What is good content? Whether it is meant to inform, engage, or serve as a call to action, good content accomplishes what it sets out to do by drawing in an audience and keeping them until the end. Hopefully, it leaves them wanting to see more from your brand or business. While there might not be an official checklist for achieving the gold standard of good content, below are 5 points to keep in mind that can help you along the way.
Good Content Tells a Story
If you're trying to get to the bottom of how to write content that captivates, telling a story is a great place to start. Stories draw in an audience and invite them to imagine themselves in the protagonist’s shoes, forming personal connections. Stories can take on many different forms, but the goal of including a story in your content should be to connect with your audience. People are more likely to trust someone if they feel they know them.
When telling a story in your content, such as a personal anecdote, always remember to keep things relevant. There must be a purpose to including the story, and no one should have to dig through your words to find the point. These stories should also be short—good content should be lean. Someone clicked on your work because they wanted to know more about the headline, not your flowery prose.
While good content does not necessarily need to contain a story, it does need to establish a connection between the audience and the creator. Telling a story, whether it is an anecdote or how you have structured your content, is an efficient way to achieve that connection.
Write Content That Answers Questions
Consider how someone would stumble upon your content. What question are they looking to answer? What do they want to learn? It all begins with a search. Part of writing good content is understanding how and what people search.
HubSpot writes that with Google’s current algorithm, it is more important that your content answers the searcher’s intended question, rather than simply containing the searcher’s keywords.
When looking to understand the intent behind a keyword, type it into Google. Take note of your results. They may reveal that the keywords you had in mind don’t share the same intent you thought they would. The search may even reveal a blind spot that your content can fill or heavily searched questions relating to your topic that can give your content some weight.
Searching before committing to writing sets your content on a path towards an audience. Good content is informative. Always make sure that your content answers questions that are relevant to the searcher’s intent.
Craft a Snappy Headline
The internet is overflowing with content. Users won’t be in a rush to click on your headline if it’s boring and disengaging. Headlines serve as the first impression between the audience and your content and should be carefully crafted with purpose. After all, content is created to be consumed. No one will know how stellar your content is if they can’t even be bothered to click on the headline.
Headlines need to be specific, relevant, and accessible. They should be easy to read without overly complicated language or structure. You do not want to alienate an audience by writing a headline that is difficult to understand.
NPR suggests keeping the reader in mind by using descriptive reactive words or phrases. Keep your headlines straightforward and avoid making puns or jokes. Light-hearted or silly pieces often speak for themselves without the use of a joke in the headline; in most cases, the joke is unnecessary. Headlines for good content convey the tone and personality of the piece through its word choice.
The Power of Pictures and Videos
Picture and video have become so important to SEO that good content shouldn’t be without them. Consider how posts get shared on social media. Images and video are more likely to be shared among users than text. Hootsuite writes that the Facebook 2020 algorithm favors high-quality, original video, meaning that video will appear more often on users’ pages than other content, especially if it’s over 3 minutes long.
When writing good content, never forget the power of the picture, especially when finding or creating a relevant video is not possible. At a basic level, including images will keep your content from becoming visually stale blocks of text. While this isn’t always a problem on the page, it is straining on the screen. Images are engaging, and if creating original images, it is an opportunity to infuse style and brand into your content.
A 2019 study by Venngage found that nearly half of the content marketers surveyed claimed that visual content is very important to their marketing strategy, with 40% noting that original graphics performed the best, followed by video at 24%. Including images and video can skyrocket your work from a lost, buried text-post to engaging and shareable content.
Originality Goes a Long Way
When asking yourself what makes good content, ultimately, originality will make your content stand out from the rest. Reiterating the same points that have been written elsewhere becomes dry and stale. No one will want to spend more time with your content–no matter how well it is written or crafted–if it doesn’t tell them something new. They especially won’t share it with anyone if they don’t find it special.
Finding what makes your content unique requires some research. Take a look at competitors or similar work and decide what you feel the field is missing. Trust that your experience and unique combination of skills will inform how you approach content creation. Infusing your content with your unique perspective can give it an edge.