If you have been exposed at all to the Internet marketing lexicon in the past few years, you know that content is among its most discussed elements, and with very good reason. Even the most modestly savvy Internet users consume content every day, be it news articles, editorials, reviews, or even information on a product or service.
There is a reason Bill Gates said “Content Is King” back in ’96, and there is a reason that it is still said to this day. Content is where the value is, and new content offers new value. New value is what keeps us coming back.
Unfortunately, the original purpose of web content can be easily lost in the craze to keep fresh content coming, a mistake made by numerous online businesses trying to gain an edge. The result is content without value. What is content without value? Well, it’s filler. In the age of the Internet, where we are bombarded with so much information and not enough time to absorb it, nothing will kill interest in your product or service faster than filler.
So, in the interest of providing a good experience to your users, here are five quick questions to ask about your new content idea to ensure it adds value:
Am I saying something original?
Originality is key to value. If you are attempting to replicate someone else’s article on your website, stop. Not only are you plagiarizing and making the web more convoluted, but you have an excellent chance of driving people away. If you were able to find the article, so can your users, and few users will continue to view you as an expert in your niche after seeing you replicate someone else’s article.
The preferable option would be to link to the article in question along with your analysis or commentary. If you are adding something new to the conversation, you are providing value to your users.
Am I saying something conducive to conversation?
Content is an excellent way to actively engage your users. You don’t want to get overly technical in your posts, and be sure to encourage conversation. If you are not participating in the comment section of your posts, start. It’s always encouraging to see a company directly engage with its users.
Is the content congruent with my offered product/service?
It is very important that the content and value offered are in line with your offered products or services. It wouldn’t make much sense for Kathy’s Specialty Duvets and Comforters to write a blog post detailing how to change the oil in your ’05 Accord. A little fun is great every once in a while to give your blog some flavor, as I was certainly guilty of this in my Breaking Bad post from earlier this year, but keep it reasonable. Most of your users are just looking for information in your niche. Keep them coming back by offering just that.
Does this content suggest future value?
In the end, providing valuable content is all about getting users to come back to your site again and again. Be sure to remind users that they have every reason to do so, either by discussing what content is to come (“Be sure to check out our upcoming post on blah blah blah!”) or even doing blog posts in series. You want to give your users every indication that if they return to your site regularly, they will be rewarded with added value every time.
Could I say more?
You never want your content to look incomplete.
…See how strange that looks as an ending? Every piece of content on your website should appear complete in every respect, as it reinforces your status as an expert in your niche and your website as a source of valuable content. If your options are to either publish an incomplete blog post on time or to publish a complete blog post late, always take the latter option. Your users can forgive a late blog post, but it will be much harder to forgive the unprofessional look of a hastily slapped together piece of content.
If your content is able to make it through the gauntlet of these five simple questions, then you have content that provides value to your users. Valuable content encourages users to return to your site again and again, and return users are some of the best advocates for your business on the web.
Nathan Taylor is the SEO Manager at Highly Relevant. When he isn’t hard at work building links and optimizing websites, he enjoys casually strolling through Westwood with his wife and dogs. In 2008, he was voted to have the 5th Best Broadcasting Voice in Kentucky.