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Content: being king ain't easy

Written by Jeff Allen on July 17, 2014 in How to Sell Products Online

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We’ve all heard that “Content is King,” and having the right content is a fool-proof way to increase traffic to your website. On paper this is pretty straightforward. “Just have content that everybody loves, and everybody will love you.” In reality, great content isn’t so cut-and-dried.

If you have a blog or other content as part of your online business, you’ve no doubt struggled with coming up with new, good content. You see, the internet is saturated with content. Most of it worthless, some of it irrelevant, and only a fraction of it golden.

The internet is a tough market to sell to, especially when it seems that every other business has the perfect content. You don’t want to be a knock-off, but it can seem overwhelming when all of your ideas seem to be retelling old ideas.

While there aren’t any fool-proof ways to get great content (otherwise, people would stop writing articles like this), there are ways to tweak your own.

 

New as a Misnomer

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The most important thing to remember when coming up with content is that “new” is relative. Perhaps Mark Twain said it best:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

With that in mind, we do adapt to new technology and ways of communicating. With the onset of internet, mobile devices, and social media, we’ve had to think of new ways to present our content.

Most importantly, your content needs to grab and hold readers’ attention. The average attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds. That’s 1 second less than your average 5 cent goldfish. Internet has conditioned us to expect our information quickly and efficiently. If we don’t get what we want fast, we’re on to another website.

The KISS Rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid) applies here.  You don't need to write a novel, just write what’s important and good. “Well, what’s that?” Do some research. See what other business and websites similar to yours have been using. If you notice a high level of traffic at these sites, go ahead and use their content. Don’t copy it, of course, but use it to help shape your own.

 

Adapt to Your Market

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If you’re selling inflatable pool volleyball sets, but you see great content on a site selling microwaves, adapt their ideas to better fit your brand. Don’t just have neutral content. That’s good, but it’s not great.

When your content is talking directly to your audience, it pulls them in and holds their attention. It’s engaging. Engaged customers are customers who come back. Engaged customers are customers who talk to their friends about you.

In addition to adapting, write something your audience cares about. Write something that’s useful. It’s great to read an interesting article, but if it does nothing for you, it’s easily forgettable.

Your audience will appreciate the help offered with your content, and that will give them incentive to keep coming back.

 

Timeliness is Next to Godliness

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If you’ve ever written for a news service, or even read the news, you’ll know that nobody cares about yesterday’s news. Don’t put content from 2003 up on your website--nobody will want to read it, even if it’s good information.

When looking for information online, make sure you check the dates. Sometimes it’s not possible to find content within the last week or even month, but make sure it’s at least within the same year.

If there’s a new development that applies to your business, write about it. Stay on top of current events. If your audience knows you’ll always have up-to-date information, they’ll have a reason to keep coming back to you.

 

Make it an Experience

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Involve your audience. Simple as that. Make your content less about you and more about them. Make it all about them, if possible. People don’t want to be talked to, they want to be talked with. If your content becomes a conversation, you’re already better off than half the websites out there.

Add voice to your content. Are you a quirky person? Do you have a dry sense of humor? A different perspective on things? Reflect that in your content. Reading text can be difficult, especially when our 8 second attention span comes into play. Bringing your content to life is a great way to make your content shareable.

Finally, remember that some of the best content out there is written by normal, everyday people who simply have something to say. Don’t dress up your content with formality or you lose the familiarity that readers these day look for.

 

Less About ‘What,’ More About ‘How’

As you continue to come up with content for your website, try to remember that what you use isn’t nearly as important as how you use it. All of this advice is geared towards helping you create an experience for your readers. Engagement and interaction will make your content shine. More importantly, it will make your content heard.

Don’t worry about using content from other websites. Chances are they didn’t come up with it, either. The thing you’ll notice about all these websites, though, is that while their content may all be the same or similar, their presentation varies greatly from site to site.

Come up with your own unique way of presenting content, and you’ll be sure to appeal to your audience in a way that only you can. That’s what will keep your customers coming back. That is the key to great content.

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