Most people who want websites think all their content is compelling. ”I’m putting information about myself out there, why wouldn’t everyone want to read it?”
Right. Fewer people understand what compelling content is: answers, solutions, laughs, interesting narrative…
Fewer still could actually tell you if what they have is compelling based on the user experience of their website visitors. They look at traffic to their site and names in their database and end up running faster in the same direction to try to increase results, regardless of what they are doing.
Do you know good content when you see it?
Probably not. It’s a trick question. Compelling content is in the eye of the content consumer, not the producer. Different content works for different audiences. Besides, that’s the wrong question.
Do your site users know good content when they see it?
Yes. And they’re more than happy to tell you about it. Without being asked. They vote for and against your content with their mouse every time they make a decision to either keep reading your brilliant prose, try to find what they are looking for on another page, or get so fed up that they leave your site all together.
How do my users indicate what they like?
Finally, the right question. Any analytics package will show user visits, page views, where traffic came from, etc. The key is in looking not only at the most popular content items on the site in terms of views, but which pages users actually linger on, and which pages cause users to click through to other pages on the site.
Take the CRAFT site for instance. The most popular page on the site is the home page, not surprising. The next most popular page is Brian Donahue’s bio, because, hey, that guy is popular. Are these the most compelling pages on the site? Hardly.
Digging deeper into our analytics reveals two pages in particular that ring the compelling alarm bell. Our “Thinking” and “How CRAFT is Different” pages have bounce rates of 0% — no user who has ever visited these pages has navigated away from our site without visiting another page on our site. Coupled with the large number of page views to each of these pages and the relatively average time on page users spend on each page, we can conclude that these pages as much or more than any other on our site keep users interested, satisfy their curiosity, or pique it enough to continue browsing.
Of course every page is different. If you have 50 words on a page and users spend half a minute there on average, chances are some serious pondering is going on. If users are spending those same 30 seconds on a page where your site is trying to tell a story with a 3 minute video, perhaps more content optimization is needed.
This, then, is compelling content. And here we thought it was going to be our serious mugshots…