Content: Website Fuel
Content is everything... The number of visitors/members a website has is directly proportional to the quality of its content.
Continuously evolving content that attracts, keeps, grows and encourages participation of its visitors is what determines the lifespan of a website.
Website content is electronic and can be audio, video, images or text. Napster its legal hassles notwithstanding was a great example of audio content (access to) creating a massive community.
So what are the factors that make for great content?
In random order, SOME of them are: Factual information, flair, consistent high standards, freshness, time slots, originality, visibility, viral nature, subject specialization, easy accessibility and free/value for money - essentials that should feature in any check list. Do not forget to include things that are typical to your area of specialization - where you are the expert. Most of these are self-explanatory, but lets explore them anyway.
If your website deals with news, science, technology or for that matter any subject that is not creative in nature, factual information is vital to ensure credibility. Verify your sources and deal with only ones that are segment leaders.
Flair has to do with the creative side of things. Whether its the design or the style of writing, this is something that takes the website visitor to that sacred ground- that is 'Wow, this rocks. Let me add it to my favorites list now'.
Consistent high standards:
People like the predictable. It's comfortable when you know what to expect. 'What to expect' is the common underlying theme of all advertising campaigns. So if your 'what to expect' value is high in your website visitors mind as they leave, he/she will most probably turn into a repeat visitor.
How can you make your content interesting and different? Depart from the obvious and find that unique angle that only you will, if you study your subject long enough. This will allow you to present a new perspective/offering and make your website very special.
Regarding the frequency that you must update your site to keep it fresh -you will have to observe your site visitors. Surfers have a pattern. They visit some sites regularly and some once in a way. What does your target audience do? On an average how often do they come back to your site? Why? What do they do there? (A basic visitor tracking system will help here) If you know that - then you know how fresh your content has to be- how often it has to be updated.
Is your website content the type that can capture a time slot in the mind/day of a person? Newspapers do it everyday. Within the paper your favorite cartoon has a smaller time slot but it still has you for that brief period of time. Can your content achieve this?
According to research there is nothing -be it a concept or an artistic rendition that is 100% original. Man is a reactive being and an improviser by nature; therefore do not fret if you cannot seem to get too original. However if you bring a fresh perspective/offering to whatever you write/give - that should be fine.
Can you use your content to generate more site visitors? Yes you can. Big budgets guarantee visibility. Big budgets however are not usually available to most of us -so we have to work around it. If you cannot be seen everywhere at least try to be seen where it matters. On the Internet that will mean being seen on other successful high traffic websites in your area of specialization. Why should your site get a link or mention on theirs? What can you contribute that they would like? A well-written article on a subject that you are an authority on, is usually welcomed and can really work to your advantage in terms of visibility and traffic. Imagine you become a regular contributor at this site...
People like to be the bearer of good tidings and anything that is viral in nature brings about this inherent trait - this compelling urge in people to share/pass it on -immediately. Does your website content have these qualities? A great example of the viral nature of a service has to be Hotmail - a service that was simply a 'must have' and also absolutely free.
Straightforward - people want the best advice/authentic information - straight from the horse's mouth. What's your area of specialization? Is this being highlighted or diluted on your site?
Easy accessibility (of information):
This is mostly about organizing elements. Do you ever consciously look for signages (the way finder kind) on the street? (If you have to - then there is a problem) They are there - at the just the right places - with just the right colors - in just the right sizes - so that you can make navigational decisions based on what you see - without breaking your thought processes and momentum. The same applies to your website - beginning with the links that lead to your site and then with the links within your site -that tell the visitor where to go -based on what he/she is looking for. Are these links where they ought to be?
Free or value for money:
Free is to website traffic what nectar is to bees. A growing collection of free giveaways can over time help you build a decent sized membership. If you cannot generate free content then there are many sites that offer free stuff which you can redistribute from your site in return for a link to theirs. Identify material that will complement the content on your site before you include it.
On the other hand if you have taken care of the above points when generating your content, it can in all probability be sold as it will be value for money. So why not give it a shot.
Hope you find this useful. All the best!