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If you are looking to get more out of your content marketing efforts, then you need to consider the question What makes good content?
This seems obvious. But many business owners suddenly find themselves transformed into content marketers overnight. They didn’t have time to make elaborate plans or take long courses on the subject.
So in this post we’ll offer some straightforward, actionable advice that you can use to make better content.
It doesn’t matter if people are finding your content on Google, seeing it shared on social media, or getting it delivered to their inbox.
Your readers have questions and your content should answer it for them.
This post, for example, is obviously a direct answer to a direct question. The reader wants to know what makes good content, so we are breaking it down into straightforward answers.
But your content doesn’t need a question in its title to answer questions for your reader.
Even the home page of a plumber’s website answers questions like these:
So whatever type of content you are developing, take some time to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What are the burning questions they need answered?
Some content you produce is evergreen. This means that it will remain helpful and relevant for years to come.
Other content is timely. It won’t be relevant in a year, a month, a week, or maybe even a few days.
Both types have their place. But both need to be up to date.
Yes, even evergreen content needs to be up to date, at least at the time of publishing. The principles you discuss may be timeless and universal. But that doesn’t give you free reign to cite data that’s a decade past its prime.
Do your due diligence when it comes to research. But also make a habit of revisiting old content that is still attracting attention. Check to see if your links are still live, your information is still accurate, and your references haven’t gone out of style.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Upgrade it.
In other words, if you want to create truly good content, find a way to make yours original. And we don’t just mean paraphrasing what everyone else has ever said on the matter.
Instead, try one or more of these methods to make your content better than the rest:
Fill in the gaps. Find the questions that other people aren’t answering and make your content answer them. Offer your readers everything the other guys have and more.
Improve the user experience. Is there a way to make your content interactive? Can you organize it in a more user-friendly way? What can you do so that readers have a better time with your stuff than what is already out there?
Add media. A simple (though not necessarily easy) way to stand out is to add a video, slideshow, infographic, or other sort of media production to your content. Don’t have the skills yourself? Check out what the freelancers at Legiit can do.
This applies equally to all types of written content, but we’ll focus on blog posts. They are a good standard, and if you can apply these concepts to blogs you can apply them to most other written mediums.
Keep paragraphs short and simple. You’re not writing an APA research paper. Your audience wants easy to digest ideas explained in plain language.
Keep your paragraphs, in general, from 1 to 4 lines long. And be mindful of how much space they take up on mobile devices.
Use headings and other text elements. Headings, bold text, bullets, and similar elements help your reader chunk information. They can find what they need quickly and absorb the stuff that matters most to them.
Be consistent. Notice what we did there? This item isn’t in bold even though the ones before it were. By switching to underlining, we failed to maintain consistency.
That probably threw you off a bit. Maybe even confused you. Good content meets reader expectations. Stay consistent with whatever norms you establish.
Yes, your content needs to be designed.
The importance is easy to grasp if you imagine something like an infographic or squeeze page. But design thinking should be applied to every type of content.
Design is simply the process of planning something so that it functions as best as it can.
For multimedia, this means things like ensuring the audio and video are synced, adding closed captions, and developing effective intros, outros, and transitions.
For a blog post, good design takes into account the elements of readability that we just covered.
But it also involves adding appropriate images in the right places, building a table of contents for long form guides, and adding anything else that helps improve the user experience, such as a collapsible FAQ or eye-catching call-to-action.
We mentioned earlier that answering questions is what makes good content. Well, your audience doesn’t just want generic advice or vague theories. They want actions to take.
This post provides you with several key things you can do right now to make your content better:
And so on.
So make your own content actionable too.
Find ways to turn theory into action for your readers. Give them practical, honest advice. Give them a way to solve their own problems.