"Content is king." You've all heard the mantra by now. It's a simple enough concept, really - the idea that if you create something awesome enough, your site's naturally going to start attracting a following. Unfortunately, it's a little bit more complicated in practice.
See, it isn't enough to simply sit down and hammer out a few articles. Even if your writing's incredibly entertaining to read, words can only do so much. What you need to do is enrich your content - do a bit of extra work to make it more engrossing and valuable to anyone who encounters it.
That's what we're here to talk about today. Here are five ways you can enrich both your website and the content you publish to it. Let's get started.
Include Some Data - But Make Sure It's Credible And Supports Your Points
My first piece of advice comes courtesy of Problogger - a fantastic site for any content creator, freelance or otherwise.
"Blog posts, whitepapers, and other shareable content rely on supporting data - not because people just love a good color-coded pie chart, but because numbers give stories shape," reads the piece. "They add scale. They provide perspective. They quantify that something meaningful is happening."
In other words, if you're going to write a post, seek out statistics that support your arguments. Don't just say people are spending more time on their smartphones - cite a study that proves they are. Statistics - properly researched and cited ones - will give your posts significantly more weight and credibility.
Create Content To Be Dynamic Rather Than Static
Another important concept that'll help you create better content involves something known as semantic enrichment. Instead of looking at the articles you post as "one and done," you should view them as hubs that you can regularly revisit, update, and link back to. Yeah, it's a little more work - but the payoff is definitely worth the effort. I look at the comedy site Cracked.com as one of the best examples of this concept in practice.
The staff of that site frequently revisit their best, most popular articles - all of which are created so as not to be terribly time sensitive - through their social media channels. They also regularly link back to their posts, where relevant. As a result, pages that might otherwise vanish into the archives of the site receive regular influxes of traffic, serving both to increase revenue for the site and to draw in a steady stream of readers, both new and old.
Mind you, not every post you write can be dynamic in such a fashion - but make sure that, if you're writing a blog, you've at least a few that are.
Spice Up Your Website Copy
Our next tip comes to us from Hub's Jonathan Rick, who advises a number of small, semantic tweaks your website copy - from error messages to subscription blurbs to the header on the comments section. This will, he explains, humanize your website. What that means is that your readers will forge a deeper connection, both with your brand and with the content you produce.
Consider the following two messages:
"404 Error. Page not found."
"404. Oops. We lost that page. Maybe Mel renamed it. Maybe Brandon moved it. Maybe Davis stayed up too late drinking coffee and deleted it. If you really need to, try a Search at the top right. If you still can't find it, shoot us an email."
The top is a generic error message. The bottom is taken from Swim Swam, one of the examples given in Rick's Slideshare presentation. Taking into account that the second example includes links to the author profile of each person mentioned, and a link to the site's contact page, which do you think makes for a better user experience?
I think you already know the answer to that.
Inject Some Rich Media
As you likely know already, content should never be longer than it absolutely has to be. People these days, they're kind of impatient - if a piece drags on too much, they tend to get bored and navigate elsewhere. You definitely don't want that.
"In an era when the average person skims content for the juiciest and most useful bits, companies have to say more with less and be very direct with content," explains Scoop.it's Drew Hendricks. "Your web-using customer base prefers websites that specifically limit content length to six-second videos or 140-character posts, so your content should achieve brevity."
What about if you've a lot to say, though? What can you do to keep people interested when your articles run for more than five hundred words? Don't worry - Hendricks has some advice for just such a situation.
Just add some rich media to your posts. Spice a long piece up with an infographic summing up the statistics, toss in some high-quality images, or make use of a video or two. Break the massive wall of text you've cobbled together up into headings and subheadings, and differentiate segments from one another with photos.
Treat your posts less as literature and more as presentation pieces - you'll be rewarded for your efforts.
Make It Interactive
Last, but certainly not least...brainstorm a few ways your users can interact with the content you publish. I'm talking beyond social sharing buttons and the comments section - that's the bare minimum of what you can do. Actively encourage readers to drop you a line if they've something to say about what you've written. Give people the ability to tag photos, sound-bytes, and video you post with their commentary - look at Polygon or Soundcloud for an example of this in practice.
What you're aiming for here is to make people feel less like passive observers and more like active members of a community - your community.
Anyway, that's pretty much it - a few ways you can make your website a richer, more complete experience for the reader. Got anything to add? Drop us a line in our own comment section below.