Congratulations! You’ve launched your new website. Nothing crashed or exploded. There was applause and high-fives all around (hoorah!) when everything went online. All the hard work that went into crafting a polished, professional design has finally paid off.
But why aren’t the masses showing up in droves?
What we’ve seen, time and time again, is that folks get so caught up in building a website – what features will it have? What technology will we use? what does so-and-so think about X? – that they forget about the important stuff that comes after a site has been launched.
Why should I visit your site?
This question needs to be answered first. The answer(s) you come up with will lay the foundation for the content you’ll use to draw people to your site.
Consider producing content that falls into one of the following categories:
1. Instructional. Show me how to do something.
If you’re producing original content (something that you’ve researched yourself), this is a great opportunity to put your knowledge and skills on display. Additionally, if you’re creating instructional content related to products you sell or services you provide, there’s a good chance that the readers of this content could be potential leads. Visitors care about this kind of content because you’re helping them solve a problem and complete a task.
Need some inspiration? Check out these links:
– Tips for Writing Good Documentation
– How To Write Guides for Busy, Grouchy People
– How To Write an Instructional Outline
2. Educational. Help me understand something I don’t know.
If Instructional content is the how, then Educational content is the why.
Educational content is very similar to instructional content, but there’s a difference. Instructional content helps the reader complete a task. Educational content, on the other hand, introduces new topics and goes into more detail.
Different people learn in different ways, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when creating Educational content. Visitors care about Educational content when the information can be used to their advantage (e.g. explaining an advanced subject that the reader needs to understand for their career).
Here are some other resources worth checking out:
– Incorporating Learning Styles into your Teaching Strategy
– Simplifying Educational Digital Content
– Using Video to Reinvent Education
3. Tell a story that appeals to the emotions: humour, fear, excitement. Make me care.
Storytelling is powerful. It’s ingrained in the history and culture of civilizations from around the world. Visitors care about stories that make an impression (does it make me laugh? Does it make me think?) or stories that they can identify with (does it remind me of my own experiences?).
Some great tips for telling stories:
– The Four Elements of Effective Storytelling
– How To Tell a Story (TED Playlist)
4. Provide commentary. What are your thoughts about X?
Opinions. We all have them. Can you articulate your opinion in a useful or entertaining way? When deciding how to spend their time or money, folks turn to the Internet to see what others have to say. Social proof is a powerful thing, and if you can carve out a niche for yourself by providing consistent commentary on different topics, all the better.
5. Make something interesting. Is it neat? Unique? Insightful? Is it worth sharing?
Interesting content is entirely subjective, but it’s a great way to target like-minded people. For example: if you present something that you find interesting to a room full of strangers, and a fraction of them also think that what you’re sharing is interesting, you’ve successfully created some common ground with them. Interesting content is more likely to get passed around.
– How Boring Industries Can Create Interesting Content
– Write Interesting Content for a Boring Topic
– How To Make Your Content Interesting and Useful
Don’t limit yourself to the written word.
Mix it up – experiment with different types of media! Consider:
Images are perfect for sharing! They’re quick to download, don’t require a lot of heavy reading, and can be easily passed around.
– SEO Guide to Creating Viral Linkbait & Infographics
– 10 Tools for Creating Infographics & Visualizations
– Sketchnotes! A great, creative way to share ideas.
Audio & Video.
Audio & video are robust platforms that you should really be using. Because of the slight learning curve, there’s less competition in video than there is in plain ol’ text. Video doesn’t mean you have to get your face on camera, either – screencasts and narrated PowerPoint presentations are good alternatives.
– 10 Steps to Successful Video Blogging
– Screencasting Tips & Best Practices
– Turn Your Presentation Into A Video (PowerPoint 2010)
Finally, for every piece of content you publish, ask yourself: Is this something that I’m proud of? If you can’t endorse the stuff you’re creating, it’s not worth publishing.
Remember: Time is scarce. Content isn’t. There are a limited number of hours in the day, and with the amount of content on the web growing exponentially each year, you’ll need to make a compelling case for an individual to visit your site instead of someone else’s. Keep at it. Don’t give up! As you produce more and more content, you’ll start to develop a style and personality all your own. Experiment with different formats and find what works for you.
– Attracting traffic starts with good content.
– Good content answers the question: Why should I visit your site?
– There are five reliable types of content: Instructional (walk through the steps); Educational (teach something new); Stories (make an impression or hit close to home); Commentary (share opinions or reviews); and Interesting (subjective, but more likely to get passed around).
In my next post, we’ll look at the tools you use to promote your content and pull in traffic.