Great content has five common elements.
1. It is well written. The tone is engaging. The grade level is suitable for the target reader – sixth to eighth grade is what most newspapers aim for and it is fine for the Internet too. Triple check that spelling and grammar are correct.
Most site visitors skim the content. Use exciting words and plenty of white space. You are fighting for the reader’s attention so copy should be crisp and clean, the ideas must jump out. Errors in grammar or spelling send a message that the site owner is sloppy in communication with — or worse, uncaring about — potential customers!
Bullet points and numbered lists help get key ideas noticed, as is the judicious use of bolding or underlining.
2. Content is customized to the target audience. If you are writing to parents, hip-hop jargon or current slang is inappropriate. On the other hand, if you are writing a piece for snowboarding enthusiasts, the use of a small bit of jargon gives you credibility. Use it sparingly though so readers who are not familiar with the sport will not leave the page.
3. Content writers have to optimize content twice. The first pass can be for SEO and the critical second pass is to make sure the content is of high quality. The object of maintaining a web presence for a business is to get the potential customer involved. In short, have the content actively recruit leads.
One example of how to accomplish this is to give post a summary of interesting information, such as a summary of the rankings of the top ten snowboarding sites. To get the potential client’s contact information, offer the complete report in exchange for the email address.
4. Good content services encourage their writers not to sell on anything but a squeeze or sales page. Web and blog content should be relevant to the interests of the target audience. As in our snowboarding enthusiast example – the top ten sites do not relate directly to the sale of snowboard gear. But, the topic provides interesting content. High-quality content that will have visitors return informs, advises, creates keen interest or educates. It does not try to sell.
5. How effective content is can be measured by free analytical tools such as Google Analytics. Among all the great information available is “time on page.” If you do not have visitors staying for at 45 seconds to one minute, it is a good bet that your content is skipped over. Though you might have many hits, there are no home runs. It is likely that your content is not strong enough to hold a visitor’s interest.
Change your content and make sure to keep it current. Blog, especially, need to be updated often to stay interesting. There is nothing sadder than a blog where the last entry was nine months ago.
Alan E is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.