If you’ve spent much time reading blogs and surfing websites, you might have noticed some similar structure in headlines and content across different sites.
That isn’t by accident.
There are proven formulas that people use to create content that achieves different goals for a blog or website. Before we jump into what I mean, let’s talk about content itself.
What is Content Online, Anyway?
The word “content” is one of the most popular words with marketers and entrepreneurs online. There’s nothing magic about the word, and it probably means exactly what you think it means.
Content is simply the stuff on your website. It’s the information or tools or services that you provide on your blog or site for visitors to consume or use.
Content can either be free or it can cost money. It can be interactive or one-sided. Content can be static or dynamic, words or pictures, old or new. You get the idea.
Learn All the Flavors of Content
There are actually infinite different types of content, but some are more common and effective than others. Each type of content has a specific purpose and can achieve different results for your website or blog.
For example, if you’re trying to build a community at your site and foster discussion between members, you might add forums or a Q&A section to your site. You could also write on some purposefully controversial subject. Or, you could create some polls on your site, or simply ask questions within a blog post.
If you want to get other sites to link to your site, you might create a “top 10″ list of your other favorite bloggers or online personalities. You could criticize someone or something publicly. Or, you could create a big valuable free resource like a special tool or ebook.
If you want people to share your content on social media sites, you could create a contest and require that entrants share a link to your site on Twitter or Facebook. You could research the types of content that does well on Digg or StumbleUpon and try to replicate the winning formula in your own content.
Whatever you want to achieve with your site, there is a type of content that will best help you reach those goals.
We’ll be rapping about different types of content in depth here at Think Traffic in plenty of upcoming posts.
To get you started, here are 20 tasty flavors of content that can help you build traffic, start conversations, build community and attract links to your site:
- Top “10” or “100” lists — these are highly shareable on social media and can get people to link to your site (especially the list is about other people or companies).
- Search engine optimized content — any type of content can be optimized for search engines, and some content can be created primarily for search marketing.
- Big lists of resources — these are different from “top 10″ type lists in that the resources you list aren’t necessarily the best of the best. Typically, these lists are more shareable the bigger they get.
- Contests and giveaways — everyone loves a giveaway, and this is a great way to generate interest in your site or service. Just make sure the giveaway is something of real value.
- Surveys — a survey can be a great way to connect with and better understand your audience. Surveys can be used to create multiple pieces of content using the survey results.
- Polls — polls are different from surveys in that they are usually just one to a handful of questions. People answer them and can view the results right away. These are great for building community (and conducting research).
- Co-branded content — put your audience together with another site’s audience and you’ll both benefit from the cross-pollination.
- Linkbait — linkbaiting refers to when you create interesting or creative content that is likely to cause discussion and linking to your site.
- Controversial opinions — saying something controversial is bound to generate conversation and traffic to your site when done in the right way (and not overused).
- Case studies — a lot of what is said online is opinion that isn’t backed up by substance. If you take some time to study some real occurrences or data, people will notice.
- How-tos — the “how to” is one of the most useful forms of content online. Teach your readers how to do something and they will come back to your site and maybe even tell their friends about it.
- Nostalgic/pop culture frameworks — take a popular film, song, TV show or other pop culture reference and use it as a framework to analyze some other (maybe normally mundane) topic. This type of content can be very popular.
- Purchased content — looking for some great content, but don’t have the time or background to produce it? Consider purchasing instead, or hiring someone to create content for you.
- “Heavy” content like eBooks — a well put together eBook is a great way to build expert status on a particular topic. Make a really great free eBook, and it could be downloaded thousands of times.
- Installable widgets — widgets are little pieces of functionality like toolbars or badges that someone can add to a website. Widgets can become viral content because each installation is in effect a little advertisement for potential customers.
- Photo collections — a great topical photo collection is always highly shareable and can be popular on StumbleUpon, Digg, etc.
- Paid content — by charging for content, you can build a higher quality community than you can with free content. Oh, and you can also make money.
- User-submitted content — some of the biggest sites in the world are built entirely on user-submitted content. It’s a great content type for building community and building a big site.
- Interactive content — interactive content (content that requires user input) is great for keeping users on your site longer and to get them to dig deeper.
- Audio/video — with so much text-based content online, you can really stand out by making good use of audio- or video-based content.
Continue with the Website Traffic 101 series.
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What other tasty content types do you use? Let us know in the comments!