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November 6, 2013

What, Exactly, is Good Content?

What is good content? It’s a question that I see pop up everywhere, and with so many people hopping on the content marketing bandwagon, it only makes sense that business owners would want to know what separates the good content from the readers-are-going-to-run-screaming content.

So, what exactly is good content?  Is it content that’s grammatically correct?  Is it content that incorporates a lot of facts and figures?  Is it a snappy headline?  A barrel of belly laughs?  Something that makes readers happy?  Sad?  Angry?

No matter what niche you’re in, good content means one thing — getting readers to take action.

Think about it, the article or blog post you’re about to publish is going to be surrounded by thousands (if not millions) of other pieces on the same subject.  So, the first thing your content needs to do is entice people to click on YOUR headline.  That’s a very specific action that most business owners fail at.

Why?

Many of them don’t know how to create a compelling headline, so they simply blend in with the rest of the crowd.  Some go to the other end of the spectrum and create headlines that are so sensational that they generate eye rolls instead of clicks.

The headline on good content poses an important question or promises to share important information in a way that your target audience won’t be able to resist.  For example, what would you rather click on — an article titled ‘Explaining Self-Inflicted Alopecia,’ or ‘Could You Be Causing Your Own Hair Loss?’ The first one sounds like a boring research paper, but the second one is likely to make a balding Web searcher think, “Hmm… Have I done something to cause this receding hairline?”

Once you’ve convinced readers to click on your content, the action has to kick into high gear.  Specifically, your content has to encourage people to keep reading.  Slate recently published a graph that explains how people read their online stories.  Amazingly, a huge number of people didn’t even bother to scroll — meaning they got through the first couple of paragraphs and called it day.  In fact, there were almost as many ‘non-scrollers’ as there were people who read the entire article all the way through.  According to Slate’s research, the vast majority of their readers only made it through 50 percent of the article before leaving.

And, after studying other websites, they say that’s the trend.  Web readers simply don’t have the patience to make it through most of the content out there.

If you’ve convinced people to read through your entire article or blog post, there is still one very important action they need to take — visiting your website, buying your product, or joining your e-mail list.  After all, good content is a pre-sell of your services.  Good content convinces your readers that you really do know what you’re talking about.  If they see you as an expert, they’re going to want to see more of what you have to offer.

Which leads us to the final action…

Good content is going to convince your readers to learn more about you.  So, you’ve got to be able to back this action up.  Having a website that’s full of awful sales copy or that’s hard to navigate is going to make people think twice about calling you an expert.  Instead, you’ve got to provide expertise from start to finish.  You don’t want people to think of you as The Guy Who Only Published One Good Article.  That doesn’t do a whole lot for your reputation.  After all, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

If you truly want to master good content, you’ve got to commit to it for the long haul.  Publishing good content on a regular basis will prove that you’re a steady rock in your field.

Can you think of a better way to set yourself apart?  I sure can’t.


avatar

Nicole Beckett prides herself on helping her clients stand out. She has helped countless businesses make their mark on the web. If you're looking for great content, you'll get it from Nicole and the team at Premier Content Source.

2 Responses to “What, Exactly, is Good Content?

    avatar Byron Hardie says:

    Thanks Nicole, though many professional writers use these techniques to deliver engaging information it has been my experience that the Internet and many social channels are filled with content producers that are simply lazy. They prefer the sheer volume of low-quality information rather than taking the time to produce something with real impact.

    Years ago this was done as spider food for search engines but now more than ever it is important to understand the audience, what influences them, and what catches their attention. At the same time the content should align with the brand message and build authority.

    Thanks for the post.

    Byron, I couldn’t agree more! You’re right, the web is full of corner-cutters — both the writers themselves AND the people who hire them. I guess they just don’t realize how important it is to send the right message to their readers. I simply shake my head in amazement when I see some of the stuff that people are publishing!

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