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Keep It Sticky: A Meditation on Why Content Matters

Chances are, when somebody chooses to visit your website it isn’t the cool font style or pastel backgrounds or brambly margin designs that keeps them browsing. It’s probably your website’s “content,” the textual or visual matter that conveys the message you intend to impart. calls it the “’glue’ that makes a website ‘sticky’ and makes visitors return and keeps them from leaving.”
So you can play with mathematical models all you want, deploy algorithms to reach the right people, sprinkle the site with all the relevant key words and phrases — but if you don’t have “sticky” content, your website will continue to be pale and lackluster.
“Content is king,” is the mantra frequently chanted by content marketers.
A few words, then, about good content:

Be accurate

You message may be engaging, but if you don’t get the little things right your credibility will be undermined. Without credibility, would-be followers will soon say there’s no reason to go there. Aside from the obvious elements, such as addresses, phone numbers, spec details and catalog entries, accuracy should also apply to spelling and grammar. If a message-bearer can’t speak English well, he’ll probably get other things wrong.

Be concise

Keep to the point. Don’t wander around verbally like you’re lost in the woods, tossing out five dollar words. Good copy should be snappy and crisp. Never say in 20 words what you can say in 10. You don’t want to make too many demands on the attention of visitors to the site, like the boring, tipsy party guest who prattles on and on. Make it reader friendly.

Be entertaining

Here’s where a little talent comes in. Try to have your content tell a story, even if it’s just some passing details about what makes the site special. Without getting carried away, make your content personal, with anecdotes or characters that readers can relate to. Don’t pontificate.

Write attention-grabbing headlines

The first thing a reader sees is the headline. It’s usually the deciding factor in whether or not the reader reads on. Four out of five people will read the headline but only one out of five will read the story. So make the header catchy or provocative or funny. Don’t make it lurid or inaccurate just to attract readers.

Make your content original

Your site can offer aggregated content or curated content. The first is easy. Just set up a Google Alert and, when relevant material pops up, paste it into your website. Your aggregated site becomes a source for every entry that combines, say, Machu Picchu and hiking boots. No muss, no fuss. Turn it all over to a search engine.
But web browsers tend to lose interest in sites that seem to be providing boilerplate text culled from boilerplate sites. Why not offer something original? This can mean something as simple as taking the entries from the Google Alert and adding a comment or a headline.
Or maybe you have something original to say.
Remember, you may have your target audience clearly identified and your strategy for reaching them ingeniously crafted. But if the content you deliver is anemic, your campaign will fade away.

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