How to Get Your Content Read, Part III: So What?

Before publishing content on your website, you should be asking yourself a very basic question---"So what?" In other words, what value does this bit of content add to your website?

Will prospects find it interesting and useful, or is it simply filler? To make your content more attractive to your target audience, and to attract those coveted inbound links, your writing has to answer the "So what?" question, and your answer has to make sense for your audience.

That's the hardest part about writing great content---it has to be useful and compelling for it to draw traffic to your website.

Answering the "So What?" Question

Before sitting down to write content for your website, be sure to answer the "So what?" question first. It will save you time in the long run.

Use the following tips if you're having trouble finding a topic to write about that your visitors will find useful and relevant.

Tip #1: Know Your Audience

I know we say this a lot, but you have to think about your audience when you're writing content for your website. You have to know who they are, what they look like, what they care about, what they don't care about - every detail matters.

Once you know your audience and have a solid image of them in your head, you can write your content as if they're sitting right in front of you, listening to your every word.

If they get up and leave the room before you've finished reading the first paragraph, you need to make the content more compelling.

Tip #2: Listen to Customer Questions

One of the easiest ways to find topics for your website that matter to your customers is by listening to their questions.

Do you hear the same question again and again? Write it down. Keep a list of frequently asked questions and use that list to create content that answers those questions completely.

For example, let's say you sell used Subaru cars for a living, and you maintain a blog on your website that you want to use to attract prospects. And say you hear this question often on the lot: "What is the best Subaru for serious off-roading?"

The answer to this question would work perfectly for a blog post because, chances are, prospects are searching for the answer to this question online too. Plus, you've got a great title---What is the best Subaru for serious off-roading? or The Best Subaru for Off-roading. Your customer just did the work for you.

Tip #3: Research Your Topic

Of course, the previous tip is useless if you don't know the answer to a customer's question. But don't let that stop you from creating content to address these questions. The time you put in researching your topic will benefit you as much as your prospects.

Researching the answers to common questions and then composing content that answers those questions in a logical, well-thought-out way gives you the opportunity to expand your knowledge of the industry.

Never look at researching and writing about your industry as tedious; these exercises in learning and communicating will only make you a stronger proponent for your industry.

Tip #4: Get the Facts

While researching your chosen topic, make note of any facts you find that help support your arguments. Returning to the example above, if you think older Subaru GL wagons make the best off-roading vehicles, back up that statement with technical info about the models.

For example, you could say: "Older Subaru GL wagons have low range gear sets and locking rear and center differentials, making them an effective model for snow and mud." That sounds a lot better than: "I think older Subaru GL wagons are great for off-roading. My cousin, Bobby, loves 'em, and he's an off-roading nut!"

Tip #5: Don't Waste Your Audience's Time

This tip relates to an earlier post in this series on conciseness. Internet users have an extremely short attention span due to the enormous amounts of content on the Web.

If you've answered the "So what?" question before writing your content, make sure you let your audience know the answer right away, especially in cases when the value of your content is not immediately apparent.

How to Gauge Content Success

Once you've answered the "So what?" question and published your content on the internet, you'll want to gauge your audience's reaction to what you've written.

One way to gauge the success of your content is by monitoring the links you have posted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Are your fans and followers commenting on your links and sharing them with their friends? If your answer is yes, you've created a useful piece of content. If not, you'll just have to learn from your mistakes and keep trying to connect with your audience.

There are also a number of useful tools out there that can monitor how many people are viewing your posts and how long they're staying on the page. If you'd like help setting something like this up, contact Avelient and we'll give you a hand.

Written by Jackson Armstrong on September 8th, 2011

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