplicate content, cloaking and participating in link schemes.

Instead, Google quite rightly placed the emphasis back on the visitor’s experience, encouraging website owners and their writers to create informative, relevant and engaging content that would add real value and keep customers coming back for more.

As you’ve no doubt been told, content is king once again. And regularly updated, fresh content more so because it shows Google you are interested in creating a long-term relationship with your customers.

Using a blog or news page

Having a blog or news page is one of the easiest ways to provide your customers with fresh content, regardless of your business. By posting consistently, be it three or four times a week, or once or twice a month (create a schedule that works for you), it gives customers value, encourages them to return to your site regularly and lets you focus on the keywords your customers are using to search for your products or services.

Stuck for ideas? Don’t panic!

If you find yourself staring at your computer screen and wondering how on earth you’re going to come up with fresh content for a regular blog, don’t worry. Here are five fab tips that I use all the time:

Tip 1: Look online

If you’re lost for what to say, take ten minutes out of your day to read some other websites and blogs, particularly ones that are relevant to your industry. Has news broken recently that affects your business or your customers? Is there a celebrity story that you could comment on in a way that’s relevant to your company? What are other bloggers, journalists and influencers saying? You may read a story and realise you have a different perspective – this could be a fantastic starting point for a blog.

Tip 2: Read

On any given day, I’m usually mid way through a novel, a magazine, a business book and a marketing or social media guide. I find reading is a fantastic way to spark my imagination, immerse me in different writing styles and give me new ideas for content. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Tip 3: Free write

TypingI mentioned this last week in Lost for words?, my blog about tackling writer’s block. It’s a great technique for blog writers too. Simply write down anything and everything that pops into your mind, with no thought of grammar, punctuation, spelling or even quality at this stage.

Personally, I jot down notes about what I think my readers want or need to know – essentially the problems that keep them awake at night – and think about how my content could meet those needs. For me, that means writing about things like when and how to blog (and what to write about), tackling writer’s block, writing for your ideal customer, tone of voice, showing your personality in your copy, etc.

Free write, use a mind map, cut out pictures, scribble over a whiteboard – do whatever works for you but find a way of getting your ideas out of your head and into a form that you can see and play with.

Tip 4: Make an outline

Once I’ve come up with some broad ideas, I break each potential post down into a rough outline, highlighting the key points, secondary points and my conclusion. By creating a loose structure, it helps me see where I need to fill in the gaps and do a bit of research (especially if I’m writing a blog for a client). Sometimes it shows me that I haven’t got the angle quite right. That’s fine – it’s all a learning process.

When I write a blog for my clients, I send this outline to them in the form of a proposal document so that they can see the kind of topics that I think would fit well on their blog and how each article would be structured. It’s a great tool.

Tip 5: Look at old content

Don’t be afraid to reuse old content. Go back through your site and look for your popular blog posts, the ones that attracted lots of traffic, comments or social media shares. Instead of simply re-posting it (which you could if you’re really stuck for content), can you bring it up-to-date in some way? Is there something more you could add? Did your customers’ comments the last time you posted it raise some points you hadn’t included in the original article?

Bonus tip: If you’re still stuck for fresh content ideas for your blog, considering inviting someone from another company to write a guest blog for you.

A guest blog is typically written by someone who works in a related field or has a similar ideal customer to you. At the end of their guest post, they will usually include their business contact details and a link to their website (which is beneficial to them from an SEO point of view). In return, you could agree to write a guest blog for them in a couple of weeks to get in front of their customers too.

How do you generate fresh content? Do you have hints or tips for coming up with ideas that I haven’t mentioned here? If so, I’d love to hear from you. And if you’re still stuck with your blog, remember you’re always welcome to contact me to see how I can help.

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Emma Heasman

Emma Heasman has been an in-house and freelance copywriter for the past 13 years and launched The Freelance Copywriter in 2003. Ever passionate about copywriting, she now works with small businesses to help them write copy that speaks to their ideal customers. Connect with Emma on Google+

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