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With the plethora of content available today from a multitude of sources, I'm curious to know how people judge good content. In fact, not just good, but GREAT content. What makes an online piece stand out in your opinion?

  • SK

    Sean Kirby

    over 1 year ago #

    First, it has to be unique. Rehashes of the same old ideas just won't cut it. Give me new ideas or a different take on common themes.

    It has to be easy to read and understand. That one is pretty obvious.

    It also has to be interesting or entertaining. Sure people read content to learn, but they can do that in numerous ways, including other blogs, books, courses, etc. Nobody wants to be bored.

    It should be credible, especially if it's a practical, how-to piece. Back up what you write with statistics, case studies, etc.

    Great content is thorough. I shouldn't leave me with unanswered questions in my mind.

    Finally, great content is authentic. People can see through veiled sales pitches and biased information. If you have an established identity, then it should stay true to that.For instance, Alex Turnbull from Groove is transparent. Mark Duffy, aka copyranter, is snarky.

    I hope that helps.

    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Hi Sean, thanks so much for your input!

      I totally agree with your that it has to be thorough and credible. I see so many pieces lately that just throw random stats and numbers at the reader without giving a source! It's so frustrating because anyone can make up any sort of number, right? And it would also seem like a lot of people don't question these stats, or perhaps don't realize that if a source isn't given they can't really be trusted.

      And I'm definitely with you on the entertaining part. Reading and learning should never be boring. I think a good personality and a strong POV makes a piece stand out for me, too.

  • AM

    Amanda Milligan

    over 1 year ago #

    Great answers so far!

    It's good every now and then and conceptually think about content, too. Sometimes it's fun to compare great content to great art, like a song.

    INSTRUMENTATION: Are the people who put this together talented? Can they compose quality because they have years of practice? Do multiple "instruments" (writers, designers, programmers) know how to work together to make something beautiful? Are they willing to run through it multiple times to get it right?

    LYRICS: What are you saying? Is it really speaking to and connecting with people? What is your chorus, or the primary message of your content, and will you have people singing it once they're done reading? Great content has a message that resonates, and it's clear from reading what point you're trying to drive home.

    MELODY: Is the content catchy? Does it have attention-grabbing graphics, pithy headlines, and new data? It doesn't matter if the lyrics are great -- if you can't enjoy the music, you won't listen to the lyrics. The information used and the media used to illustrate that content is crucial to whether it'll actually be read and remembered.

    GENRE: How does it compare to other content its "genre" or industry? What does it offer that other b(r)ands -- ha, see what I did there -- don't? Why will people sing YOUR song over others? Does it defy convention? Does it innovate on the foundational principles?

    I can go on and on with this analogy, but I'll spare you all. :) Just note that dissecting what makes other great content work (inside and outside of your typical medium) can be beneficial.

    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Hey Amanda,

      LOVE your analogy. Especially because it touches on a something I consider of great importance: Good content isn't created in isolation or by a single person from start to finish. There are so many moving pieces that can take a piece of content from good to great and I think your analogy captures that concept very well.

      Ultimately, a great piece of content--like a great song--should stick to the mind ;-)

  • JA

    Justin Adelson

    over 1 year ago #

    I want to +1 @seankirby about "it has to be unique" - that is Inbound Marketing 101 and a big item in Shah and Halligan's Inbound Marketing book.

    What I will add is in addition to the piece having credibility, it also needs to be "Sticky", a method of making a piece of content or idea rememberable. This was created by Dan and Chip Heath and is discussed in their book, Made to Stick. Here are their six principles:
    1. Simplicity
    2. Unexpectedness
    3. Concreteness
    4. Credibility (see: Sean's answer)
    5. Emotions
    6. Stories

    Notice what the first letter of each principle spells? Anyway, if your content or idea as one or more of those principles it will make your content that much more rememberable. You can get a summary of all of those principles here: https://agilewarrior.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/made-to-stick-the-six-principles/

    Hope that helps!

    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks so much for your reply!

      I'd never run into the SUCCES framework from Made to Stick before, but it makes so much sense. And I love that they've put simplicity at the top! I think so many people try to impress with convoluted pieces that end up being confusing instead of thoughtfully complex. I think clarity and simplicity of thought (even for complicated concepts) are MUSTs for great content.
      I also like that they've included Emotion and Stories in there, going back to Sean's point about being entertaining. Life's too short to be bored by flat content.

      Thanks for providing the link to the framework, too. I'll be reading into that more! :-)

  • MK

    Mikkel Kiærulf Plæhn

    over 1 year ago #

    So far a lot of great comments, so I'll take another approach here.

    I think it's important to understand what the reader would expect from the content and what they're trying to achieve. I have two modes of consuming content on a daily basis;

    1. Needing to research something (usually via google)
    2. Being exposed to an article that intrigues me (fx via twitter)

    The difference for me here is quite important.

    #1 it has to be super relevant to what I want to achieve/solve. Let's say I'm researching drip campaigns for new users of a SaaS. In that case, I'm expecting a lot of tangible examples backed with data, visuals and next steps for me to action. I don't mind that the article is super long or in depth as long as I can scan it to the relevant points and extract sufficient information as I go (I'm essentially binge reading until I find enough gems for me to continue with).

    #2 I often expect to learn something new that I don't already know today, because really, how many articles about linkbuilding tactics can I bother to read?. What often happens here is that I experience rehashed content which doesn't drive further value to me - there simply has to be some novel thoughts, experiements and ideas that breaks my usual way of thinking (imagine it: Linkbuilding using instagram stories).

    When working with SEO, there's a common expression called search intent. It's about understanding what the searcher is trying to accomplish with the query. I do believe that a reader also has an intent, and understanding that is pretty important. Obviously an article can solve for both, but if you understand what they want to achieve and can solve that, you're miles ahead already. Now finding that insight is the challenge. I'd recommend using method #1 to discover how you can research super relevant topics to cover by understanding what keeps your prospective audience awake at night :)

    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Hi Mikkel,

      thanks for your thoughtful response.

      I think you make a great point here. Reader expectations and intent definitely matter!

      The distinction you make between searching for something in order to learn how it works/how to do it and reading an article on a familiar topic hoping to learn something new really sparked a lightbulb. You point at two different modes of consumption that's worth differentiating before starting to write a piece.
      - Is this a piece about the known/common ways of achieving something, offered (hopefully) in an engaging/entertaining way to attract readers?
      - Or is this an "insight" piece offering my unique perspective and expertise on something?

      I think making that distinction can help a writer gear the piece in the right direction.

      Thanks so much for offering your thoughts!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 1 year ago #
    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Thanks for the link Anuj!
      That's an interesting discussion.

      I think it's so hard to gauge (unfortunately) beforehand which posts will perform really well and which will go unnoticed. Sometimes you write a piece just to share a quick thought and it catches on fire, while the piece you spent an entire month crafting gets 2 tweets and one like.

  • DB

    Davis Brown

    over 1 year ago #

    Guide to Write Content Google Will Love https://blog.templatetoaster.com/seo-optimized-content

    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Thanks for sharing! This is a good guide for getting the basic features for a good post.
      I'm curious though in what makes a piece GREAT beyond the basic recipe. Things like tone and voice, the angle taken on a specific piece, and even how deep the writer goes in referencing (credible) sources, I think all play a big role in how a piece is perceived.

  • SK

    Sumit Kumar

    over 1 year ago #

    Great Content means a quality content that is unique, fresh, understandable and useful.
    Your question is how people judge the quality content or great content? The answer is tricky, suppose, you are searching on Google or any other Search Engine that you are used, "What is the difference between Cookies, Session Storage and Local Storage"? And you get the snippets on SERP with the same Keyword you search on Google or related to your query, but when you open the first result which exactly matches to your query but when you open that particular page and see there is nothing related to that query and you revert back and open other results and when you get the right answer related to that query and you got satisfied by that answer about the particular topic, that's the quality content and that is how people judge the quality content.
    Hope this will help you.
    Try to write the content for the users, not for search engines and write the content that related to the topic.
    Thank you

  • AG


    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Julia, I meant the latter i.e. if the content was a human and the reader as a stranger came across the content how would the content want to be perceived by this reader i.e. when we come across other human beings what is the impression we want to give them about us through the way we are packaged, the way we communicate/etc and are these human beings finding value in us that goes beyond a transaction or benefit and they want to keep interacting with us more and more.

    Sorry, if i am confusing you but where i was coming from is (as an example) how great leaders/charismatic individuals have the ability to make anyone that comes in contact with them feel special. There are things they do/say which reflects a better understanding of human nature and they work on that

    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Hi Andy,

      Yes, I thought you meant the second. And I loved the way you put it:
      "finding value in us that goes beyond a transaction or benefit and they want to keep interacting with us more and more."

      I think you really hit it on the nose there! What can a person or an article offer us BEYONG the expected benefit (end goal) of the transaction/interaction. THAT is what makes someone/something great, or special.

      Awesome stuff. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • RA

    Russ Avery

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Julia. I've just joined the community. I know this answer is sort of back-to-basics, but nobody has said it yet, so here goes! For me, great content will do one or more of the following four things: inform, educate, entertain, or inspire. If it achieves one of those, I've found that it's almost a guaranteed win and the reader will thank you for it by taking an action, whether that be a comment, social share, download, etc. Thanks!

    • JM

      Julia Melymbrose

      over 1 year ago #

      Thanks for your input, Russ!

      I wonder, however, do you think fulfilling just one of the requirements you mention enough to make something GREAT? Meaning, if a piece is educational/educational but boring, doesn't that sort of make it an average piece, rather than a great one?

      I think that I would be tempted to create two categories of requirements:
      1. Practical: educational or informative
      2. "Emotional": entertaining or inspirational

      Then I'd say that great content needs to fulfill one requirement in each category in order to stand out from the rest as great.

      What do you think?

      • ZB

        Ziev Beresh

        2 months ago #

        Hey Julia, I like the categorization into 2 above. However, I think my ideal content is both informative AND emotional.

        For example, if you're providing dry technical information in a "how to" guide, show some exciting proof of great results to get the person reading excited about implementing it.

        Depending on your brand, you can insert humor or reference fun topics the target audience would be interested in to entertain.

        Great content needs to fill at least one of those requirements, but in my opinion the BEST content fulfills both :-D

  • MV

    Murthy Venkat

    over 1 year ago #

    The great content means it should be containing useful and informative things. The content gives a solution of what readers looking for.

    Basically, internet users mostly search for their needs and information to clarify their doubts. So, every aspect of readers, the content has information with valuable data or insights. For ex: Neil Patel is writing in his every blog post a very detail information like step by step guide.

  • AK

    Alex Krasko

    3 months ago #

    1. It is both useful and entertaining. Hard to achieve, but we are talking "great" content, not merely "good".
    2. It is good looking. With impressive visuals - pictures, videos, infographics etc. It can even have interactive features.
    3. It is specific. It needs to demonstrate concrete information/advice.
    4. It has a good style, grammar, and punctuation.

  • ZB

    Ziev Beresh

    2 months ago #

    To me, great online content meets some or all of the following criteria:
    -It's readable and easy to digest
    -It presents unique insights on a topic
    -It's authoritative: a journalist could refer to it
    -It contains ample visual elements (not a wall of text)
    -It can be trend-related
    -It offers an argument or opinion
    -It elicits an emotional response
    -It's useful: it contains answers to questions people actually want to know about (and ideally are also inputting into search)

    There are probably other criteria, but I think these guidelines are a good start!

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