We’ve all had it beat into our brain about how developing quality content is going to be your saving grace in the ever-changing world that is website optimization, and it’s true. Without quality content and establishing yourself as a voice in a community, you’re not going to get very far.

Most people are not going to listen to you if you don’t know what you’re talking about or babbling about what everyone else is talking about in 10,000 different articles. We want opinions, we want unique, we want an incentive to read your content. Basically, we want an experience – give it to us. Readers are selfish – they want to be fulfilled by your content. If they are not, they’ll find it somewhere else.

Great…”quality”…got it Patrick. Thanks for that. But how do you know if you have quality content? Even more, how do you know if your content sucks? There are a lot of tell tale signs and data that provide you with the answer to that question, and I want to break it down for you so that not only will you start seeing the fruits of your labor and knowledge, but so you can begin to build a strategy that sees you with actual long term success and have your visitors begging for more.

You’re Not Engaging

This is a broad statement, but it’s incredibly easy to break down if you know where to look. Let’s start simple:

  • Are people commenting?
  • Are people sharing your content?
  • Are people responding when you post in industry forums or threads?
  • Do you receive emails asking questions or complimenting the solutions you’re providing?
  • Are you responding to any of those interactions listed above?

If you answered “no” to any or all of the questions above, chances are, your content is lacking in areas and you could use some work. That’s fine, this is an exercise. One way you can remedy this; start asking your users questions:

  • What do you want to hear about from our site?
  • What do you enjoy reading outside of our website?
  • What do you find most useful about our blog or website?
  • Do you find our content shareable? Why? Why not?

See where am I going with all of this? You need to interact and you need the opinions of your visitors – without them and their decision to return to your site, you’re screaming in an empty room – no one is hearing you. Give yourself some direction.

Be Human

There has been a saying going around lately that reads, “Don’t write for search engines, write for users.” The sentiment here extends well beyond SERP performance and actually means what it says. People want emotion, they want humor, they want passion, they want interaction, and they want to digest information in an easy and fun way that sticks with them. People want people.

Visitors don’t want to read about your data in a way that reads like a textbook – they want to riff with the content and the person who wrote it, which leads to conversations, which leads to inspiration or education on either side. It’s a beautiful thing human interaction – when done right, you’ll be surprised what it can do. Make your content fun, easy to read or visualize, and leave room for conversation.

Pay Attention to Your Industry

When you start writing about a topic, think to yourself:

  • Is it relevant to the current state to the industry you are in?
  • Does it speak to what is current?
  • Does it provide insight to what the industry could be going forward?
  • Will it be a long term piece of content that sees new visitors utilizing it 6 months down the road?

If you are speaking to out of date information or nothing of substance, then visitors are going to move on. Remember, while not consciously doing so, people are selfish with their time and need to be grabbed at the moment of interest. They don’t have time to skim to find your point or read information they already know. No one wants that and no one will come back if that’s what you’re providing.

Are You Distributing Correctly?

One thing I hate is blindly syndicating content or just posting content in any forum or thread without actually taking the time to research your movement. Come on, don’t do that. If you are taking the time to write something, you should take the time to look where you’re posting, and what the conversations are like on that outlet.

I will be the first to push for social interactions through the right platforms. We have seen a great response on our social platforms (you can find us at Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook where we can keep the conversation going) and I highly suggest that if you are not currently utilizing your brand on your social media, you need to get up on that like now.

Conclusion

People make content and engagement a lot harder than it is. I don’t know if people are too busy, shy, don’t want to make the effort, or simply don’t know how to do either. You have to make time and you have to make the effort; if you cannot make those two things the foundation to your content strategy, then you’re sinking the ship before it has even set sail.