What is Great Content?
If you read about content marketing you will see this phrase often repeated “create and publish great content” this sounds fine a first glance but it is sure to make you wonder about what exactly is great content.
This is a simple question with not-so-simple answer.
Defining great content depends on your point of view. What does it consist of, how is it used, and how to measure its value, are just some of the perspectives to be considered. Let’s take a look at how this breaks down.
What Does Great Content Consist Of?
First of all, great content is something that can be easily read by a person browsing your website. This is not where great content ends but rather where it starts.
To be great, your content has to be easily read by a computer, such as a search engine spider. The first point about making it easy for search engine spiders is that your content has to include text. As powerful as a modern search engine spider is today we have to realize that they still are designed to read text. The modern search engine spider is not very flexible. If you don’t provide them with text they don’t understand your content. This would be a significant weakness for your content.
Search engines can’t reliably read content buried in such types of rich technology. Same goes for text presented within images, videos, animations, and the like. All of that important text is buried deep within the code of the technology. These technologies make it hard for the search engines to understand your content. Hard to understand content is not great content.
My recommendation is to avoid using Flash or JaveScript and to use Custom Style Sheet (CSS) technology instead to make your text look fancy while keeping the page easily readable by a search engine spider. Here is a short video from Matt Cutts on whether Google will be able to read text in graphics any time soon.
Great Content Metadata
Beyond the visible page text you also need to think about the metatags.
Write optimized text for your page <title> and <meta> description tags. If you don’t then you are missing an important opportunity to define the theme of the page for both human users and search engine spiders.
The <title> and <meta> description are typically used in the search engine results pages list. The <title> tag text being the blue-link text, and the <meta> description tag text serving as the descriptive snippet beneath the blue link text.
You need to also use the <h1> and <h2> tags and <img> alt text tag.
The <h1> serves as the on-page headline for the page. The <h2> tag is used for page sub-titles and the <img> alt text is where you can define the content of the image in text form. These tags need to be text and reinforce the message of the page.
Best of all, the text in the tags <title>, <h1>, <h2> and <img> alt text are valued by search engines as high quality sources for defining keywords for the page.
Write great content for human consumption, but think of your primary readers as humans who rely on using search engines to find your great content. If you write great text content for people that is readable by the search engines then both you and your readers win!
How Is Great Content Used?
Great content serves very important purposes. When great content is properly developed and used strategically, it can accomplish one or more of the following:
- Help people understand your topic
- Demonstrate your unique expertise on a subject
- Make people stay on your site and return to it
- Make people want to link to it so other people can access it from their website or blog
- Compel people to do the following:
- Make a purchase
- Download a document, a file, or an app
- Write a review or endorsement
- Subscribe to your site’s RSS feed or eNewsletter
- Generate a +1 on Google Plus
Great content is what the Web was originally designed to facilitate. Write what you know, make it compelling, and people (and search engines) will respond accordingly. It may take time, of course, but even the best viral content started with an initial post.
If the lack of great content is what separates your site from your competitors in the search engine results then you’re not likely to ever surpass them by cutting corners. You’ll need to invest in developing that great content you know you need. Keep in mind that it is not easy to get high position in search. If it was easy then anyone could do it.
So what is this elusive great content you need to create? Read what you have on your site’s pages and ask yourself the following questions (or better yet, ask someone who is not biased toward your site so you’ll get an honest answer):
- Is the content informative?
- Is it authoritative on the subject matter?
- Is it interesting?
- Is it well-written (complete sentences are important, but so is approachable writing rather than being stodgy)?
- Is longer content broken up into well-organized sections by headings?
- Does the content make good and interesting use of visual elements?
- Is the writing free of embarrassing spelling errors or grammatical problems?
- Is it written appropriately toward its intended audience?
- Is the content free of industry-insider jargon, focusing instead on terminology your readers would use (and search for)?
- When appropriate, does the content show your unique voice or even a sense of humor?
How Do You Measure The Value Of Content?
To create and offer the best possible content is always a worthy goal. You may not have the resources to make this happen. If your site is in a small niche market, take a close look at your online competition in search. If those sites are dull, boring, and uninteresting, you just might be able to get away with being a little less boring, dull or uninteresting. At least for a while.
I do not back this approach Why make a poor, half-hearted, lazy attempt to write a blog post or a website page. You do not want to be slightly less boring than something that is boring. Corner-cutting optimization (if there is such a thing) is a tough way to achieve success.
Search engines, like people, seek out great content.
So often websites are conceived as vehicles to promote a business, sell a product or service, or show off some technical handiwork, and writing page content is sometimes and afterthought. Some people consider writing to be drudgery. I even had a client that stated that it made no sense to create text content because no one would read it. I would have to agree that no one will read boring content – why should they when there is great content to be read. To think that no one will read your content because it is boring is a horrendous mistake. The point of the Web, especially if a site owner wants it to be found (and ranked well) in search is to create great content that people desire.
Creating great content should be part of the design process at the beginning. Use your website to tell your story, show what makes you and your business special. This is the essence of great content.
To learn more about content marketing I invite you to take any one of all of our tutorials on content marketing. Here is a direct link to the Content Marketing Introduction Tutorial.