The entire web is made up of content. There are other elements too of course, links and shopping carts and videos and audio files and yada yada yada. But its the content that gets you there, and its the content that makes you take action (watch, listen, buy).
It might be an email from a friend, a blog post that you read or something that was recommended on your favorite discussion forum. It could have been an article or a search result at Google or Yahoo. But its all content, linking to more content.
Wikipedia defines content as:
Information and experiences created by individuals, institutions and technology to benefit audiences in contexts that they value.
Dictionary.com defines content as:
something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts
But Internet Marketers define content as text...
If you have an online business, then you know just how important content is to your overall marketing strategy. There are literally hundreds of guides written on the topic covering a wide range of angles: copywriting, article marketing, syndication, self-publishing, etc etc etc.
But most of these deal with what to do with your content once you write it. Not what you should do if you are staring at a blank piece of paper, or sitting in front of your computer staring at a blank document. If you stare at it long enough it just might transform into a beautifully written masterpiece that funnels traffic into your website. But if it doesnt, read on...
There are two main things that every piece of content you write should contain: value and action. No matter what format you are writing in, or who you are writing to, what you write should be valuable to your reader. It should also lead them to the next step, or include a "call to action".
Let's use this blog post as an example. I am sitting in front of my computer right now*, typing out an article titled "Writing Content"... that is, ironically, content I am writing for my blog. It started as an idea and a blank document.
The idea actually came to me when I sat down to publish my newsletter for the week. As I was drafting out the details for that mailing, it occurred to me that writing is probably one of the most difficult tasks most of us face. In fact, not only do I get 'the block' sometimes, but its a hot topic at my forum as well.
Idea was born, so I began to pen this article that you are now reading. It is valuable to you because you want to make money (or make more money) online and you know that "Content is King!" (rah!). You are (still) reading this article, relating to what I am saying, and learning both by this example and the tips shared.
I'll get back to this example in a minute...
Let's take a look at 4 examples of content that you can use to drive traffic to websites and gain exposure online:
A great example of content that provides value and ends with a specific call-to-action is this article by Karon Thackston: How to Write Motivational Copy That Sells. The ideal reader that would find this article valuable, would also be the target market for Karon's SEO Copywriting Course. The call to action at the end states:
Which words make *your* customers buy? Let Karon show you. Learn to write strategically created copy that hits a nerve and makes the sale. Boost your search engine rankings, too! Learn more here
One example of using blog posts to drive traffic to related sites you own is this recent post of mine: Domain Name Q&A which simply links back to individual threads at my discussion forum. Another example is this post: Making The Leap: From Employee to Entrepreneur, where I end the blog post by inviting them to join my discussion forum:
If you would like my help, and the help of others like me, join us on the eBiz Discussion Forum where you can get advice about business - and get your questions answered - 7 days a week. It’s free to register, and we’d be happy to share resources and give you the answers you need to make the next move!
Writing content in discussion forums, specifically for the purpose of driving traffic to your site, can be tricky. You want to use forums more for gaining exposure than direct promotion, obviously, or you will be considered a "spammer" and the strategy will backfire on you.
But if you do provide quality tips and resources at discussion forums in your niche, it will indirectly interest the forum members (and lurkers!) in your Signature and/or Profile.
A bad example of a forum post would be: "Yes, and you can find the answer to that on my website at tryingtopromotemysite.com. A good example is this post at my own forum by Bonnie Lowe: Getting topic ideas for your newsletter. In this post, Bonnie responds to a question with some very valuable tips - ie great content. At the end of her post is a compelling Signature that links to even more great tips from Bonnie!
- Yahoo! Answers
Yahoo! Answers is a site to bookmark. Its fun to ask questions and get feedback from others. But you can also answer questions, and leave a resource link. Overall it is a very active site and great for general market research.
Here is a good example - Y!Q: We are moving to Texas and would like to buy a house. If you have a Texas or Real Estate informational website, and you can answer this ladies question, then you can write up a response (ie quality content) and use a direct link to more info as the resource link.
These are merely examples of how valuable content is to you as a site owner or online professional. If you want to drive traffic to your website, or gain exposure in your niche, publishing content in various places (in addition to your own website) is the best known strategy. Not only does it give you quality inbound links - which is great for your search engine rankings - but it gives you positive exposure to your target market as well.
This week's issue of SSWT (Self-Starters Weekly Tips) is titled 7 Quick Ideas for Writing GOOD Content! It will include 7 quick-tips for coming up with something to write about, and finding quality topic-starters that will kick-start your session when you sit down to write quality, unique content.
If you arent already an SSWT Subscriber, be sure to get on the list for these tips! This week's issue is going out this evening 😉 (Note: that issue is now archived online, which you can find at the link above - or here)
In closing, we'll go back to this blog post being an example of unique content that provides value and includes a call to action...
The idea for the topic came to me when I was writing content for my own readers. So if you are a pet owner and you own a pet-related website, look at your own everyday 'pet experiences' for content ideas! If you are a mechanic by trade and own a do-it-yourself type site, ideas for content can be found in your own garage. etc.
To turn my idea into an article I started with some introductory paragraphs about content and how we use it, and included resources and examples. Since I already knew that my next issue of SSWT would be on a related topic, I used that as my "call to action" (ie: "be sure to get on the list for these tips!").
You can lead into any number of things with your content: a page on your site, a related product that you are recommending as an affiliate, one of your own products, Adsense blocks etc. The point is that if your reader enjoys what you have to say on a topic, let them know where they can go next... for more!
*I was actually out back in the hammock swing, sunning a bit on this unusually warm Spring day. But that's one of my own personal "secrets" for inspiration when it comes to writing content or outlining a new article: a change of scenery or environment 😉