So you've heard that content is king and have jumped on the bandwagon in earnest. But your content creation efforts haven't had the impact you desired and the rampant hordes of visitors are nowhere to be seen.
There's somewhere between half a billion and 14 billion websites on the internet right now and with content generation at an all-time high, it's more important than ever to find out why no one is reading your content.
# 1 - Haggard Headlines The internet has firmly put the idea that 'a rose by any other name is just as sweet' out to pasture. As is often trumpeted, our interactions with modern technology have depleted our attention spans to such a level that we can be leisurely outpaced by the average goldfish.
For better or worse, you need to tailor your content to an audience that is used to browsing for near-instant gratification. Simply put - they know what they're looking for and at the moment, it's not you.So how do you correct this?
First and foremost - you need to apply some empathy and craft a headline that addresses the needs of your prospective visitor. People judge your content based on the title, not the other way round - so make sure this is enticing, exciting or promises to be educational (or better still, all of the above).
#2 - Towers of Text Another often-overlooked element of content is the layout. While your site's design might be the bee's knees, can you honestly say you've looked at your content with the same discerning eye? As previously mentioned, people's attention spans are waning and our interactions with TV, radio and the internet have accustomed us to being served up bite-sized chunks of information that are easily digestible and make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
However, if a user who lands on your site is confronted with impenetrable walls of text, they're likely to be intimidated. So, firstly make prolific use of paragraphs and be sure to include images whenever possible. On this front, there are some great tools available for those who are worried about image copyright issues, but don't want to fork out for a subscription to an image library.
#3 - Abject Articles
While you don't need to reinvent the wheel with every post - your articles need to add something to whatever discussion they're part of. As someone who looks stuff up on the internet a lot, it becomes pretty clear pretty fast when an article or source is poor in value.
The bottom line is don't just rehash what others are saying. While Google may reward you for producing 'substantial' content - your visitors simply won't engage with something that's not interesting.
On the flip side, however, don't say something controversial that can't be backed up, or make any statements that have the potential to backfire. The ease of fact-checking on the internet means that there's no excuse for sloppy research and any lax efforts in this regard will be quickly found out.
While a controversial article can attract a lot of attention, it won't all be positive and relying on this technique as a crutch just won't cut it in the long run.
#4 - Promotion and Progression The battle for relevant content doesn't end when you hit the 'publish' button, in fact - it's barely begun. If you're producing content without having a basic understanding of how SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media work, you're putting yourself at a serious disadvantage.
You need to factor in the inherent laziness of people from the ground-up and make your content as easy to share, search for and select as possible. Even if you've got a basic WordPress or Blogger blog - there's loads you can do to boost your SEO and some handy plugins that can automate most of the process for you. For beginners, there are innumerable introductory guides out there, but I'd heartily recommend Moz as a starting point.
The same goes for social and in this day and age, there's simply no excuse for not utilising one or several of the myriad channels available to you. While Facebook and Twitter aren't necessarily right for everyone - almost every brand and business can find at least one suitable platform on which to promote its content.
Sharing via social isn't just great for generating word-of-mouth buzz, but there's also a good chance that it'll be given more weight in terms of search ranking in the coming years. It's also well worth getting to grips with something called rel="author", but as this is quite a complex topic, we'll save the ins and outs of it for another post.
#5 - Schedule and Subscription Since Google's 2010 Caffeine update, sites that regularly update their content tend to be judged more relevant than those that don't (although it's not entirely as clear cut as this and there's obviously a lot of other factors that are taken into account). Regularly updating your site's content is not only a good idea in terms of SEO, but will also encourage repeat visits (assuming it's interesting and relevant).
Even if your visitors don't read your content, having a barren blog or news section can make it seem like you're out of business. While you might not have something original to say in every post- there's nothing holding you back from curating relevant content and sharing that with your readership. Offering a subscription service is also a great idea. This will alert those who've opted in any time you post something new, encouraging repeat visits from people who've previously found your content interesting and might even encourage some social shares.
While this list is in no way the bottom line in why your content is going unread, these are some factors that typically affect those new to the realm of content creation. If you've fought and overcome your content battles, why not let us know your story in the comments?
And if you're looking for tips on how to create and curate content that will appeal to your audience, why not check out our brand new eBook?
Images used courtesy of Wikimedia Commons