Is there a formula for good content?

14Nov10

Infographics. Video content. Punchy headlines. Outreach. Social Media. Going viral.

How can you create content that guarantees success? Is there a formula that will inspire people to link back to you, in turn increasing your credibility and improving your search rankings?

I’ve been watching the web closely for the last 3 years, and every day, I become more confident that, aside from ‘kittens’, there is no guaranteed way to draw people to your content. Either you will capture someone’s imagination, or you won’t.

I have sat in a lot of meetings while ideas are batted around about how we can make the next piece of content ‘go viral’. How many infographics can we stick in there (because *everyone* loves infographics) and how many inbound links can we get. Every time I sit in one of these meetings, my heart sinks a little bit.

And that’s not because I don’t believe these conversations should be had. There’s no point creating content if it’s not going to be unique, or the best that it can be. But is this the right angle to approach content from?

The number crunchers in the company will love this approach. You can measure the success of a piece of content by measuring page views, length of time on the page, number of inbound links, even the number of comments. But when the number crunchers are in charge of the content, problems can start to emerge.

Building good content takes time. It takes trial and error. You can have a search strategy in place, which is great, but you need to fill that frame with content people want to read. Or find useful. Or funny. Or all of the above. You need to research your audience, find out what THEY want. Build up a small community to start, get them engaged and responding to you and your brand.

Good content + pretty infographics does not = a measurably ‘successful’ page. It takes a lot of time, work and most importantly, action. The biggest and most regular mistake I’ve seen is people assuming that they know what their audience wants.

So why don’t we just ask them? The rest is just conjecture.

Infographic

I made my own infographic!

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