What's That Smell? How to Tell When Your Content StinksCategories: content strategy, content creation, writing advice
The web is full of bad content.
Who's to blame for this proliferation of pathetic prose? Well, it depends who you ask. Many people point to Google and say that their algorithm, which rewards frequently updated webpages, that's responsible for inspiring cheap "news" sites and content farms to produce pointless posts. This is partially true. That's why the search engine rolled out the Panda and Penguin updates to try to curb content spamming. But content farms aren't the only companies stinking up the Internet.
Chances are your company is contributing to the smell as well.
If you're using bad content to promote your company, services, or products, the time to change is now. Failure to adapt and improve your content strategy in our increasingly voted-on and curated world of social networking and online sharing will push your company further and further down the search engine results.
So, how can you tell if your content stinks? Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that question. Quality is subjective by definition.
With that being said, there are a number of warning signs that your content could use some freshening up.
1) Your visitors spend less than two minutes reading a post
Traffic tracking programs, like Google Analytics, are designed to help you monitor the amount of time visitors spend browsing your website. Generally, if visitors navigate away from your site within two minutes or less, it's because your content stinks.
2) Your posts take less than an hour to write
Good content takes time to research, draft, format, proof, and publish. If you're pumping out content in half an hour or less, you might want to reconsider your approach. The best bloggers, including the ones that work for Inklyo, spend anywhere from 2 to 10 hours crafting every post they create.
3) Your focus is primarily on SEO
The quickest way to write crappy content? Deliberately stuff it with keywords in an attempt to boost your search engine rankings. If this is what you believe "optimization" to be, you're going to have a hard time. The key to better SEO isn't keywords; it's creating content that people want to read and share. In short, it's creating content that's worth consuming.
The next time you're about to hit the "Publish" button on your blog, ask yourself the following question: "Would I spend time on a Saturday morning reading this post if I didn't know the creator?" If the answer is no, click "Cancel" and start again.
4) You have to force yourself to write/read
Of all the warning signs that your content stinks, this one is a big one. Most of the writers at Inklyo write between 1,000 and 5,000 words a day. They also make a point to read regularly throughout the week. Reading exposes you to different styles, stories, angles, and ideas.
5) There's no point to your posts
Does your content help your readers solve a problem? Does it pull at their heart strings or teach them something useful? Great content shouldn't just fill up space on your website; it should help your readers to achieve measurable results.
Creating quality content is hard work. It takes time, dedication, expertise, and yes, talent.