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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: 42 ( [1] 2 > >     
Content Is King
A metaphysical musing on what constitutes quality content.
DawnArdent




msg:3070641
 5:53 pm on Sep 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Content Is King

Everyone agrees that content is king, but what exactly constitutes good content? The webmaster who figures it out is a successful one.

It is essential to recognize that all content is a form of communication, and the quality of content depends not only on what is communicated and how, but also on whom it is communicated to.

A webmaster that creates written content is directly engaged in a one-way communication with his or her audience, but even the webmaster who maintains a forum meta-communicates by providing the context and backbone of other communications.

Content is created on many levels:

  • Letters form meaningful words.
  • Words form meaningful sentences.
  • Sentences form meaningful written content.
  • Pixels form images to enhance comprehension beyond the linear.
  • Page layout eases the absorption of information.
  • Site layout enables to clarify the flow of awareness.
  • Advertisements and resources connect and sustain.


Attention to minute details and the successful integration of these details into a unified whole so as to provide the clearest and most rewarding communication results in a 'grok' experience for the visitor.

While from the webmaster's low-level perspective content and layout should be separated, from the visitor's high-level perspective content and layout should be integrated. Thus, a good webmaster learns to destroy and rebuild content so as to achieve a greater clarity of flow of awareness.

When the layout, sales pitch, or advertisement become extensions of the actual content (or even interchangeable with it), a fine balance is achieved.


Content is not a static thing; it changes with whoever observes it. Less is more - a visitor's time is precious. Greater contrast can provide greater focus on what is important for the respected visitor.

The webmaster's job is not the creation and management of webpages, but the guiding and management of awareness. Let me repeat it one more time because I think it's important: The webmaster's job is to guide awareness!


If you weave the attention of others with respect and in a way as to fulfill their needs, you have created content that is king.

 

Harry




msg:3070860
 1:31 am on Sep 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, not to sound negative, but before someone comes and says how nice and insightful your post is, I'd like to ask, what concrete advice you have for people to improve contents?

Stefan




msg:3070887
 2:12 am on Sep 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Everyone agrees that content is king, but what exactly constitutes good content?

It's uniqueness. Much of the internet is pure dross, with cookie cutter affiliates, lyric sites, pseudo-directories, MFA's, whatever, making up 95% of it. The sites that naturally rise to the top are not dross, they're supplying the best information in their particular field.

Content isn't something that can be pumped out of an SEO scheme, it's the real deal, which visitors will spot immediately when they first visit the website. It's the sort of thing that will inevitably cause the site to be seen as an authority (and attract unsolicited inbound links), because that's what it is.

[In my perhaps overly-optimistic opinion, etc.]

Quadrille




msg:3070925
 3:11 am on Sep 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I pretty much agree - for visitors, content should be interesting and / or useful; for visitors and for search engines, content should ideally be unique.

Sounds horribly simple ... but I suspect it is :)

DawnArdent




msg:3072396
 4:10 pm on Sep 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd like to ask, what concrete advice you have for people to improve contents?

Know what people want to hear and present it to them (if it something you want to tell); preferably before they even know what it is they want.

As a visitor and information addict, I ask that whatever you write/create/offer, do it with clarity so I see you respect my time and I can absorb the information with speed.

Sorry if it isn't concrete enough. >_<

mrhazelj




msg:3072685
 8:39 pm on Sep 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think there are many atributes for quality content. for exmaple, i have submitted my articles to a few popular article directories. most of my articles are downloaded on an average of five times per article per directory if it's a good directory. so i measure by how much other people find my content useful via how many people download each article. and use them on there sites, you know, viral marketing.

VegasRook




msg:3074211
 11:57 pm on Sep 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Web writing is basically journalism in a new package. Most of what you see people touting as the "right" way to write for the web is from age-old journalism practices.

Here's a quick list of newbie journalism tips to ponder:

1. Write in clear and concise sentences.
2. Nouns and Verbs, nouns and verbs, nouns and verbs.
3. Write the most important information first.
4. Write great headlines and better leads.
5. Write the least important information last.

econman




msg:3074816
 12:42 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

The journalism analogy works for most information-providing websites. Direct mail catalogs work as a good analogy for many ecommerce sites.

There are also important differences. For instance, the optimal length paragraph on the web is a little shorter than what would be optimal for a journalist working on a newspaper or magazine, and a lot shorter than would be optimal for a non-fiction book.

VegasRook




msg:3075191
 6:18 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)


For instance, the optimal length paragraph on the web is a little shorter than what would be optimal for a journalist working on a newspaper or magazine.

Not really. Magazine, yes. Newspaper not so much. Many stories from journalists are filled with 2-3 sentence paragraphs. I guess you could write all one sentence paragraphs for the web, but I wouldn't. :D

Magazine writing is a bit different--although many of the same concepts apply.

buckworks




msg:3075216
 6:36 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)


Quality content is accurate.
Quality content is balanced.
Quality content is fair.

Quality content has the courage to speak truth that people might prefer not to hear.

iblaine




msg:3075233
 6:52 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Good content should create value to the user.

hannamyluv




msg:3075256
 7:04 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I recently wrote an article for another website as a guest writer. I broke the article up according to good internet presentation. Lots of line break, lists and bold.

Much to my amusment, the editor of the site then restructed my article in traditional off-line format with traditional paragraphs and structure. She had been remarking just earlier how easy it was to read the things on my site but I guess failed to see why.

The best quality content in the world is lost to bad formatting. This is a back lit screen and people don't have the time to print what you write, no matter how good it is. Keep it in mind when writing for the internet.

Murdoch




msg:3075258
 7:12 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Age

Uncluttered by code

and yes, uniqueness helps (but is not necessarily required)

weeks




msg:3075318
 8:00 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Your content should be:
-Smart
-Useful
-Relevant
-Credible

For example, take a look at this website you are on right now. Does it hit these four points?

designaweb




msg:3075432
 9:34 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's uniqueness. Much of the internet is pure dross, with cookie cutter affiliates, lyric sites, pseudo-directories, MFA's, whatever, making up 95% of it. The sites that naturally rise to the top are not dross, they're supplying the best information in their particular field.

Content isn't something that can be pumped out of an SEO scheme, it's the real deal, which visitors will spot immediately when they first visit the website. It's the sort of thing that will inevitably cause the site to be seen as an authority (and attract unsolicited inbound links), because that's what it is.

Unfortunately, unlike webmasters like ourselves, also 95% of the Internet's visitors can't seperate quality content from what you call dross, making dross-publishers still very rich...

BillyS




msg:3075516
 10:45 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>Good content should create value to the user.

This is my rule too. We are currently re-writing roughly 1,200 articles that appear on our website and the goal for each article is to provide REAL VALUE for the user.

We know what they are searching for, give them a COMPLETE answer to that question. And that can include examples and / or links to tools that can help too. (Even if they are not found on our website).

austtr




msg:3075523
 11:01 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

The concept that good content has to be unique is flawed... IMO

Content is seldom unique. Nearly any topic you care to discuss has had previous exposure of some kind, be it via print media, books, scholastic notes, lectures, TV coverage....the list goes on and on.

Those types of previous exposure may have focussed on just parts of a bigger picture. If you collect and collate the same data, rewrite it with logical headings and well structured, sequential presentation, then you might create something of value that no-one else has done before.

The result of your efforts may well be unique in that you are the first to have done it and the end result may be a valuable, worthwhile resource.

However, the reality is that you have just repackaged bits and pieces that were already in the public domain. This is true of most websites, irrespective of SERP's.


europeforvisitors




msg:3075605
 12:39 am on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Content is seldom unique. Nearly any topic you care to discuss has had previous exposure of some kind, be it via print media, books, scholastic notes, lectures, TV coverage....the list goes on and on.

Sure, presentation counts. If people were looking for pure, raw information, there wouldn't be dozens of books on how to use Microsoft Word, how to construct a Web site, how to bake bread, what to see in New York, etc. In travel (my topic), there are any number of Paris guidebooks that tell you how to ride the Metro or how to go up the Eiffel Tower, but some people like the Fodor's or Frommer's approach, others prefer the highly visual DK format, and other readers like the breezy, one-on-one, American-accented style of Rick Steves.

However, that doesn't mean anyone can take familiar and much-repeated information, recycle it as a dry 300-word article with bullet points, and expect to find success on the Web. The facts don't have to be unique, but the finished product needs to be unique or of compelling interest if you want to compete with the authors, publishers, or copywriters who came before you.

graywolf




msg:3075642
 1:29 am on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Great content without links is like locking William Shakespeare in a room to write masterpieces for himself.

joeduck




msg:3075675
 2:13 am on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dawn a fine post, but I disagree that Content is King and thinking soon content will be ... pawn.

As more and more data pours online in easy to access formats like RSS along with great new APIs and ways to Mashup I'm wondering what exactly will separate success from failure, and I think *community* will trump content in almost all cases.

The best example of this force at work is Myspace which is one of the top traffic, top value, and worst content properties in the world. It succeeds not because of quality content, rather because it's a successful and vibrant community of heavy internet users.

europeforvisitors




msg:3075687
 2:41 am on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

'm wondering what exactly will separate success from failure, and I think *community* will trump content in almost all cases.

Depends on how you define "succeed," I guess. Forums and other "communities" traditionally haven't done very well with advertisers.

fabricator




msg:3075780
 5:27 am on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm amazed no one has mentioned another important area, keeping content and links up to date.

An example one site I found recommends certain software over new beta products, but that point of view is 9 years out of date and the software mentioned no longer exists. All the links were also out of date.

But as the tutorials were still relevent so its a 50% usefull site. In order to outrank this site one would need to get more links and have simular tutorials.

One BIG problem is no longer maintained sites that link to each other, you can't get links from them to improve your rank, so you have to create better content.

I've found by covering areas not convered by other sites, and linking to sites with more generic content, I get far more return visitors.

idolw




msg:3075866
 7:50 am on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

content is meaningless. can be anything.
what is the content of flicker?
what is the content of google maps?

europeforvisitors




msg:3076183
 3:06 pm on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

content is meaningless. can be anything.
what is the content of flicker?
what is the content of google maps?

Sure, and while you're at it, why not say there's no difference between THE NEW YORK TIMES and a free weekly shopping newspaper? Or between KING KONG and your home video of a chimp at the zoo?

If content were "meaningless," search engines like Google wouldn't spend millions to index it, advertisers wouldn't spend billions to be associated with it, and Web entrepreneurs wouldn't be desperately in search of ways to get it on the cheap.

jhood




msg:3076199
 3:14 pm on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

The "community" phenomenon is not all that new. Media moguls figured out a long time ago that user-generated content was cheap and relatively easy. You might say it started with letters to the editor, grew into radio call-in shows, morphed into reality TV, then into MySpace and the uncounted thousands of community sites.

However, though cheap, user-generated content seldom brings top advertising dollars, discounting the occasional American Idol-style blockbuster.

Hugene




msg:3076205
 3:21 pm on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree with joeduck, content was king, and content is still king but only with the adsense model.

That is, when I say content, I mean content in the journalistic textual style most people are talking about here.

The future is not there, simply because when I read, I want to read real journalism, edited by an informed editor, and not from a screen (I mean, how much do you read on your TV?, so why read on the computer?)

The future (it is actually already here) is in collaboration. The internet is a software and can be a playing ground for self-expression, artistic-expression and communication.

I realized this a while ago already; too bad I donít have the resources of the big guys. In the collaboration and interactivity game, smaller webmasters are going to have to work a bit harder than before (just getting content and putting some html around it), so get ready for the new dance.

europeforvisitors




msg:3076272
 3:50 pm on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree with joeduck, content was king, and content is still king but only with the adsense model.

Really? Dang! I'd better stop accepting checks for those display ads and affiliate links on my "content site." :-)

The future is not there, simply because when I read, I want to read real journalism, edited by an informed editor, and not from a screen (I mean, how much do you read on your TV?, so why read on the computer?)

Actually, there's a much smaller leap from:

story on sheet of paper > story on screen

than from:

spoken conversation > message thread on a screen

Maybe that's why so many millions of people use search engines and read informational content on the Web every day.

Also, where do people get the idea that the Web is first and foremost a "collaborative medium"? It isn't; it's simply a delivery mechanism for various types of media that range from static reference works to news publications to forums such as this one.

Finally, it's sooooooo 1980s to ask "Why read on a computer?" We no longer live in an era of 14" CRT monitors with CGA video cards. For some of us (especially those of us with middle-aged eyes), reading THE NEW YORK TIMES at our preferred resolution and text size on a sharp LCD display is far more comfortable than reading the printed edition--at least when we're in our offices or at a coffee shop. I probably wouldn't read a novel on a computer screen, but I certainly don't hesitate to read the day's news or to research a trip on a computer screen, and Web-usage statistics indicate that I'm hardly alone.

egurr




msg:3076682
 7:29 pm on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Content should be
1.informative
2. very short (people read newspapers, scan web pages)
3. broken into sections with bold headings (scan friendly)

Learn it, know it, live it.

Doing these things and maintaining relevance to your thesis statement doesn't often fail. We have pages on sites that we've re-written from a marketing/scan perspective that have average on-page time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Phil_Payne




msg:3076699
 8:04 pm on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Back when I was wordsmithing for a living - 1990-ish - I used a piece of software called Corporate Voice. MS-DOS only, IIRC, and probably now obsolete. The principle was one espoused by a guy called Nick Robinson who ran a company called the PR Guild.

The principle is that every journal has a "reading age" and every profession has its "trade words" - so for a piece you write for a particular journal to be acceptable, it has to fit their house style.

The target was to get your press release text so perfect for the journal that the reporter just had to mark it up for the subeditors. A corollary is that there's no such thing as a press release that suits every journal.

What you did was take a few MB of text from your chosen publication, read it in and let it be analysed. Then you put your own text in, and it would overlay two teardrop diagrams - the journal's and yours.

Is there such a product available today?

idolw




msg:3076832
 11:10 pm on Sep 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

If content were "meaningless," search engines like Google wouldn't spend millions to index it, advertisers wouldn't spend billions to be associated with it, and Web entrepreneurs wouldn't be desperately in search of ways to get it on the cheap.

EFV, couple months ago i put empty page on page1 of google for a really competetive search term.
content of my page was "nothing".
that is why i am saying it is meaningless.

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