In the second part of our piece looking at what defines good content, we will look at the external factors of whether or not a piece of content is successful, and by what criteria success is measured. As we saw in the first half, an excellent piece of/source of content won’t make a splash if no one knows about it, as seen in the blog of Halloweencostumes.com/blog.
TL;DR – Content must be sympathetic to it’s context, and must have been created with a specific purpose. Content without a point is never a valuable use of the reader’s time, nor of the company’s resources that produced it. Good content can be made great content by careful placement in an overall website, and functional crosslinks within a site will benefit all of the content hosted within.
Even if you have a great piece of content, if it exists in isolation, you’re going to see a high bounce rate and all you’re left with is the page view, which without a conversion isn’t worth anything (unless you’re hosting ads, but even then you still want to minimise the bouncing). A lead isn’t going to put any effort into looking for more content by you, you need to lay it in front of them by providing links to other content, and to the product you’re trying to sell (if that product isn’t the content itself). A post in the Moz.com community highlights this exact issue. The content itself was receiving good hit rates and was benefitting their SERP results, but the 80-90% bounce rate was leaving a sour taste.
The Moz community suggested rearranging the format of the page to more naturally direct the user to other content and relevant articles, and to make the most of their own analytics by listing a ‘what’s hot’ or ‘recommended’ list of other content.
- Ideally, your content will link to other content, building a picture of an author/company well versed in the industry in which it operates
One of my personal favourites when it comes to smart web page design is Jalopnik.com, which combines a slick interface with a very well implemented internal-link-suggestion system which means that a new visitor can easily find content embedded throughout the article, relevant to what they have already established as their interests. There is also a list of recommended articles by the same author, establishing brand loyalty to the author and not just the website. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), Jalopnik hosts a very strong community in each comments section, and authors often interact within the comments section. Recently the editors have been promoting in-depth posts by their userbase to the homepage, according them equal levels of prominence to main line articles. Similar examples can be found across the websites of Gawker Media.
- Nurturing a strong community on your website, be it on a forum or in comments on your content is an excellent way of generating new leads/traffic.
- Jalopnik.com is also an example of a website with good crosslinking.
To utilise an example from my last roundup, the Michelin brothers expertly identified the customer base that they were after and crafted a content strategy aimed explicitly at them, although they probably didn’t call it a content strategy. Probably more like çontént strâtègîe or some crazy thing. The important thing is that they knew who they were after and that was their singular focus during both the conceptual stage (we want folks to buy new cars so they can use this book) and production stage (these are all great places to visit in the new car you just bought). An authoritative assessment of the 2013 MotoGP season won’t generate many leads if you’re trying to sell internet kettles, outside of the admittedly lucrative bike-racing-online-kettle-enthusiast demographic.
- It can be tempting to write the article you’re interested in and retroactively try to fit it into what is needed, but this rarely works. Content must be created for the market, the market won’t gravitate to the content.
On a related note, try to remember what it is you’re trying to achieve with this content. You are trying generate sales leads. Unless your only product is content, getting your content shared is not your primary goal, you are after conversions. Blatant upselling is unseemly, but the nature of subject of your content should be something at least tangentially to do with a problem that your product has been designed to resolve.
- Content does not exist purely to entertain. The author must always have an eye on the company’s interests, the content needs to generate new business for the company that birthed it.
Of course there is the matter of getting the word out. If a deftly-written, expertly-balanced item of short literature is published in the forest, and no one is around to read it, is it still good content? Hives of sharing such as Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and apparently, Pinterest are great places to start. If your efforts are good enough to propagate on their own merits then once they up picked up, that’s half your work done right there, it is so easy to be in touch with popular face of the internet that many people will be eyes-on within days or even hours. On the other hand, you really shouldn’t expect something to go viral. The vast amount of data moving around the internet these days means that anything less than Scarlett-Johansson-in-the-shower is more than likely to get lost in the background noise. This is why you should expect to maintain a steady output of high quality content, well-marketed across several networks and reinforcing a quality product. Only Buzzfeed has a large enough userbase to output total garbage and still get the pageviews.
- One should not pin all their hopes on one article, no matter how well researched and written. ‘Content’ is not a concrete noun, and when incorporated into a marketing strategy does not mean one token article stating the obvious. A good content strategy involves a steady output of useful material.
Above all, have a plan. Although one might be tempted to sit back and let inspiration take you for a journey around the internet, the article you have at the end of it will be of no interest to anyone aside from you. Content must always fit into an overarching marketing strategy, as one part of it, not the whole strategy. It must always serve to reinforce and sell the product/service, to expand public awareness of the company and improve it’s perception, and help establish the brand itself. Otherwise you’re just a part of the noise