Websites come in a lot of different forms and flavors.
Yet, for people wanting to make money online, there has been a growing emphasis on the process of creating a content website.
All websites have some amount of content, but a content website is one that places a strong emphasis on creating content.
Specifically, this type of site focuses on using content as a way of providing value.
Creating a content website isn’t something that happens accidentally.
Instead, it is something that you need to work towards over time.
However, this type of website can be very valuable for getting traffic and for making money.
The Role of Content
Content is a surprisingly difficult word to define.
In internet marketing, the term really refers to what is contained on a web page.
Most of the time people are specifically referring to the written articles on a web page, but sometimes the term also refers to things like infographics, videos, podcasts and other things that are common on web pages.
In this case, I’m going to limit my discussion of content to written content, specifically in terms of articles.
The reason for this is written content is what plays a major role in the way that a website ranks.
However, if you are creating a content website, it is worth taking the time to consider other types of content for some situations.
For example, webinars can be a fantastic way of engaging your audience and infographics can sometimes show information in a way that an article simply cannot.
At the end of the day, the specific mix of content and content types that works best for you will depend on your own personal preferences, your audience and your niche.
Putting all of these factors aside though, written content does play a highly significant role in ranking a website and in engaging your audience – and it is something that all websites should focus on.
In particular, a large number of online searches are done through Google’s search engine. If you are looking to get search engine traffic for your website, this means that you really do have to play Google’s game.
Google is actually one of the main reasons that content is so important.
The search engine giant has placed a strong emphasis on website quality in its algorithm updates, penalizing sites that don’t live up to its concept of quality.
No one knows every aspect of Google’s algorithm, but the company has made it clear that it considers content to be one of the key indicators of site and page quality.
This means that if you focus on developing quality content for your site, you can help to improve how your pages rank.
However, if you don’t focus on content, there is a risk that you won’t be able to rank at all.
But… what is quality content?
Everyone says ‘write quality content’, but few people actually bother to talk about what this means.
One element of quality content is simply making sure it is technically correct. This means things like no spelling or grammar errors.
Another aspect is whether the content is relevant to the audience.
For example, I have seen many articles online where people spend 500 to 1,000 words talking about something like:
The Importance of Confidence
In particular, the articles tend to go around in circles and don’t really say anything that isn’t immediately obvious to people reading the article. In fact, you come away from the article feeling like you have wasted your time.
Articles like that are often written to promote a specific product (often an eBook), but they are pretty much useless.
Even if there were no technical mistakes in the article at all, I would still say that it was a low-quality piece of writing.
For content to be high quality, it has to involve thought and it has to actually have a point.
The reader should come away from the article knowing something that they didn’t know before. Likewise, you should be addressing an interest or a need that the audience has.
So, if you had a website targeted professional photographers, you wouldn’t write an article on the basics of using a camera.
That simply wouldn’t be relevant.
Anyone on your site is already going to know that information. Not only would the article be irrelevant, but it would probably insult some of your audience.
Likewise, you a highly technical piece on using a camera probably wouldn’t be relevant to an audience interested in taking quick pictures while on holiday.
So, there has to be a match between your content, your site and your audience. Without this match, your content is simply not relevant.
The idea of relevance has become important to Google too.
Some of the more recent updates to Google’s algorithms have allowed the search engines to consider whether the content is relevant by considering contextual keywords.
Now clearly, Google is never going to be perfect at picking out whether content is high quality or not, but it is getting better. This suggests that it is worth taking the time to simply invest in high-quality content to start off with, rather than trying to game the system.
Additionally, content that is technically correct, relevant and interesting is the content that is likely to engage your audience and this directly relates to the profitability of your website.
Content and Keywords
Having relevant and useful content is important for your readers, but that’s only really relevant if your readers see your content.
This is where keyword research comes into play.
Search engines use algorithms to work out what is displayed when a person searches for a given topic.
If you completely ignore keywords and just write your content, then you will probably have a lot of trouble getting it to rank in search engines. This can be a real problem, as it means that you probably aren’t getting much traffic.
Because of this, people focus on keyword research.
This process involves looking at how often a particular phrase is searched for and how much competition there is for that phrase. The idea is to find a phrase that has a decent amount of searches and relatively low traffic.
Once you have found this phrase, you then take it and incorporate it into your content.
As you are writing content, you use the keyword (or keywords) that you researched as part of your writing.
Whatever keyword you use, it has to sound natural in your content.
Ideally, no one should be able to work out your keyword by reading your content.
You also don’t need to use the keyword a large number of times. Although some people still recommend using a particular keyword density, Google has made it clear that it does not look at the number of times the keyword is used but rather on other indicating factors.
Content and Website Quality
If you are developing a website, one of the first things to consider is what the site is going to contain.
Some people design sites that are very small, often only containing five or six pages. Frequently, these sites focus on trying to promote a single product. This approach often involves hyping the product and manipulating the audience until they are ready to buy.
This type of site used to be very popular.
Google didn’t particularly like them, but because they were easy to make and rank, people would create these sites, make money off them for a few months, then move on when Google shut them down.
With Google’s algorithm changes, this type of site has stopped being effective. In fact, these sites rarely rank and are quickly spotted by Google.
A second type of site is a niche site.
Basically, a niche site focuses on one specific area, such as a hobby, a problem or just an area that people are interested in.
Niche sites range in size and some of them do have hundreds of pages. They can be highly effective sites because they often target an interested audience and one that is very willing to spend money.
Often, niche sites are paired with affiliate marketing approaches. This allows them to earn money by promoting specific products.
For example, a niche site on surfing might promote specific boards or accessories that would appeal to people interested in the hobby.
A third type of site is an authority site.
This type of site has become particularly popular and effective – and Google’s algorithm changes have played a large role in this.
In many ways, an authority site is like a larger and more complex affiliate site. Often an authority site will cover more topics and will do so in greater detail.
While a niche site might contain significant information on a given topic, an authority site frequently tries to offer a one-stop source of information on the topic of its choice.
This is a type of site that Google strongly encourages and one that tends to rank very well.
Additionally, it is a type of site that users like, as authority sites tend to contain a large amount of information and often grow over time.
Of these forms of website, creating an authority site is by far the most challenging – but it is also the best long term investment.
With an authority site, you end up investing a considerable amount of time and energy into the site, ending up with a site that you can potentially continue to grow and develop for many years.
Like niche sites, affiliate marketing can be an effective way of earning money on an authority site. However, many people choose to sell their own products or take advantage of email marketing to promote products.
All of these approaches are well-suited to the website type, and give website owners a range of different options for making money from their site and for developing their site in the long term.
Credibility is a real issue in website development.
It is relatively easy for anyone to develop a website, and people can use websites as a forum to say whatever they want.
Because of this, there is a lot of false information out there.
This makes creating a content website so much more difficult.
Many of your readers won’t initially trust what you have to say, because they have no way of knowing whether you telling them the truth or not.
Many of them will also feel that you selling or promoting things makes you so biased that you cannot possibly be honest.
To be successful with an online business, website owners have to find ways of establishing credibility.
This gets easier as a site grows, but when you first start out, you have no reputation and nobody really cares who you are or what you have to say.
There are a few different ways that you can establish some credibility for yourself.
One way is to reference back to people who do have authority.
For example, if was am talking about a recent news event, I might provide a link to a news story in the Huffington Post or somewhere like that.
However, you do need to pick you links with care.
For example, you probably don’t want to reference back to a site that is your direct competitor, even if they have authority and you don’t.
If you did this, you would just be sending people away from your site.
For some niches, an effective approach is to link out to scientific literature that supports the perspectives you are discussing.
This can provide you with a whole lot of credibility and it makes it clear that you aren’t simply making up information.
In general, credibility is about proving that what you are saying is true.
Another way of doing this is through using examples or case studies from your own experience.
For example, you might talk about the way that the traffic to your website changed as you followed a specific technique, using specific examples and images from your own site.
If you can actually show that something you are talking about is true – it is so much more powerful and convincing than simply saying it.
Even if you don’t have this kind of evidence, you can still establish credibility simply by being honest and being realistic.
This is particularly true if you are discussing a product or a service.
Most product reviews out there only talk about the good side of their product.
They pretend that there is nothing wrong with their product and that it is suitable for everyone.
But that is never the case.
Over promoting a product in this way can have some major negative impacts.
It makes your site look completely biased, which diminishes your credibility.
Instead, credibility comes from being honest with your readers, which includes telling them the good and the bad parts of any product. After all – nothing’s perfect.
You can gain a lot of credibility simply by telling your audience who your product isn’t suited for – something that most sites simply don’t bother doing.
Writing Good Content
Clearly content is an important thing for creating a content website, and really for any type of website at all. But, how do you go about writing good content?
As I mentioned above, one of the important things is to make your content relevant.
This means that it should fill a need and it should answer questions that the audience may have.
Likewise, good content has to be well written and it has to be interesting.
One of the most important tools for achieving this is who you are as a person. In fact, the personality and experiences of the writer are a really powerful tool when it comes to writing.
If you write content as in a faceless manner, like you were writing an essay or a textbook, you will find that your content isn’t really that interesting. This will mean that your audience isn’t particularly well engaged with your content.
In contrast, if you let your own personality shine through, you can create content that is interesting and engaging.
Your own experiences and perspectives help to build up your credibility and they help to give your audience something to connect to.
Ultimately, good content has its own voice and is different than anything else out there.
Matching Your Site
When you are writing content, it’s important to consider what your website is going to be about and what its overall purpose is.
For example, some people develop websites that are purely informational, while others might develop a site that is designed to convince readers of a particular perspective.
If you are looking at a site that is going to discuss and over solutions to a range of problems within a given field, you might be looking at an authority site, such as a site focusing on health, weight loss or fitness.
Alternatively, you might create a site that is designed to engage with a passionate and interested audience.
A common approach to this is a site for a specific hobby, designed to appeal to people interested in the hobby or those already engaged in it.
The specific type of site and niche you are considering will play a significant role in who exactly your audience is.
Taking the time to learn about your audience and understand them is an important component of writing content and planning your site.
If you don’t know much about your audience, then it’s likely that your content will miss its mark entirely.
Instead, you need to look at exactly who is going to be visiting your site and what information they are going to be looking for. With this information in hand, you can then start to plan and build your content based on the needs of your audience.
The Website as a Whole
Any website contains a number of different web pages.
It’s easy to think about the site in terms of these individual pages without really considering the site as a whole.
After all, each page on a website has its own content and has probably been the subject of some keyword research and planning.
But, your site is so much more than a collection of individual pages.
Instead, the individual pages on your site act to add or subtract from the overall image of your site. This means that you have to pay close attention to every page, regardless of how important you think they are.
Now, there are two things going on here.
First, individual pages affect how visitors view your site.
If a person reads a high-quality article when they first enter your site, then a low-quality one later – what are they going to think of your site?
People actually pay more attention to the bad parts of your site than the good ones.
This means that all of the little errors tend to stand out.
This includes problems like spelling and grammar errors, broken links, poor navigation and images that don’t work.
In fact, even a single one of these issues can dramatically lower how people think of your site.
After all, any error tends to make a site look unprofessional – and this isn’t the perception you are going for.
The second thing is that search engines look at your entire site, not just part of it.
This is particularly true for Google, but most people aren’t aware of it.
In the company’s webmaster discussions, Google has made it clear that its recent algorithms have a strong focus on the quality of websites.
This means that higher quality web pages will tend to rank higher than low-quality ones.
However, Google has also noted that it develops a quality value for a website based on its overall level of quality.
This value can then influence the way that individual pages on the site rank.
In practice, this means that a few low-quality pages on a website could make high-quality ones rank poorly.
This is a major issue in the internet marketing field, because most people focus on the ‘practice until it is perfect’ approach. As such, many sites have low-quality early posts but high-quality posts later on.
Pages on a site like this might rank well, but the penalty on them means that they frequently don’t rank as well as they should.
This means that you have to look at your website as a whole and consider what message your overall site is sending.
For many people, this may mean taking the time to go back and revisit old posts – improving them to match the overall quality of the site. An alternative is to actually remove the low-quality content from the site altogether or mark it so that it is not crawled by search engines.
Design versus Content
Content is one of the most important aspects of a website, but it isn’t the only important aspect.
When people choose to focus on their content, they often entirely overlook their site design, often paying very little attention to what their site is going to look like or how it is going to perform.
This isn’t a good approach.
The content and the design of your website are two closely related features, and they should always be considered in relation to one another.
For example, if you choose the design of your site without taking your content into account, you may end up with a design that simply doesn’t fit your content. Many people end up with a site design that look fantastic when they have hardly any content, but starts to get difficult to use as their content grows.
Conversely, if you write the content for your site without even considering the design, you may find it difficult to create a design that works well with your content.
Appearance and Navigation
As you work on designing a website, its overall appearance and navigation are things that you have to take into account.
Regardless of your site topic, it should be easy for your audience to navigate your site and get to all of the parts of the website. If you make navigation difficult, people are going to quickly lose interest in your site.
Likewise, you need to take the time to make sure you end up with a visually appealing website.
Even if you have the most amazing content in the world, people will still initially judge your website on its appearance.
So, if your site looks bad, people won’t get to the point where they read your content.
It can take a while to figure out what the best design approach is for your website, but this is something that everyone should focus on. Otherwise, you end up losing readers before they even get to your content.
Serving the Audience
The process of creating a content website goes beyond the content itself.
You also need to maintain a strong focus on your audience and its needs.
In its webmaster discussion, Google touches on this, talking about whether the content on the site is developed in an attempt to rank on search engines, or whether the site provides actual information that interests the audience.
The implication is that a high-quality site should be focused on meeting the needs of its audience
This is always a bit of a balancing act.
On one hand, you want to be creating a site that actually makes money, but on the other hand, you need that site to be authentic enough to actually rank.
The changes in Google’s algorithms suggest that the answer is to really focus on quality content and providing the information that your audience is really looking for. There are many ways of creating a content website that offers people with a lot of information yet also makes a profit.
In fact, this type of website tends to be the most effective at making money.
The reason for this is that having a lot of content keeps people coming back to your website and it keeps them interested in what you have to say.
If you develop a site that places its focus strongly on its audience, then you can end up with a site that has a very loyal audience and also ranks well in Google. This provides a platform for building a highly successful business.
After all, many people are online looking for solutions to problems, and if you are offering these solutions you really are serving your audience.
Engaging your audience is relevant for ranking your website and for keeping people visiting it.
As I mentioned before, one part of this is letting your own voice shine through in the content that you are creating, a process that makes the content more interesting and unique.
Another way of engaging the audience is to make the content about them.
A powerful tool for doing this is the word ‘you’.
For example, if I was writing content about taking photos on a holiday, I could say something like:
This type of writing offers no connection between the reader and the content. It doesn’t really stir emotions and it certainly doesn’t make your reader engaged. In contrast, the approach below is often more effective:
The content of the two pieces of writing is almost the same, but by using the term ‘you’, the second piece is more engaging. With the second piece, you can imagine yourself as the person holding the camera and that’s an important change.
If you can write content in a way that makes readers picture themselves doing what you are talking about – then you are half way to a sale already.
Additionally, you end up with an audience that is engaged in your topic and more interested overall.
You can also foster audience engagement through comments sections.
A fantastic way of doing this is to ask your audience for specific opinions in the comments.
For example, I might ask readers of this article what they think the three most important things are about content.
In this article, I have touched on a lot of different aspects of content and creating a content website, but everyone has different priorities.
It would be interesting to know how these priorities differ.
By asking people for their opinion on something, you get them thinking about the topic and how they feel about it.
Some of them actually will leave comments, which opens up the floor for discussion.
Comments sections can end up being quite lively places and this works well for you.
It’s a good practice to always stay engaged in your comments section, approving and replying to comments whenever you can and encouraging conversation.
An engaged audience is one that cares about your topic and about your site.
If you can keep your audience engaged, you will keep them coming back to your site, which is important for your overall success.
Content is one of the most important parts of any website and it can seem very complex.
In this article, I’ve spent a lot of time going over some of the main things to consider when creating a content website, including types of websites, writing good content, the role of website design and the importance of engaging your audience.
All of these things play a role in making websites successful and in getting the most value out of your content.
More than anything else, it’s important simply to take the time and focus on getting your content right and making sure that it is relevant for your site and for your audience.
Good quality content and a well-designed site are things that really make a website successful, and it is very hard to be successful online without taking the time to get this right.
A good place to get some practice and feedback about your content is Wealthy Affiliate. This site teaches people everything they need to know about making money online. At the same time, the site has a very active community. That community can be amazing if you’re looking for feedback or if you simply have questions.
You can even make and post blogs and training on the site. This can be a good way of seeing how people respond to your writing before you actually publish on your website.