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Content is king: Enhancing web site success with original content

By Jon E. Dougherty
Posted Thursday, December 2, 2004

As a webmaster providing information content to an ever-growing Internet audience, you should become familiar with the expression, "Content is king!" The reason is because once you’ve spent time and money building your audience and clicking off major hit counts each month, content is the one thing that will keep your visitors loyal to your site.

When I first heard that expression I disagreed: In the new media realm of the Internet, I believed content was secondary to web site design, ease of navigation, loading time, and a half-dozen other technical aspects.

That’s not completely true. I have learned that what you present on your site is at least as important as how you present it (and how often), if you expect to give your visitors a reason to come back time and time again.

The good thing is that in today’s Internet world, content is readily available. Online syndication firms like iSyndicate.com (http://www.isyndicate.com) and Moreover.com (http://www.moreover.com) allow you to download JAVA script or similar HTML code for free that automatically places fresh, daily updated content on your site.

But as the Internet matures, carrying somebody else’s content and having your visitors redirected to other web sites to read that content may not be enough to sustain loyalty to your brand any longer. For instance, one thing web advertisers are looking for these days besides a mega-hit count is the amount of time surfers spend on your site. You may get 120,000 visitors a day but if they’re only staying 2 or 3 minutes, that’s not as valuable to an advertiser as a site getting 76,000 hits per day with surfers staying as long as 8 or ten minutes.

What you should think about, then, if you’re serious about providing information content, is to consider a way to keep visitors coming to your site more often – then staying there to read the content you provide.

You can do that by either developing your own content in-house or by incorporating syndicated content onto your site. The former is best but the latter will do as well.

If you’re not journalistically inclined yourself, you can usually find experienced (or even aspiring) reporters and journalists who would jump at the chance to hone their craft at your site. This method would cost you little, depending upon the level of experience you were seeking to hire, and it would help keep you busy providing your visitors with that fresh content you’re after. An average payment fee for online reporters and writers is around 5 cents per word, with articles averaging about 500 to 750 words each.

If you want to pay a little more and don’t want the task of hiring/finding your own writers and editing and posting their submissions yourself, you should know that there are a growing variety of quality licensed syndication companies designed specifically for Internet delivery might be your best solution.

Screaming Media (http://www.screamingmedia.com), iSyndicate, and 7am.com (http://www.7am.com) are all experienced and outstanding content delivery syndication firms who can help you, for a varying fee, incorporate (automatically) their daily content into your site. You have to first decide what you can afford to spend or, in the case of repeat traffic, what you can afford to lose if you don’t stand out from the crowd.

One word of caution, however: Try to be original. Lots of content providers already carry some of the "traditional" services like Reuters, the Associated Press, and UPI. If you can, try to find a syndicated content feed offered by a different provider – a news service or a sports feed that is just as good as "the big boys" but different enough to provide your site with a unique feel.

Not all content is alike, even if the subject or focus of the content is the same. For example, there isn’t much difference in the way Reuters or the AP handle a similar subject; but USAJournal.com [http://www.usajournal.com] or WorldNetDaily.com (http://www.worldnetdaily.com) may have a totally different point of view on the same subject.

That is what is means to be unique – just don’t be the "same" as everyone else! Give them a reason to come to your site instead of some other site.

In short, if you’ve spent all this time creating traffic for your site, now it’s time to build brand recognition and most of all, loyalty. That kind of loyalty keeps your site numbers high and your advertising/marketing potential high as well.

But if your content is just like the content on 100,000 other sites on the Internet, you have to, at some point, take on the role of one or your site’s visitors and ask yourself: "What makes me want to keep coming back here?"

If you can be honest with yourself, the direction you take with your content and the delivery of information on your site will become obvious. Just remember always: "Content is king!"

About the Author
Jon E. Dougherty is the CEO of USA Features Media Co. (http://www.usafeatures.com) and editorial director for USDefense.com (http://www.usdefense.com) and USAJournal.com (http://www.usajournal.com).