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20 May 2010

Content is Like a Box of Chocolates

Content is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. When you really wanted the nougat and instead ended up with the raspberry cream, did you look around to make sure no one was watching, spit it out and go for another one? You did, didn’t you? This is why content has to be taken seriously. If a visitor doesn’t like your content, they will quickly move on to another site that better suits their taste.

Box of ChocolatesFirst you must know who your users are. Then your number one goal, in regards to content, should be to gain your users trust. Your site needs to be their proverbial couch that they can lay down on, get comfortable, have their needs taken care of and receive guidance and advice.
In his book “101 Content Marketing Tips”, Byron White defines content as: “Anything included on a website that aims to attract and engage readers.  Content refers to text, pictures, videos, sound, animation, etc.” Content can actually be provided to visitors in three different ways:
1. Content on Your Website
You may think you have control over your site, but you don’t. Your users have their hand on the stick and they can either make you fly or send you into a nosedive. So keep them happy and engaged. Provide content that tells a story about how your products or services can solve their problems.
•           Keep the content short; paragraphs should be 3-5 sentences long.
•           The most important elements should be above the fold on the page.
•           Design the layout so the content can be skimmed quickly.
•           Use bullet points, bold type, highlights and italics.
•           Quality over quantity is key; content should be simple and easy to understand.
2. Content to Print and Take Away
During the content development process, be sure to consider downloadable documents that users can print from your site and take with them. A few ideas are: User Manuals, Instruction Guides, Check Lists, Product Tips, Resource Lists, and Best Practice Guides.
Imagine your User Manual sitting on someone’s kitchen counter, desk or coffee table. The only way it’s going to get there, instead of the recycle bin, is if it’s indeed helpful and entertaining. A dose of humor is a must if you want the manual to be perused and shared over and over.
3. Content Placed on Article Sites
Articles are a great way to take technical or complex subject matter and make it more comprehensible while at the same time being entertaining. Article Marketing is a great way to increase your credibility, which helps to meet your goal of gaining trust. A researched and well-written article that is placed on one of the popular articles sites, such as Ezine or Go Articles, can position you as an expert in your industry.
Clear and concise content on your website that is reviewed and updated on a regular basis is the answer to keeping your visitors satisfied and returning time and time again. The search engines may also reward you with great placement for your efforts. Remember, even if garbage content gets indexed, it may not pass through the filters that will get it ranked well in the search results. Just think of how great it will be when your visitors find that perfect nougat they’ve been longing for.
Do you have any other content ideas to share with our readers? Add them in the comments below.