In today’s world, good Web content just isn’t going to cut it. You need outstanding content.
If you want a website that doesn’t just get by, but flourishes, there are seven key elements you must include in your content. Let’s take a look.
1. Provide Value
Passion and a skill for words are only two components of outstanding content. You could be the best wordsmith on the Internet but gain ZERO followers if your content doesn’t provide one thing to your audience: value.
Readers are drawn to content that benefits them. Luckily, there are many ways to provide value—it’s just a matter of identifying the benefits your audience wants, and then catering to those needs.
(Source: Flikr, ddesk)
For example, a home improvement business might provide helpful how-tos and DIY guidelines for their customers. A Web hosting site could publish tips for troubleshooting server problems or advice on common mistakes to avoid when setting up a website.
The idea is to cater to your customer demographics in a way that resonates with them and offers tangible value. Do this over and above your business’ specific products or services, and you’ll win loyal readers.
When you sit down to plan your content, consider your audience and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I writing to/for?
- What problems or questions do my customers have?
- Is there information or resources at my disposal that would interest or benefit my readers?
- What content is currently trending in my niche? Do I have anything to add to the conversation?
By answering these questions, you can begin to delve deeper into topics that are relevant and useful for your target audience.
2. Cite Sources
Opinion pieces have their place in the content world, but cold hard facts tend to resonate with readers. Data and statistics lend weight and credibility to your authority, increasing readers’ trust in you and your content.
Where possible, back up your claims with facts and stats from credible sources throughout your posts. You can also publish fact sheets—a type of post that’s especially appealing to readers who love to read small, digestible pieces of information all in one place.
Fact posts are also more shareable, as you can make each individual stat Tweetable or ready to share on Facebook.
3. Make it Newsworthy
The best content is often current and newsworthy. Instead of shooting in the dark, hoping your content ideas will stick, do some research. Identify trending topics within your niche as well as in broader media and pop culture.
(Source: Flickr, docoverachiever)
Then look for connections.
Ask yourself how different current events are relevant to your industry or niche. Sometimes the connection will be direct and obvious, other times you may have to get creative. But don’t let a loose connection deter you—it often leads to an original idea and more intriguing content for your readers.
People want to know how events will affect them in different ways. By relating your content to current events and trending issues, you make your content relevant and relatable to your audience.
4. Be Personal
The most powerful content makes a personal connection. Econsultancy found that 52% of digital marketers agree that “the ability to personalize content is fundamental to their online strategy.” While you don’t have to provide personal anecdotes or points of view for every post you publish, try to add a personal touch.
Readers like to know that there is a real person behind the words—don’t be afraid to draw back the curtain so people can see the wizard.
Here are a few simple ways to add personality to your content:
- Share a personal story or example to illustrate your points
- Acknowledge problems or frustrations you share with your audience (and ideally how you solved them)
- Write the way you speak
- Use second-person to address the individual (e.g., “you,” “everyone,” etc.)
Whether your blog is your business or one piece of your online content strategy, make a point of personalizing the message and reaching out to your target audience.
5. Optimize Everything
By now it should go without saying that you need to optimize all your Web content. However, don’t make the mistake of optimizing your site merely for the search engines.
While this is an important factor of optimization, if you aren’t taking into account the actual users, your efforts will be largely wasted. As you optimize your content, make sure it is also user-friendly.
- Include targeted keywords in your copy, titles, meta-descriptions, and tags
- Add calls to action after every blog post and promotional content
- Use high-quality images with optimized alt descriptions
- Craft winning headlines and engaging content
- Post content regularly
- Design intuitive (read: user-friendly) site navigation
- Decrease page loading time
Let’s talk about that last point for a moment.
According to Econsultancy, a whopping 40% of users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. That means you have, realistically, fractions of seconds just to convince users to look at your site—let alone stick around and engage with it.
To ensure they do just that, evaluate your site.
Many of the steps I mentioned above (like optimizing images) will improve your load times. But also consider reducing the number of plugins you use and the number of redirects on your site (important if you use a responsive design for mobile users). Redirects increase HTTP requests, increasing page speed.
Additionally, make sure your Web hosting provider offers the right services. If your site gets a lot of traffic, lower budget hosts may not be able to accommodate you. There are many shared Web site hosting services as well as dedicated servers, like Midphase, that can handle higher traffic sites without compromising page speeds. Look for providers who offer the following packages:
- 99.9% guaranteed uptime
- 24/7 tech support
- Convenient upgrade options
These factors will ensure that you get the best service possible, and that your host will be able to handle any issues quickly and effectively, so your website (and traffic) don’t suffer.
6. Include Mobile Interface
According to Margin Media, 52%of users said they would beless likely to engage with a companyif themobile experience on their site was bad. And 48% said that if they arrive on a site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication that the business doesn’t care.
(Source: Flikr, meedanphotos)
Clearly, mobile optimization is crucial if you want your website to stand out.
There are various ways to accommodate a mobile design, including responsive design or a separate mobile version of your site. Econsultancy found that 62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales.
Various plugins are also available through WordPress, such as WPtouch Pro, which optimize your blog for mobile devices. Depending on your budget and needs, determine which option is best for you.
7. Go Deeper
Marketers and writers will tell you that the key to great content is originality. However, no one is completely original. That is why you can search almost any topic and find multiple resources and articles answering your questions.
While adding personality to your content can put some originality and life into your work, it is depth that can set your content apart.
When you plan your content, look for ways to delve into the information. Ask questions that don’t have intuitive or obvious answers—then try to provide those in a post.
For example, instead of writing about “5 Secrets to Good Business,” go more in-depth on a specific topic under that umbrella. Like, “How to Use Text Marketing to Promote Your Small Business.”
Be sure that you then provide information that is thorough, specific, and useful for your audience. Don’t patronize your readers with obvious information or statements. Instead, cater to their needs by giving them valuable information they can’t easily find somewhere else.
Not only will this attract a loyal following, but you will establish yourself as an authority online and an expert in your field.
And that is good for business.
Creating outstanding website content requires a lot of hard work and preparation. Don’t settle for average—most of your competition is average. Instead, look for those small changes you can make to your site and content development that will improve its user value and quality.
What are some ways you have taken your content to the next level?
- 7 Tips that Take Your Content from Flat to Fabulous - May 26, 2014