There are many strong motivations to create content for your SEO campaign. They give you more pages for Google to index, they allow you to optimize for long-tail keywords, and of course, they serve as anchor points for building and attracting inbound links. Those links, of course, are essential if you want to improve your domain authority and climb the rankings, so you’ll be especially motivated to create compelling content for your brand.
Here’s the thing—not all types of content have the same likelihood of attracting high-quality links.
Top Types of Content
These types of content are usually the best for attracting links because they’re dense, they’re informative, and they’re somewhat tricky to pull off—which means they’re rarer and more appealing to your audience:
- Massive lists. Massive lists are appealing for two reasons. First, they have a ton of content to wade through, which makes them seem well-researched and “deep” on the subject matter. Second, they’re organized into numerical points, so they’re easy to peruse. Listicles offer a similar effect, but massive lists (with 100 items or more) offer a much richer and more linkable experience. For example, 121 things to do in Rome isn’t just an exploration of the highlights—it goes into detail about what the city offers, making it a citable resource rather than just fodder to share with your social media followers.
- In-depth tutorials. In-depth tutorials are also strong contenders as a linkable asset. Tutorials teach people how to do something, which makes them practically valuable. If that task is specific enough, you’ll see high search volume with minimal competition, but best of all, anyone writing about similar or related topics will probably link to your resource—as long as it’s the best one available. For that reason, your tutorial needs to be in-depth, like this guide on how to sketch in three dimensions.
- Infographics. Infographics tend to gather many data points from many different sources, and collect them together in a single, visually immersive package. This makes it immediately appealing to share, but also makes it an all-in-one resource to reference for others who are working on similar or related material. This infographic covering multiple data points on the Bond film franchise is a perfect example of one blending together citable information in an aesthetically pleasing package.
- Short videos. You can also put together a short video, covering ample information on any topic. This medium is more open-ended, though you’ll still need to have something citable. You can transform a tutorial into a hands-on approach with your video, or bring in an influencer and interview them; as long as there’s some quotable material there, people will be willing to cite your work. Up until this point, longer and more detailed has been better to increase your chances of earning links, but here, shorter is better; people don’t have time to spend searching for small details they need in a 20-minute video.
- Documented original research. Any original research you provide on a topic that your audience wants to learn about is going to be instant and high-quality fodder for links. Original research hasn’t been done before, and therefore has no competition to worry about. You’ll provide new, unique data points that other people need, and nobody else can steal that traffic from you. Moz and BuzzSumo’s analysis on how content earns shares and links is a good example of this—and is pretty meta, given the nature of this article. Any type of research is valuable, so long as it’s new.
A Note on Quality
Just creating a piece of content in one of the archetypes above isn’t enough to guarantee you’ll earn some links. The piece also has to be of exceptional high quality; it should be appealing to your target demographics, easy to read and understand, well-researched, detailed, and engaging. The content world is flooded with both amateurs and professionals, desperate to get a piece of today’s ridiculously high user demand. You’ll need to produce grade-A material if you want to stand a chance in the field—no matter what type of content you end up producing.
Supporting Your Content
After producing your piece, you can’t just sit back and let the links come to you—you have to support your work if you want it to thrive. Make sure you syndicate it on social media, submit it to social bookmarking sites, and shop it around with influencers. Unless you have a strong initial audience, your piece’s quality won’t be enough to get you the links you need. But with the right support, and high enough quality, you can turn any of the content archetypes above into a link-generating landmark masterpiece in your SEO campaign.
Web design trends come and go, but the most successful software companies seem to prosper regardless of evolving stylistic trends. That’s because they understand what makes their customers tick and how they can best serve their needs.
3 Good Examples From Other Software Companies
Software websites are often unique in the sense that they have to convey a lot of information – clearly explaining what their product does and how it’s unique when compared to other options – but they still have to take into account the need for simplicity and minimalism.
Here are three good examples of what this looks like when executed to perfection.
The first thing you’ll notice when you land on this invoice making website is that it’s clean. Not only is there a lot of negative space, but the images are crisp, the typeface stands out, and everything seems to fuse together for a cohesive look. On the homepage, in particular, the web design strategy does a fine job of incorporating lots of information without being overwhelming.
The Evernote website is a prime example of how valuable it is to cut out the fluff and emphasize the key points of the software. The page is predominantly made up of white space, while the limited text and visuals effectively convey the key value points. The sign-up form on the homepage is particularly well placed and makes it easy for anyone to sign up without risk or delay.
The Lithium website is another website worth studying – particularly if you have software that’s challenging to understand. The above-the-fold design on the homepage is simple and eye-popping, while the below-the-fold design is very practical and informative. Once again, whitespace plays a key role in eliminating unnecessary distractions and allowing the critically important elements to stand out.
Software Web Design: Tips, Tricks, and Takeaways
As you can see in the three examples, it’s possible to design a software website that’s both aesthetically pleasing and informative. As you look for ways to improve your own site design, here are some helpful tips, tricks, and takeaways to consider.
- Show proof. Regardless of what type of software you’re selling, your audience has choices. If they don’t like what you’re offering, there’s almost always an alternative. In order to gain the trust of your site visitors and encourage them to choose you, integrate as much social proof into your website as possible.
- Explain features. Instead of going into detail about every single feature your software has, pick a few of the most attractive ones and focus on them. It’s better to provide in-depth analysis of three features than surface-level information on seven or eight.
- Design for multiple devices. Remember that your visitors access your website from a variety of browser types and devices. In order to deliver a seamless experience that’s visually pleasing and highly functional, be sure the site is responsive.
- Always test and change. Finally, web design isn’t something you check off on a list and forget about. Consumer preferences change, styles evolve, and best practices come and go. To maximize conversions, you should continually test your site and adjust accordingly. You’ll be amazed by how tiny tweaks can make such a big difference to the bottom line.
Web design is always challenging, no matter the industry, but it’s particularly difficult when you’re selling an intangible product like software. The demand for minimalism means you can’t say everything you want to say, while the consumer’s desire for information requires that you’re thorough. With the tips and examples highlighted in this article, you should be able to give it your best shot.
If you’ve ever sold a house — or, for that matter, bought one — then you know how essential curb appeal is. The moment someone drives up to a home, what he or she sees from the street tells the person a lot about the property.
The interior may be better or worse than the potential buyer’s expectations, but the first impression formed by the home’s curb appeal creates a significant obstacle to overcome.
In a way, it could be argued that “curb appeal” matters just as much in web design and content marketing. From the moment a visitor glimpses a piece of content — whether it’s a landing page, blog post, infographic, or whatever else your brand presents to the world online — the person is automatically forming opinions about the brand behind that content.
Of course, it’s vital that your content is substantive, but a failure to observe the significance of curb appeal (in other words, visual presentation) will inevitably damage your conversion goals. In order to be successful, you have to give this facet of your content marketing strategy serious thought.
Four Tips for Creating More Appealing Content
Just as we are told to spruce up the landscaping, pressure wash the siding, and stage the entryway of a house before putting it on the market, you should pay attention to how your content might appear to your audience and do everything within your power to make it enticing. Here are four practical tips.
1. Go Easy on the Eyes
When you compare websites in the late 90s to websites today, there are so many distinctions, they’re almost impossible to count. But one of the more significant has been the shift away from bright colors and distracting design elements toward minimalism or greater simplicity.
When you develop content or design a webpage, ask yourself this question: Is it easy on the eyes? You can make any page more aesthetically pleasing by incorporating more white space, relying on images instead of text, and using a simple color scheme.
The Rotate website is a good example of design that’s easy on the eyes.
2. Break Up the Text
One of the biggest mistakes you can make — especially in the current trend toward bite-sized content — is to overwhelm users with large chunks of text. As soon as most people see dense paragraphs and a steady stream of text, they’re going to disengage and hit the back button.
There’s nothing wrong with putting lots of information on a page in the form of text (long-form content is honestly pretty popular right now), but you should try to find ways to break it up and provide visual relief. The Salvi, Schostok, & Pritchard website is a good example. The firm uses a variety of visual elements to inform without overwhelming.
3. Limit the Sales Pitch
People are tired of being pitched all the time. They don’t appreciate being sold over and over again.
It’s all right to include a call to action and/or an opt-in form within a piece of content, but limit the sales pitch and focus on adding value. Not only does this build trust with the audience, but it usually results in a greater visual symmetry.
4. Focus on Above-the-Fold Design
Every individual element matters, but if you’re going to put more focus and energy into one portion of a web page, make sure you prioritize above-the-fold design. This is what people see first, so it’s what will have the most long-lasting impact.
Create a Positive First Impression
Whether you’re shopping for a house or reading a blog post, first impressions have considerable influence over the judgments of the human brain and, for better or worse, often dictate the attitudes an individual develops toward the subject.
Make sure you’re doing your content marketing a favor by placing an emphasis on visual appeal.
There’s a lot of talk about creating website authority, but most advice falls short of the truth. You can’t just go learn about a subject, become an expert overnight, and expect your website to compete.
You can achieve some level of success without being a true expert, but you’ll never compete.
If creating a successful blog isn’t enough and you want to completely dominate your niche, here’s how to do it:
1. Become a real expert
To dominate your niche, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes, even if it requires time.
To become a genuine expert, pursue your subject matter as if you were aiming to be the world’s leading authority. Don’t just gather information from the internet and memorize data. Put yourself in the middle of your niche, in all possible positions, to learn from first-hand experience.
For instance, if your niche is coffee and espresso, it’s not enough to read about the World Barista Championships and learn various ways to grind and brew coffee. If you’ve never been behind an espresso machine serving customers, you don’t know the coffee industry.
Being able to brew a perfect pour over according to your preferences isn’t enough. Only an expert knows the craft well enough to personalize the brewing process for a variety of customer preferences. Only then can you claim expert status.
Being an expert in your niche often requires on-the-job interaction in a customer-facing environment in order to bring your understanding full circle. Don’t be afraid to take on a part-time job to expand your understanding.
2. Be genuinely passionate about your niche
First, ask yourself if the niche you’ve chosen is something you can be passionate about. Be careful not to confuse your passion for domination with a passion for the actual subject matter. Would you be interested in your niche if it didn’t hold the potential to make you money? If not, you’ve chosen the wrong niche.
If you don’t have a driven passion for your subject matter, you’ll never dominate your niche because you’ll give up when things get tough. Passion will drive you forward in tough times.
3. Maintain a distraction-free workplace
On the road to domination, every second counts. You hired people to free up your time, but are you paying them to be distracted?
When your team is distracted or performing unnecessary tasks, you’re paying them to waste time (and money).
Your team may not even know they’re distracted if the systems they’re using aren’t efficient. Maintaining a distraction-free workplace requires refining the processes and systems used by your entire team.
- Your accountant should be using expense tracking software that integrates easily with payroll software to avoid extra work. You could hire a programmer to hack a connection, but that costs time and money.
- Your network administrator should be that puts the data they need right on their monitor. They shouldn’t be wasting time manually retrieving log files from the server. They’ll do their best work with a live performance monitor to help them catch and resolve issues quickly.
4. Don’t curate content – create it
According to EContentmag.com, content curation is “the act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter.”
In other words, curating content is gathering and presenting someone else’s content. This works for creating a successful website, but it won’t help you dominate.
To dominate, you need to create authentic, original content with a unique perspective. In order to have a unique perspective to present, you need to be an expert in your niche.
5. Hire a professional copywriter
Everyone thinks they can write their own copy – but the truth is that you need a professional. Copywriters aren’t the same as content writers. A copywriter constructs copy from a marketing perspective and knows how to tell a good story that motivates people to action.
A-list copywriter John Carlton explains how to hire a freelance copywriter the right way. Carlton isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, “… this is gonna be one of the most time-and-money intensive relationships you have in your business. Copy is the MAIN ELEMENT in your ability to attract prospects and close them as customers. (Yes, the quality of what you offer matters… but never forget that the Marketing Graveyard is crammed with superior products that died horrible and fast deaths because no one figured out how to sell them.)”
Master your niche first
At the end of the day, your success depends on mastering your niche with a thorough understanding before attempting to dominate it on the web.