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Want to Create Great Content? Don’t Miss These 4 Ingredients

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Want to Create Great Content? Don't Miss These 4 IngredientsThis week, I’ve been writing about great content.

That’s right, not all content is created equal and, while it’s true that the more you publish online, the more traffic you’ll drive to your website, if the content your visitors find on your site is not great then they will just turn around and leave.

People buy from businesses that they trust.
You see, one of the main goals of content marketing is to build trust. Why? Because people buy from businesses that they trust. Conversely, if they don’t trust a business, the less likely they are to buy from it.

How does content marketing help? By providing useful and actionable information that helps your website visitors achieve a goal. That goal can range from learning about certain products and services to making a buying decision to how to care for a product after it’s purchased.

The more you help your visitors, the more they will trust you and the more they trust you, the more likely they are to buy from you.

Putting Listick on a PigPutting Lipstick on a Pig

Unfortunately, awful content is often published “in disguise”.

You see, content consists of three parts:

  1. The topic (what the content is about),
  2. The information (the content’s actual text, images, videos, audio, etc.), and
  3. The design (how the content is presented).
Most poor content falls short in the “Information” part.

Each of these parts needs to shine in order to create great content however, it’s typically the second part, “The information” where a lot of poor content falls short.

Here’s how it happens:

  1. The content creator spends time researching topics that interest their target customers. This can include many market research sources ranging from keyword and search history to something as simple as asking website visitors what they want.
  2. Based on the topic, some high-level content is slapped together with minimal research.
  3. Lastly, the content creator spends time and effort creating content that presents well whether it’s text, images, video or audio.
Does that kind of content build trust? No siree, it does not.

The result? Awesome looking website content that seems interesting at first glance, but falls short in helping website visitors achieve a goal.

Does that kind of content build trust? No siree, it does not.

The “Missing Ingredients” of Great Content

So, where does poor content fall short? Below I’ve detailed the four “missing ingredients” which, if missing, turn great content into poor content.

Non-actionable content is hard to use.
  • It’s not actionable - the greatest fault of poor content by far is non-actionable information (i.e generic content that does not tell you how to put what you’ve learned to use).
    • For example: a blog post that espouses the benefits of using Facebook to extend the reach of your content and engage customers without detailing any of the steps you need to take to use Facebook to achieve those goals.
If content is not at the right level of detail, it will not be helpful.
  • It’s not specific enough or it’s too specific - going hand-in-hand with being actionable, if content is not at the right level of detail for the target audience, it will fail to be helpful.
    • For example: if the target audience is folks who already know lots about Facebook, then telling them how to create a fan page is probably to basic for them to find useful.
    • For example: however, if the target audience is folks who are Facebook newbies, then explaining how, and why, to build a fan page is right on target.
If content is full of unsupported information, it will fail to build trust.
  • It’s not credible - if content is full of unsupported information, then it will fail to build the trust that you need to sell your products and services.
    • All factual claims need to be backed-up by supporting evidence even if it’s just a link to the spot online where you found the information.
When content is written for search engines, it can be less useful for people.
  • It’s not “human-friendly” – all too often, content creators create content to fit search engine optimization (SEO) criteria. In other words, their content is aimed at search engines, not humans. This leads to forced and awkward content that is just not as clear and useful as it could be.
    • The good news is that search engines, especially Google, continually strive to make their software as close to “human” as possible. In other words, they want their software to evaluate content the same way a human does. Therefore, if you write clearly and usefully for humans, the search engines should reward you with higher marks as well.

What Do You Think?

What do you think makes great content? Where do you see content creators fail most often?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  1. Great piece, Matt.

    The four points you shared are definitely spot on, especially about the content being actionable. That’s the biggest thing to me. I love reading content that is actionable and shows me the “how” to do something rather than the “why”.

    This is exactly why I make it a point for all of my content to be actionable; I want to make sure that my reader has a full understand of what and how to do something and not leave them guessing.

    Thanks for sharing your insights with us.


    • Thanks Ti!

      Glad you’re an “actionable” loving person, too! I’m a doer so I like content that helps me know what to do with examples and advice that I can use right away.

      The key is to be useful quickly – something that my busy readers really like.


  2. Nice article Matt. You hit on the major points but I also think there has to be something in the content that draws you in. This is particularly true for skimmers. Being one, if something doesn’t grab me that is different I am not going to really read the content. For example your piece here, its a good skimming piece but “Lipstick on a Pig” got me to stop and really read it. Thanks.

    • Thanks Charlie – glad you enjoyed it!

      I agree that it’s important to catch someone’s eye (that’s the “design” piece of content), however, once caught you need to actually provide some value.

      If you stopped at the pig and the there was nothing relevant there, you would not have had as good of an experience.

      Bottom-line: A content’s “Information” has to keep the promise that it’s “Design” (and “Topic”) makes.


  3. In the name of SEO most bloggers create content that people cannot pleasantly read – its close to gibberish. And that takes the whole point of the content offtrack. Sadly not many bloggers realize this.

    And yes, a theory based post is far from useful. Yes it educates you on a topic but most probably tells you what you already know. You know you’re stuck and more than the “why” the “how to fix this” part will be more enticing. So content with “why” + “how” really does rock!


  1. says:

    Want to Create Great Content? Don’t Miss These 4 Ingredients…

    Want to Create Great Content? Use these 4 ingredients to take your content from “meh” to “great” and to reach your content marketing goals….

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