Monday, July 03, 2006

How to Write Good Web Content

Affiliate marketers have multiple techniques to make money with, but the one that will have the longest half-life is publishing good content. Pay per click ad arbitrage will eventually become too competitive, search engines will eventually wipe out spam or at least reduce its profitability to next to nothing, and email marketing will go even further in the same direction as the dinosaur.

But all 3 of the major search engines want to list good quality content in their results, and that's not going to change anytime soon. If a search engine lists low quality content in their results, users will flee to the competition. Riding the "content is king" train will take you a lot farther in the long run as an affiliate marketer than just about any other method. Hence this article about how to write good web content.

Characteristics of Good Content

  • Good content is unique. If you think about this for a minute, it will almost seem like this goes without saying, but if you take a look at some of the results in Yahoo or MSN for some high-competitive keyword phrases, you'll find plenty of content that does nothing more than re-hash content that is readily available on many other sites.
  • Good content is user-focused. Google has been preaching this for ages now: focus on the user and all else will follow. This particularly useful when talking about the information you put on your website. People search the Internet for things that help them, so how-to articles, tips, and information folks can use is always going to be one of the most important aspects of user-focused web content.
  • Good content is well-written. Double check your spelling and punctuation. Avoid the passive voice. Omit needless words. All of the fundamentals of good writing apply to web content. These simple things amount to showing respect, not disdain, for your readers.
  • Good content on the internet is easy to read. Bulleted lists, short sentences, and short paragraphs are user-friendly ways to make your content more accessible to online readers. Headings and sub-headings are important too.
  • Good web content is honest. Don't make up BS sales letters. If you don't honestly believe in a product, and you haven't used a product, then maybe it's better not to promote it. I built several websites in a particularly competitive industry once. When I finally stopped working on the "salesy" sites and started writing about my actual experiences in this particular industry, the traffic to that new website skyrocketed beyond that of all my other websites almost overnight.

Content Mistakes to Avoid

It's easy to make most of the following mistakes when writing content. Try to avoid them.

  • Providing inaccurate information. Lies, falsehoods, and mistakes might rank temporarily, but that will not last. Search engines are going to continue to improve.
  • Anything deceptive equates automatically to low-quality content. In fact, deception is, or ought to be, the defining characteristic of spam of all kinds, both search engine spam and email spam.
  • Automatically generated pages. These might or might be useful in certain situations, but they never amount to "quality content".

Other Resources Related to Writing Good Quality Content

  • Search Engine Ranking Factors from Website Helpers (The first section is about quality content.)
  • The Elements of Style - Available for free online from Bartleby, this was for years the best book I'd ever read about how to write.
  • Writing for the Web from Jakob Nielsen - Nielsen is recognized as one of the leading thinkers on web useability. His insights into how writing for the web is different than writing in print are fascinating.
  • Wikipedia - How to Write a Great Article - The Wikipedia is a volunteer-edited encyclopedia where anyone can edit. It's a fascinating sub-culture on the web that you're probably already aware of, but most people already know about it. Why? Because they offer great content throughout. (With a few exceptions.)

I hope that this article is high-quality content. I probably should do another draft, now that I think about it.


At 12:23 PM , Blogger Cher said...

Indeed a nice article dipecting the importance of the content. As rightly said CONTENT is the king, every affiliate should stick to this mantra.

At 11:21 PM , Blogger UGN said...

I am new to the idea of email marketing services and am considering using one for a community theater that I am part of. You said email marketing will go the way of the dinosaur. Explain please. Thanks!


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