What is Good Content? A Working Definition and Some General Principles ~ Encyclopedia - Online Marketing With Google Yahoo MSN

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What is Good Content? A Working Definition and Some General Principles

This is quite an interesting question because many blogging experts have talked about the importance of great content and how it trumps other factors when it comes to growing one’s website.

I’m pretty sure you’ve all heard the adage ‘Content is King’ repeated so very often.

Good content is a necessary foundation for most successful blogs. High quality content makes it easier for someone to recommend it to friends or other potential readers. Content makes blog marketing a whole lot easier because it naturally supports the push or pull process involved in promoting a website.

Every successful blogger recommends the same thing: Create great content and learn how to market it. The whole crux of the matter lies with the notion of good content: What exactly is it? And if it’s so important, how do you create ‘good content’?

Let’s examine this idea of content quality in this article. For all its lauded benefits, I’ve not yet seen a working definition for it. Can we crack the content code and determine some general rules or guidelines for its development?

After some thought, I’ve made a list of three general principles on content quality, alongside a definition of what I consider to be good content.

Principle #1: Content Quality is Subjective

I’ve talked about content development in a previous article but I’ll say this again: Content quality is subjective because it is inevitably tied to the knowledge or experience of both the content creator and reader.

When someone feels that an article is excellent, it is not so much because of the content quality itself but rather, his/her own knowledge levels and receptivity to ideas. For someone more experienced, the same article might seem amateurish.

This subjectivity of content consumption is one of the main reasons why I think that content dissemination and distribution channels are sometimes more important than the actual content quality. The more visitors you can get to view your articles, the more they will begin to resonate with the right people and spread on their own.

Recognize that there are many uncontrollable variable factors at play here. Every person that reads your blog has his/her own built-in filters. Some are looking for a very specific solution while others want general overviews for beginners. Their overall receptivity is also influenced by what they already know about the topic.

Don’t feel bad when nobody comments on or links to an article you thought was quite excellent. Nor should you be disappointed when others criticize your content because their opinions only offer a selective assessment on the value of your work.

Principle #2: Content Quality is Comparatively Determined

Apart from content relativity, the value of an article is also comparatively determined. Your article will inevitably be juxtaposed with others on the same topic. The strength of another article will make yours less attractive as a citation source, unless you offer something distinctly different and unique.

Similarly, the weakness of other articles will make your content a more attractive and valuable resource. There is also a contextual determinism when it comes to advice given by experts. The strategies they recommend are often hypothetical or observations based on specific blogs in specific niches/situations.

These techniques and advice can sometimes be unsuitable for your blog niche, unless you learn how to implement them in a way which takes into account your audience expectations and the flow of information within your industry.

For some niches like entertainment/celebrity gossip, there is far more benefit in providing news reportage through short blog posts, than there is writing baits to attract social media audiences. This is because social media traffic is quite easily dwarfed by the massive number of search engine visitors.

Principle #3: There Are Guidelines to Determine Content Quality

Even though content quality is subjective and comparatively determined, one can still create content that is perceived to be of high quality. One way to do so is to study the popular articles of other bloggers, especially the ones in the same niche. These articles provide one with a rough measure of possible content popularity.

In my opinion, good content usually has the following characteristics:

  1. Thought-provoking. The article should present new ideas or offer a critical and new look at ideas or assumptions commonly held by others.
  2. Highly entertaining. An entertaining piece of content can come not only in the form of written text but videos or pictures. Humor is especially powerful when applied on current events or industry happenings.
  3. Important News. Breaking news are considered important because changes usually impact most people in the same industry or niche. Be the first to cover and explain news and people will naturally talk about your blog.
  4. Comprehensive. If your article is comprehensive enough, it may outshine others on the same topic. Bloggers love referencing articles which are comprehensive because it gives their readers a good starting point.
  5. Well Researched. Well researched articles with multiple links to related discussion on this topic are especially valuable because it allows you to insert yourself within an ongoing conversation in the blogosphere. Extensive research also denotes value because this signifies an investment of time.
  6. Unique. The less you repeat what other bloggers say, the more you’ll stand out. If your article examines a topic that’s rarely breached, it is likely that you’ll be regarded as an authority within the field as more people write about it.

Creating a Goal-Oriented Definition of ‘Good Content’

Content is consumed by users in many ways and it is difficult to measure how they value your articles, apart from the usual citation links, comments or emails. Instead of defining ‘good content’ according to reader feedback, why not define it according to the content creator’s perspective?

When we talk about ‘good content’ consider how it impacts your blog and brand. Here’s a working definition: Good content refers to content which succeeds in achieving the objectives that the content creator has set for it.

For example, if you want to network with others in the same niche, a good piece of content should link out and reference as many bloggers as possible. If you are a linkbaiter purely looking to get some incoming links for a webpage, good content would be content which achieves that purpose of acquiring links.

Successful content is no longer measured by the opinions of yourself or your audience but rather, to what extend did it fulfill end goals.

Content determined by purpose is strategic. It serves an objective and strives to achieve a specific result. Before you write a blog post, you should clearly examine your intentions. What exactly do you want to achieve with this specific article? Each blog post must have a defined purpose. Frame the content to suit that specific goal.

And then after the post is published, promote it in a way which accentuates that goal. For instance, if you’re purely looking for opinions, send it to some friends via StumbleUpon or email and get them to let you know what they think about it.

If you’re out for some heavy social media traffic, push it out to some influencers and request they disseminate it to the appropriate channel. After the marketing process is finished, look at your post and record its results. How many links did you get? How many people commented on it? Did you manage to get it cited by a popular blogger?

These results will give you a rough indication of ‘good content’, i.e. content with a track record of achieving objectives. This goal orientated approach to content development may sound a little mechanical but I think its a fairly straightforward method to assuage the quality of your work.

Source: http://www.doshdosh.com/what-is-good-content/

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