If you have sent out a few emails today, they are just a few of the approximately 294 billion that are sent each day. Added to that the 2 million blog posts that are published on the Internet each day and the many hours of new video that appear on sites such as YouTube each day, and it’s easy to see that there is a lot of content out there.
However, much of what we read online just isn’t that good. Most of us have at least a basic grasp of what makes good content; it should be interesting, useful and perhaps even amusing or entertaining. Having content that is readable and will attract potential customers is a must if you own a business or provide a service, and these five characteristics of good content are worth knowing about the next time you sit at your computer drafting an article, press release or email blast.
Of course, your reader needs to be able to understand what they are reading, and this is probably the most important attribute when it comes to creating good content. Sentence structure, grammar and spelling are all obviously important, but it’s also a must to pay attention to your use of terminology, technical words and jargon. Always keep in mind that you may understand the jargon, legalese or acronyms, but your reader may wonder what on earth you are talking about, and can soon lose interest.
Engaging with your audience is essential, whether you are standing on the stage giving a speech, or writing something. That all important emotional connection has to be cultivated in order to appeal to the reader and to make sure they are on the same page as you, so to speak. A relatively simple yet surprisingly effective way of engaging with the reader and enabling them to identify with you is to use ‘we,’ ‘I’ and other pronouns, rather than the much more anonymous references to ‘the company’ or ‘it’.
Not surprisingly, readers don’t like inconsistency in the piece they are reading, and more to the point, inconsistent or unreliable information can adversely affect the image or reputation of your company or product. It’s important to stand out in the crowded marketplace that is today’s Internet, and the reality is that you won’t be able to stand out and enjoy a positive reputation if your content is full of inconsistencies and simply can’t be trusted. Check your sources and make sure they are reliable, and check your content for accuracy, whether it’s a 20 page report, a couple of paragraphs in an email or a few lines of product description.
Plenty has been written about the importance of SEO, or search engine optimization. Of course, there is a lot of truth in the observation that if a potential customer can’t find your website, then they won’t be buying your service or product. It’s easy to boost your rankings in the search engines by using various SEO tricks, such as stuffing the keywords into your text. However, this can actually hurt you as it can make the text difficult to read, and can put off potential customers. A much better strategy is just to focus on using the keywords sparingly in places that actually make sense, and come up with content that is concise and easy to read.
If your text is clear, well written and easy to read it lends itself much more easily to being translated. And while having your content translated may just not have occurred to you, the growth in global trade over the last 10 years or so means that there is much more chance of your content being read in India, China or any number of other countries. The potential for growth is actually grater in these countries with emerging markets, than in those with mature and established economies.
You want to take advantage of any opportunity to promote or grow your business and to attract new customers. Although it may not seem like the most important part of promoting and marketing yourself, the content that you create and make available is one of the most important aspects of helping your business. Make sure that your content is easy to read, is interesting and relevant enough to capture the customer’s attention, and can effortlessly be translated into other languages. And of course, your customers, both current and potential, need to be able to easily find your company or service.