Regardless of the topic or goals of your blog or website, you need solid content to fill your site. You’re looking for something that has the potential to really go viral. You’re hoping for a subject that will really incite people to leave comments and join the conversation. You don’t just want to add content in an effort to meet an artificially important quota; you want meaningful and substantial content.
In the world of blogging and web development, one adage has risen above all others, “Content is King.” We understand that websites are a combination of design elements, usability, navigation, load speed, interactivity and content. More importantly, we understand that content is the king that rises above all others.
With compelling content, a weak performance in these other areas of your website will be overlooked. With weak content, even the most beautiful and easy to use websites will ultimately fail to achieve any notable level of success.
To produce the greatest level of success, I’ve always advocated that bloggers and website developers spend time developing each of these areas to their fullest potential. It’s what I refer to as the total package. In other words, a plane with four engines will probably get in the sky fastest with all four engines running. But since this is a lesson on developing content, I digress.
Laying The Groundwork: Compelling & Engaging
The two core concepts that we want to achieve as the defining attributes for our content are compelling and engaging.
- Compelling: According to Webster’s dictionary, compelling is defined as “forceful; demanding attention.” They even go so far as to provide an example sentence to clarify its meaning, “The novel was so compelling that I couldn’t put it down.”
- Engaging: According to Webster’s dictionary, engaging is defined as “tending to draw favorable attention or interest.” And gain we have example usage provided, “A movie with an engaging story that will hold your interest for a couple of hours.”
These definitions and example sentences demonstrate perfectly the type of material that you want to provide at your blogs and websites. You want your material to be so powerful that it drives people as if by force to read, participate in the conversations, and connect with you as members of your community. You then want to keep them engaged drawing them in for longer and more frequent visits to your site.
The 4 Basic Forms of Online Content
The actual scope of material that the term content can cover is actually much larger than most bloggers generally think. Don’t allow yourself to become restricted to thinking only of the written word. Content goes far beyond that and can also include videos, photos and audio.
- Videos: With the advent of high speed internet, sites that provide high quality videos have been on the rise. Of course, as most of you think of video content there is one household name that probably pops into your mind before all others…YouTube. Of course, others like DocType TV, the show for people who make websites, are using video content to educate and entertain their audiences. High quality, well-produced video is perhaps the most engaging form of online content.
- Photos: If a picture is worth a thousand words then how many words would it take to describe the content on a website like Flickr? Audiences are naturally attracted to that which visually stimulates them. An impressive car, a beautiful girl, and a bright, vivid landscape are all excellent examples of photographic subject matter that can lure in your audience by appealing to their visual senses.
- Audio: As Apple’s iPods, iPads and iPhones have been steadily taking over the world, there has been a massive shift toward podcasting and other forms of downloadable audio. Sites like Pandora and Last.fm have been capitalizing on this trend and are working to provide people with easy access to their favorite audio media.
- Articles: Every blogger seems convinced that they’re already producing excellent quality articles for their readers to enjoy but let’s remember what John Wooden once quipped, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Stop trying to convince yourself that your written content is excellent and that there must be some other hidden ingredient holding you back from success and start searching for the weak points in your writing that are crippling your successes. A full cup can take no water.
The 3 Basic Categories of Online Content
As you become more experienced online, you will eventually grow to realize that there are three distinct reasons that people are surfing the internet.
- Education: Many visitors, especially those coming from search engines, are looking for information on specific topics. They want guides that explain how to do something in a way that is quick and easy to understand. They want to be educated on a particular skill or on a particular bit of knowledge. Wikipedia is a perfect example of a site that appeals to users seeking knowledge.
- Entertainment: Many users browse the internet simply to pass the time, to amuse themselves, or to find something to make them laugh. Many television networks are now broadcasting their programming across the internet to draw in this group of online traffic. Youtube is an amazingly popular example of a site that appeals to entertainment focused users.
- Engagement: With the advent of social media like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, there is ever growing demographic of users online who are searching for ways to connect and engage with other people. People are drawn to sites where the comment sections are used to carry on substantial conversations.
Take the time to improve your content and you’ll be amazed at the dramatic change you’ll see at your online community. Mingle all four different forms (video, photo, audio and articles) of content into your site and work hard to increase your site’s level of education, entertainment and engagement.
You’ll be glad that you did. More importantly, your audience will be glad that you did.