Content is the single most important and sought-after commodity on the web. It’s the entire reason people go online and frequent news sites, blogs, chat rooms and billions of other web pages every day.
But what exactly is content?
On the web, we define content as the topics, ideas, facts or statements in a webpage or website. Content is published in the form of text, images, audio and video.
Content serves four main purposes: to inform, educate, entertain and connect people. Go to any website and you’ll observe at least two of these purposes in action.
In many cases, content also must serve to capture people’s attention to the point of convincing them to take some sort of action, such as buy something, sign up for an account, download a free report, etc. In this case we would turn to specialized marketing craft called copywriting (for more on that, visit Brian Clark’s Copyblogger.)
The Seven Types of Niche Content
Most web content falls into one of these seven niches:
- News: information, facts, headlines and reports of a broad or focused topic. See: CNN, CNet, The Huffington Post, Techcrunch.
- Education: tips, help, answers, advice, self-improvement, personal development and productivity. See: Problogger, Prevential, Steve Pavlina, Entrepreneurs Journey.
- Humor: wit, jokes, sarcasm, and other all-around silliness. See: College Humor, The Onion.
- Gossip: the latest intimate rumors and behind-the scenes information on people or companies. See: Perez Hilton, Radar Online.
- Commentary: opinions, reviews, observations or interpretations of a particular subject, service or product. See: Talking Points Memo, Money Young, Daily Kos.
- Community: a group of people linked by common interests. Includes social media. See: Fatty Weight Loss, Facebook, Twitter, UStream.
- Narrative: fictional and non-fictional stories and anecdotes. See: James Brausch, History.com.
Great content requires great thinking
As a creator of content, you must always be mindful of what I call the “divine trinity”: quality, clarity and relevance. Quality refers to the originality of thoughts and ideas, clarity refers to being well-written and organized and relevance refers to the effective relation of your content to its intended audience.
Following all three of these principals is the basis of creating successful content (also known as compelling content, magnetic content, genuine content, interesting content, killer content, etc.). If you leave even one of divine trinities out, you compromise the integrity of your work and diminish your chances of being noticed.
In theory and in practice, content should never be used as filler. In other words — don’t publish content that doesn’t support and sustain the objective of your site. A simple analogy is to think of every piece of content you create as a brick you’re laying to build a house. You wouldn’t want to use cheap materials (imitation content) or shoddy workmanship (sloppy writing) when laying that or any other brick because it’s going create a weak spot in your overall structure.
So, given the choice of publishing content high in quality or high in quantity, you should always go with quality. And while this isn’t always easy — especially on a fast-moving blog, news or gossip site — you will be better off in the long run because your content will be considered timeless. Timeless content transcends novelty and embraces innovation.
Content comes first
I recently had a small Twitter “argument” several weeks ago over the hierarchy of content creators (say bloggers) among every other niche on the web.
I stated that all other web-related roles people have — such as programmers, marketers, advertisers, SEOs, designers, database managers, etc. — were all intended to be the support system for content creators.
One guy picked up it and replied: ‘Too bad there would be no internet w/out us network and sys-admins.”
He was right, and out of sounding conceited I later retracted my tweet. But let’s just face the truth: the web runs on content. It’s the whole reason why we use it!