If you Google pretty much any phrase in the world right now, a seemingly endless number of highly relevant search results that will pop up immediately. Millions of articles and blog posts are ready to answer any question you could ever imagine having.
This is great for readers, but it’s not always great for businesses and brands who are trying to create great website content that will stand out amongst the competition.
There is some good news, though.
There is no quality control when it comes to what people are allowed to publish online, so while there’s millions of articles, maybe only three or four are actually any good on a single subject. As a result, there is a lot more bad content than good content, so if you’re producing high quality work and distributing it correctly, you’ll grow a readership over time.
But what exactly is great website content? What makes it great?
Fortunately, it’s not as much of a secret as some of the self-proclaimed gurus might want you to think. Instead, there are seven key factors that can determine whether or not readers want to stay on your page and we’re going to go over all of them right now.
1. It’s Actionable
Have you ever read an article promising you to teach you how to do something and once it was over, you were still left in the dark? Maybe you understood the importance of using Bing Ads, but you didn’t actually know how to even get started creating them.
This type of content leaves you hanging because it isn’t actionable and it won’t keep readers on your site long.
Actionable website content, on the other hand, will be highly valued by readers. It doesn’t just tell them why, it shows them how. You can use step-by-step tutorials, videos, images, and detailed descriptions to walk users through an idea.
If you need examples, take a look at Social Media Examiner—all of their content is always action-driven.
Don’t just tell users to drink apple cider vinegar for their health—tell them to mix a single teaspoon in four ounces of water twice a day, and to drink it before eating a meal. Tell them exactly what type of apple cider vinegar to get and maybe even include a few links on where to buy it. This will ultimately set you apart, and it will keep readers coming back to you again and again.
2. It’s Credible
Have you ever read a blog post making really big claims about some astonishing new technique or theory and didn’t quite believe it? There’s a good chance that you feel this way because the article or the author didn’t come across as credible. That may have happened because they didn’t link to reputable sources or statistics to back up their claims.
Which sounds better:
By installing solar panels on your roof, you can save a big chunk of cash on your energy bills every year.
By installing solar panels on your roof, you can reduce your energy bill by as much as 76%, with a 58% savings being the national average. This translates to an average of about $83 per month—that’s a big chunk of cash.
The second is obviously much more convincing and persuasive (although, those statistics are all made up, which would actually undermine my credibility if I was trying to sell solar panels…but it makes my point here).
Lots of data, stats and research-backed evidence will be your salvation here, even if the data is coming from your own case studies.
Don’t make this mistake. Don’t rob yourself of credibility or the impact that your article could have had just by thinking that something is common knowledge, or that your expertise is enough for people to trust you. Many people, after all, may be coming to you for the first time.
3. It’s Original
There’s a lot of website content out there and there’s guaranteed to be some overlap, but you still never want to put out something that feels like it’s been done a million times before. You need to put your own unique spin on it.
If you don’t, customers are going to get really bored because they’re tired of seeing the same content rehashed again and again on different sites with nothing new to offer.
For example, let’s say that I’m a blogger who wants to write about the clothing subscription box Stitch Fix so I can drop my affiliate link and get some referral cash.
The only problem is, there are a million Stitch Fix reviews out there—some women even blog about their box every month.
To stand out, I can’t just write a generic review. Instead, I need to write one about how as a thin, petite women, this company has given me many more clothing options that actually fit without me needing to get them tailored.
This will appeal to a smaller section of the audience, but it would also speak to that niche audience in a much stronger way. Because it’s original, it will also serve a unique purpose online, fulfilling a need that hasn’t been filled yet.
To help create website content that feels original, I’ll sometimes actually go check out what’s already been written. I’ll look for holes in the story, or try to imagine other questions that users might ask that this post hasn’t answered. Examine the content as a reader, and create the posts that you want to see, but haven’t been able to find.
4. It’s Thought-Provoking
While your website content absolutely needs to be original, well-written and actionable, it will get the best results if it’s thought-provoking.
If you’re able to keep people thinking about your post instead of just skimming through to look for quick data, readers will keep checking in to see what you have to say next.
Thought-provoking content will keep people thinking about you long after they leave your site. It’s interesting and it’s memorable. This is also what people love to engage with and share on their own social media, carrying the conversations with them there.
Not sure where to get started? You can offer an insider’s take on something like a trending topic, you could bust a myth, or you could write about something a little controversial (as long as you don’t risk isolating your audience).
5. It’s Easy to Read
This one should be a no-brainer. Your website content should be easy and enjoyable to read, or readers are going to click away fast. This means that it should be:
- Well-written. We don’t need the grammar nazis knocking down your door.
- Easy to read quickly. Use relatively short sentences and keep the esoteric jargon for behind-the-scenes talk. Most readers will only consume content if it’s below a tenth grade reading level, with a sixth or seventh grade reading level coming in at the sweet spot (I’m not kidding.). You can install Yoast’s SEO plugin to evaluate your content’s readability level.
- Easy to scan. Partially because of the massive amounts of content out there, sometimes people will scan website content for highlights before reading. Use subheads, bullet lists and short paragraphs to make it easier for users to do this.
- Broken up into sections. Visually, break up the big chunks of text of users will run away faster than a child confronted with Brussel sprouts. Again, use those subheads, but also add plenty of images to help do this.
Think about the content that you love. There’s a good chance that it doesn’t resemble a book, but instead is incredibly concise and accessible for a large number of readers. That’s what you want.
6. It Provides Value
If you want readers to keep coming back to your site and to truly love your blog, you need to provide them with content that offers value. That value can be in entertainment, education, or solving one of their problems. It doesn’t matter which, as long as you’re giving them something that they want or need.
Creating valuable website content often closely ties in with blog posts are are original and actionable. If you can offer a solution, for example, for how to wash and peel vegetables 3x faster and eliminating all bacteria instead of 98%, people are going to pay attention.
Similarly, a step-by-step tutorial of how to set up Bing Ads with lots of screen shots or a video will be more useful to readers than an article just saying why you should use Bing Ads.
Keep the value in mind when you’re creating each blog post, eBook, and video, knowing exactly what you’re going to offer users and why they’ll be invested.
7. It Has a Purpose
All website content needs to be focused so that you don’t go on a big, long rant that just leaves readers confused about what you were even talking about (we’ve all read content like this and it’s frustrating).
Everything you write and create needs to have a purpose for what you want to accomplish.
Unlike all the other criteria on this list, you don’t necessarily need to think about the audience first when you’re deciding what you want the purpose of each blog post or infographic or video to be.
Sometimes, it’s easier to start in reverse, asking yourself what your goals are and what you want to accomplish. Do you want to raise brand awareness, or generate leads?
Consider how different types of content could help with those specific goals, and then utilize your knowledge of your audience to create something they’d love to read and act on.
What good is your website content, after all, if it does nothing to serve your brand?
We’re living in an over-saturated online environment, where every other person you meet has a blog and is trying to grow a readership.
By creating great content that offers value to your readers in a number of different ways, you’ll be able to grow your subscriber base on your blog and social channels.
As a result, you’ll also be able to use this website content more successfully for lead generation efforts, giving you an edge over our competition and providing you with a cost-efficient marketing strategy.
What do you think? What do you think are the most important factors when you want to create great content? Which do you think are the ones that most brands forget? Let use know in the comments below!
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