Internet marketers know all too well what Google has been preaching for years – content is king. It’s what drives the web and it’s the reason for the massive reach the Internet provides – in excess of one billion daily users. These users have traditionally used the Internet as a means to acquire information; to learn more about a topic, get some advice on dealing with a situation, find out more about a product or service, etc. Even social media – which has more than its fair share of valueless content – exists to provide users with information that interests them; even if it’s the most mundane and trivial thing (i.e. your friend Amanda that you haven’t spoken to in 5 years just had a tuna fish sandwich for lunch or that Paris Hilton just picked her tenth “BFF”). The bottom line is – users will go wherever the content they’re interested in is.
How to get users interested in your content
The next logical question would be; how do I do this? How do I get users interested in what I have to say?
For starters – you would obviously want to talk about something that interests the people whose attention you’re trying to get. If, for example, you’re trying to attract technology enthusiasts to your website, blog, or landing page, you’ll need to talk about things they’re interested in (iPhones, Google’s latest fad, etc.). Simple enough, right?
The problem facing most content creators (and users too) is the overwhelming myriad of boring, irrelevant, stolen, or just plain bad content lying around in cyberspace. Google does a decent job of putting the best and most original content at the top of its results by assessing the value of the content produced by the various websites it finds. They do this in a variety of ways (hundreds of ranking factors in fact) but your priority as a content creator should be to create content that has high value to your users. History has repeatedly shown that it works much better (for conversions and for search engine optimization) to work on making your readers happy than to try gaming Google’s search algorithms.
So how do we create value? Or – better yet – how do we define value? In the strictest sense of the word – value is about what your content brings to the table (metaphorically speaking). What do your users get out of reading your content? A common misconception is that content needs to be factual and almost academic in nature to have any real value; but, if this were true, the endless list of successful websites that talk endlessly about pop culture (Justin Bieber’s latest antics for example) would almost seem to defy logic. Obviously there’s a bit more to it than that.
Value-added content is content that improves the user’s experience in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about providing information that they need (though this a probably the most significant niche and the easiest to “break into”). It doesn’t even have to involve telling them anything they don’t already know! Sometimes you can create value with your content simply by writing in an engaging way that presents facts they’re already familiar with in a newer, or funnier, way. Political blogs or music critic blogs are a good example. Even your original opinion (especially when expressed in a way that appeals to your target audience) can make your content incredibly valuable to your readers – and this will make them happy.
Why You Need to Make A Priority Of Adding Value To Your Content
So, finally, why do you need to do this? Why do you want your users happy? I know it almost seems like a rhetorical questions but let’s look at all the lovely things happy users can do for you.
1. Sharing. Surprised to not see conversions at the top of this list? Yes – conversions are important (especially if you’re a marketer reading this) and we’ll get to them later; but my experience as an internet marketer and blogger and shown me that getting your content shared on social media holds almost immeasurable value for any kind of campaign. Content that goes viral across the various platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) can drive hundreds, thousands, or even millions of users to a previously unknown website or blog almost overnight. I’m not exaggerating here… Ask any web hosting provider about the time one of their servers went down because some little blog with an average daily readership of a few hundred at most got a million hits in a day and brough their shared web server down. Fortunately, most web hosts are better at handling this kind of thing so you won’t have to worry about that.
2. Conversions. Yes – this is super-important if you’re a marketer. Happy readers are more likely to buy stuff, sign up for stuff, join stuff, or whatever else you’d like them to do than bored readers (who are far more likely to hit that back button after giving your boring article a scathing look of disgust) Okay maybe not quite so dramatic but you get the idea… More conversions usually mean more income which is always great. What’s even better, though, is when you can combine a high conversion rate with an equally high share rate on social media. You can literally bank on that being one of the best experiences of your life – pun definitely intended.
3. Return Visits. Finally, happy users that love your value-added content will bookmark your page and come back on their own. Reader acquisition can be expensive so it makes a lot of sense to make sure that the visitors you do get have every reason to stick around.
It makes a lot of sense to think of your content as a product. The best companies invest time, energy, and (often) money in perfecting their products because they know the importance of staying ahead of the competition. Your goal needs to be providing the best content available in your niche – the kind of content that gets you talked about and adds value to your brand’s online presence.