The Definitive Guide to Awesome Web Content

The Definitive Guide to Awesome Web Content

What is it we SEOs do? Blurb Content is conversation. You may ask them to go over something again, but it’s still a one-way conversation. This brings up three things: 1) Definitive content cultures conversation and decision-making Definitive Content educates people so, with their expanded knowledge can engage in conversation and make informed decisions. Blogging is about the person, not the problem. Blogging has it’s place creating blurb content, not definitive content (when you confuse the two, you have a personal problem). His collaboration to create the Local Search Ranking Factors (currently in it’s third volume) with other top brains in the industry helps not only define the fundamentals of search but also positions him and his website as experts. This is called Manifesto Content and this in itself is a behaviour search engines are also looking for. This compares to the Manifesto > Definitive > Blurb > Copy content strategy which is “evergreen” once you’ve created it. Is it Definitive Content?

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What is it we SEOs do? Most of our answers probably boil down to this; we help webpages rank higher at search engines by improving each of the three cornerstones of SEO. The first aspect; technical problems – like indexable content, meta robots tags and URL structures – has been cracked by SEOmoz’s awesome web app. Suddenly we can get a complete dashboard of errors to go and sort – easy.

Then of course, then there’s the “trust” issue. Getting authoritative and relevant links; and with Open Site Explorer where advanced link analysis and data is now only a click away. And with the a huge range of link building tips, strategies, and tactics here, it’s fair to say that we’ve got the SEO ninja skills to go and create “trust-worthy” websites.

3 Cornerstones of SEO

So that leaves content…

Content is abstract. It’s irrational. It’s hard for CEOs, managers and influential decision-makers to get there heads around. It’s fantastic.

What’s the point in what you read?

We consume content to solve problems, be entertained and to satisfy curiosity. Based on where you are in a decision making process, you can divide ‘content’ into four different categories. This post is all about defining each category.

In an age of tweetdeck, rss, five sentence emails and the internet making us stupid, supposedly, who on earth is hanging around to read meaningful stuff? I mean, it’s a bit over-rated when you’ve got to be checking your inbox every five minutes, keeping current with Twitter, and all these feeds, and then some…

The reason such technology exists is so we can be on the edge of stuff.

We can see and read the latest ideas, news and commentary. We can connect with people who share common interests and start a conversation. That kind of ‘content’ is a) meaningless to those who aren’t in the know and b) not particularly relevant a week or so down the line.

This is what is making the web at the moment – current conversation. Everyone can chip-in on what other people have to say. We all have our own circles of influence where we can share and spread ideas. We’re all wittering away with our own little thoughts – it’s not cohesive and it’s unlikely to be useful to an outsider trying to figure it all out – at least on it’s own. I call this Blurb.

Blurb Content is conversation.

It’s two way. Blurb is exclusive in that it’s meaningless to those who don’t understand the community, who don’t know the secret handshake and who aren’t clued up on the topic – but for those who are “in the know”, blurb is where discussion, debates and drama define opinions and leads to decision making. Within the club, blurb is awesome.

We’re lucky on blogs like this to have really great conversations, fleshing out theories and the results from experiments; it attracts intelligent two-way conversation. It’s why you might tweet about it more, because there’s so much value in the conversation. It’s why you’re more likely to take action, because you’ve heard it thrashed out by a handful of the industry brains. It’s why you’re more likely to come back for more conversation.

Equally, there’s pretty useless blurb. “Great post” “really enjoyed it” or “tldr” which has no real value to other visitors, and therefore no real value to search engines either. The real power of blurb and UGC is things like this (YOUmoz), Threadless and – dare I say it? – Wikipedia. People have been empowered to go and create their own awesome corner of the web.

The Rule of Blurb – Culture Valuable two-way Conversation.

Conversation is the fuel of the web; and with hundreds of millions of us online, that’s the potential for a big conversation. The problem we face, both as SEOs and marketers in general is initiating that conversation.

Who’s Gonna Break the Ice?

We can do this two ways:

1) Create content and ask for conversation (tweet this, leave a comment, let’s connect on facebook)

2) Create a system where you encourage other people to initiate conversation

Which way do you think is harder to replicate, will be more scaleable and have more influence across the web in the long term? You said two, right? The question is – how. Let’s go back to the SEOmoz model (because most of us have had a good look around this site and know it well, so it’s doubly relevant):

What got you to the point of chipping into the conversation on here? What qualified you to know what you were talking about, and pitch in with something valuable? I bet that this blog post hasn’t taught you everything you know about SEO (and if it did, you’d probably reside to saying: “great post. really interesting stuff” anyways).

The reason why is because at some point in your SEO education, you’ve stumbled across someone or something with “the answers”. Something that answers your questions fully. Where somebody has simply communicated the concepts behind SEO to you in one or more pieces of content.

  • A good book…
  • An awesome video…
  • A seminar…

The fundamental difference is it’s a one-way conversation.

Consider this scenario; your lost in an foreign city – you were supposed to be in an office meeting fifteen minutes ago. What do you do? You ask a local. They tell you how to get there. You listen and do what they say. They’re the expert, so you listen.

Example two. You have a medical problem. You go to your doctor. Your doctor examines you and tells you your problem, and prescribes a cure. Sometimes you might be reluctant, but you trust their skills and expertise so you do exactly what they say.

You watch a talent show on TV and want to take up the guitar. You find a teacher and hang on their every word whilst trying to work out how to play chords. You may ask them to go over something again, but it’s still a one-way conversation.

This behaviour is typical of “newbies”. You’re mind is like a sponge, you’re being entirely receptive to someone else’s ideas and explanations and because of this you’ll be able to understand and talk about the problem and solution – i.e. you can engage in the conversation on the web. This kind of content focuses and concentrates attention on one specific problem.

This is called Definitive Content.

This brings up three things:

Definitive book

1) Definitive content cultures conversation and decision-making

Definitive Content educates people so, with their expanded knowledge can engage in conversation and make informed decisions. This content is educational. People who are searching for information have already identified that they’re not comfortable making uninformed decisions. They’re looking for “the answer”

2) Definitive content must be remarkable + awesome + white-paper-worthy.

In a world where attention is a scarce resource, your definitive content needs to stand out from the crowd and be worth the time spent consuming it. It must be remarkable in order to have conversation about it. It must also be jaw-droppingly awesome so reactions and remarks are positive. And it must be white-paper-worthy in order to address the problem fully without “selling” (that comes later).

3) Blurb is frustrating for learners becuase it isn’t definitive

That’s why bloggers teaching stuff bitterly frustrates me. Back to basics, a ‘web log’ was originally meant for journalism, commentary and personal tales, and yet the platform has been stretched over other uses. So people now create niche blogs and post about something specific, perhaps offering tips. So far, harmless blurb…

Then they try writing something “definitive”…

This doesn’t work for three main reasons:

  • Bloggers are afraid of completing the article – they thrive from the conversations that evolve from a good blog post which doesn’t quite close all the doors.
  • Bloggers are afraid of forcing their readers to spend too much time reading for fear they’ll get bored. Bloggers are dependent on ‘little and often’ readership.
  • Bloggers are possibly even afraid of spending extra time on “definitive content” for fear that they won’t be able to produce enough posts so readers will lose interest.

And what’s sad, is that after the first few days after the post is published, the traffic will drop down to a mere fraction of what it was, since your readership has simply “been there, done that”. Congratulations; you’re now in a business where your ‘product’ becomes worthless practically overnight.

Blogging is about the person, not the problem.

Blogging has it’s place creating blurb content, not definitive content (when you confuse…