Steve Pavlina has another good blog related post on How to Build a High-Traffic Web Site (or Blog) which has some sensible advice in the form of a list. His points are interesting because they are very untechnical and illustrate his own strategy (a successful one from what I can see) to focus very hard upon creating high quality content. Almost every point on his list touches on content creation as being the main focus:
1. Create valuable content.
2. Create original content.
3. Create timeless content.
4. Write for human beings first, computers second.
5. Know why you want a high-traffic site.
6. Let your audience see the real you.
7. Write what is true for you, and learn to live with the consequences.
8. Treat your visitors like real human beings.
9. Keep money in its proper place.
10. If you forget the first nine suggestions, just focus on genuinely helping people, and the rest will take care of itself.
Keep in mind that the focus us Steve’s blog is personal development and so some of these posts come out of that experience and probably relate more closely to that than for some other topics.
For instance in #3 he writes:
‘While I do occasionally write about time-bound events, the majority of my content is intended to be timeless. I’m aware that anything I write today may still be read by people even after I’m dead. People still quote Aristotle today because his ideas have timeless value, even though he’s been dead for about 2300 years. I think about how my work might influence future generations in addition to my own. What advice shall I pass on to my great grandchildren?’
I think that this is a brilliant strategy which relates very well to a topic like personal development. Many of the principles that Steve talks about are timeless as ‘being a human’ is timeless. However with some topics timeless content is more of a challenge. Writing timeless content about digital cameras can be difficult (when they are often obsolete before they hit the shops). There are some posts that are more timeless than others in that niche (ie tips on how to take a photo for example) but many posts on such a blog will be fairly time dependent.
Another example is # 4 where he writes:
‘A lot has been written about the optimal strategies for strong search engine rankings in terms of posting frequency and post length. But I largely ignore that advice because I write for human beings, not computers.’
Once again I completely agree with Steve that this is a great strategy for many blogs. Like he says there has been quite a few articles going around of late talking about how SEO is dead and a useless art for bloggers. While I agree with elements of these posts I would add that for some blogs SEO is a very worthwhile strategy. Again on the ‘personal development’ theme I suspect that readers will be looking for a longer term relationship with a web site than on some other topics. Once again I’ll talk digital cameras. While there are some avid digital imaging addicts that settle on a site and are loyal readers of it – anecdotal evidence tells me that the vast majority of web users that want information on the topic of digital cameras are looking for the information in a one off and short term burst – usually while researching a purchase for a digital camera. The first place most of them head to is the search engines. As a result on a topic like this where your goal is to give advice to those in the market for a camera, SEO is a relevant strategy. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write for humans or provide valuable content but the emphasis is slightly different. I’ve seen this personally as I look at the different strategies between my own blogs. For example while SEO is important for my Digicam site it’s nowhere near as crucial for ProBlogger which attracts repeat loyal readers due to it’s nature.
None of this is to say that any of Steve’s points are invalid or wrong – in fact his list is valuable – they just need to be taken and adapted to each blog to see which apply most and to what extent.