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How Do You Define ‘Great Content’?

Posted By Darren Rowse 12th of September 2008 Reader Questions 0 Comments

Blogging advice articles all seems to include the matra – “create great content”. The theory goes that if you create great content people will come to your blog, link to it, pass it on to friends, bookmark it and your blog will grow.

OK – we’ve heard the ‘write great content’ thing over and over again.

But what is this ‘great content’ thing that we talk about? How do you define it (or can you at all)?

What is Great Content?

I’m interested in how you’d answer this question. Looking forward to seeing what discussion emerges. Feel free to answer as a comment below of if you want to take it up as a post on your blog – please leave a link in comments so we can track what everyone is writing.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • I would say that good content is one we have live through. It’s not enough to amass info, or to put forward interesting ideas.

    I think a post only has power when we have put an idea or an experience to the test – in our own life. Then writing becomes an interesting interaction where the idea and our life collide and in the process bring forth something genuinely new.

  • There are different types of great content which depend on the focus of the blog.

    For my blog a large part of the content is based on original R&D work that I have done. So to a large extent my definition of great content is materiel that no-one else in the world could have written.

  • For me, writing ‘great content’ is expressing myself in a way that truly captures the essence of what I’m trying to say. If I’m true to myself, I will be genuine. If I express the essence of my thoughts, I WILL be writing great content.

    I’m blogging because I believe that the perfect form, the ‘great content’, is contained within the solid block of granite that is my WordPress editor. My job is to free my thoughts, to express them through my craft, and let that artistic expression, whatever it might be, loose on the world. it’s why we all blog. Right?

  • What is great content?

    Well, I can’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you what it makes me do and how it makes me feel! It makes me want to better person. It glues me to my RSS reader in hopes of a new post popping up from that writer. It gives me hope. It gives me confidence. It informs me. It enlightens me. It changes my point of view. It makes me laugh. It makes me sympathize. It puts me into action. It makes me ponder. It makes me feel alive.

    It evokes emotion!

  • Great content… wish I had some on my blog! While good quality posts are important, sadly much more is needed to actually get readers ie commenting on other blogs etc

    hmph… what do i know?

  • The sum is more than the parts.

    Here’s my first response

  • I like content with emotional impact, something personal, a story shared – as someone else said, funny is always a treat too.

    Useful content is great of course, especially “how to” content without any hype!

  • TTS

    I’m new to blogging – about 10 days or so – but I think great content is first of all relevant to the reader. I think it should also be helpful, timely and well written. Tutorials seem to get a significant portion of my reading time these days.

    I also find myself enjoying blogs that include a good bit of sarcasm as well – especially if it is often pointed back at the author!

  • When I can recognize that the writer has invested themselves, their passion, and their knowledge to create the words on the page/screen, when I am motivated to act on what I have read, when I have an emotional response to what I’ve read, when I am compelled to share the article with someone else, or when reading and absorbing is effortless but not brainless, then I have read good content. If one work can do all of these things, it is great content.

    I try to write good content for my blog and perhaps occasionally hit on greatness (or at least I’m working toward it). However, different things inspire different readers to action or reaction so I try to write in a way that inspires myself with hope that it will do so for others. I do take into consideration what my readers want and especially questions that they have, however, I try to focus on writing “for me” in a sense so that I can continue to produce good content. I can usually see through someone who is just writing something because they think it is what the reader wants, and I think my readers can too.

  • Daniele

    Great content is unique, interesting, original content.

  • “great content” is original content, and not the crap that passes for “blogging” these days. great content is not simply giving one’s opinion about what other people are doing. great content is also not all about the blog itself. great content is about what _you_ are doing and why.

  • GREAT CONTENT is when someone blogs not just for the heck of having a blog. When a writer has something substantial to say. Something of value to the readers. Many a blogger writes as if the world is centered upon them-that the readers had to endure all the angst, and anger, and all the attitude projected on their posts.

    AFTER reading a post with great content, you feel good and is encouraged to take a positive step towards something. Every writer should ask one’s self what would his writings profit others.

  • It’s either funny or valuable for practical usage or both, not intended to reach digg’s front page and not about sarah pallin.

  • This is my final answer:

  • Great content is easy to read, easy to understand, straight to the point, unique and accurate.

  • Great content is
    1. helpful
    2. comes from the heart
    3. has no fluff

    That’s what has got me this far in blogging. Anything other than that meets the delete button.

  • There are several ways that I would define great content.

    1. Fulfills a specific need that a person was searching for by providing practical information and advice

    2. Answers a question that a person didn’t know they had or provides advice that a person didn’t know they needed (these are good but hard to promote since people don’t know they want them until they find them).

    3. Not derivative, if you have nothing new to say as compared to all the other posts on the topic, then don’t say it at all (i.e. don’t write another post on how to get stumbleupon traffic unless you really can offer new insight)

    It doesn’t have to be funny or controversial although it certainly can be as long as it fits one or more of the above criteria.

    Just my take on it.

  • Great content is being yourself. When you are being yourself your content flows out of you naturally and your views and opinions are obvious. These opinions may spark positive or negative feelings. Either way you win because this will promote your readers to leave comments.

    I just wrote an article where I call out the classic IT Guy for who he is and shoot it straight from the hip:

  • Great content has to be useful to the reader you are targeting. It should speak to them, clearly so they can understand. Of course, great content is also going to depend on the website/blog and purpose it is to serve. In some cases it should be as short as it can possibly be without compromising the goal of the copy. In other cases, not so. Sometimes it should be conversational and friendly, while other times it should be more subjective and neutral.

    Really, it comes down to what kind of content it is supposed to be, and what the main purpose of that copy is.

  • Pat

    I define great content by two key criteria:

    1. It fulfills a need.

    This means you write to your audience, and always ask ‘How will my post be useful to my intended audience?’. I feel you should always be writing from their perspective, as that is the only way you will have people read you.

    2. It is easily digestible. This can include many things – grammar, spelling, format, use of different media such as images, video and podcasts, and style of writing.

    Alot of this here was covered in your ‘polish your posts’ articles. Since reading them I focused on making my posts much more polished by making use of good local photographers on Flikr who I contacted, and my blog’s quality has definitely increased recently.

    There’s a lot of detail that can be provided but in my mind it boils down to these two things – solving a need, and communicating your solution.

  • For me, great content will……
    – move me to bookmark the site
    – linger
    – leave a positive feeling
    – want to go back and read again and again
    – will leave me thinking “why didn’t I think of that”

  • I don’t mind a bit of fluff as long as the content is good. By good, I mean it is useful or give entertainment value.

    If the post is to ask me to subscribe to the RSS feed, of course, the article should give me a very good reason to add it to my long list of RSS feed.

  • Anything that can help readers in these three areas should be classified as great content:

    1. Save time
    2. Save money
    3. Earn money

    Entertainment value is bonus but not required, unless it’s an entertainment or opinion article.

    Those three are what I believe to be the core.

    To dress the content up into something sticky, here are some factors the great content should have.

    1. Simple
    2. Unexpected – story with a twist
    3. Concrete – with examples
    4. Credible – someone of authority said it
    5. Emotional – must pull the heart strings of people
    6. Story – there must be a story behind

    These 6 factors are from the book “Made to stick”

  • Great content is relative! That is content is ‘reader’ or traffic-specific.

    People are always writing Great content. And people are always writing content that is not RELEVANT or Great.

    Content is great when it does a couple of things;

    1. satisfies a need
    2. imparts relevant or useful information
    3. educates, teaches how to do something
    4. appropriate to a particular situation or need
    5. triggers a positive response or action
    6. resonates with readers
    7. entertaining and fun

    Content is not ‘great’ when it does not do all or some of the above. By no means is the list above exhaustive. However for content to be great, it needs to fit in with the ‘needs’ of readers and create value for them.

    One can write content which can be considered ‘great’ by a specific reader or groups of readers, but is at the same time of little or no value to other readers.

    Format: great content need not be detailed or brief. However, it should have some of the following features;

    1. well-written
    2. good grammar; devoid of spelling errors
    3. good spacing, strategic use of lists or bullet points
    4. effective use of paragraphs to isolate and emphasize key points
    5. prudent use of images

    There are a host of other techniques (some posted by other bloggers already) which can make content great. And relevant.

    An example of great content is this particular blog in which you ask for comments about great blog content given the fact that content is the ‘Mother of all traffic drivers’.

    This blog has stoked and will stoke a mighty response from several bloggers because you have touched a ‘blogging-nerve’.

    I regard your video blog on ‘Watching grass grow’ – maybe I have the title wrong – as one of the best pieces of blog content and information I have ever consumed. Why? Simple; it touches upon a key point in life.

    Watching grass grow requires patience, nurturing and hopeful expectation that, that which one has and is investing continuous effort into will yield fruit.

    Patience and persistence as captured in your video-blog are the keys to a successful venture and to a successful LIFE. And that video-blog was GREAT content.

    My blog is not ready yet; I am putting things in place; actual live-launch will be close to the end of this month.

  • I wrote an article about this one not too long ago –

    To sum it up:
    “Quality content is the stuff that people are looking for to satisfy a need or desire. It is what people find useful, informative, or entertaining. It’s what makes them want to return to a website in search of more content, or even subscribe to RSS feeds. It is what people find to be valuable.”

  • I can tell you what great content ISN’T: it isn’t the same stuff, spewed out over and over again, with no fresh ideas, merely for the sake of posting. I’ve blogged about this recently… hmm… sound familiar?

  • Darren, Here’s the post you were asking for the link to.


  • Great writing keeps the reader on the edge of his seats. Informs the reader of ideas they may have known little or nothing about and leaves them wanting more. Find an interesting, new topic, or simply a new spin on a topic and go from there. Give the reader something that will make them want to read the rest of your articles. Find a way to do that and you will be in good shape.

  • Great content is when you tell and amazing story or when you give people a great technical advice nobody else know.

  • Of course great content inspires the reader. Great content provides a real exchange of value… one comes away with a sense that there was a connection…something gained by the exchange of ideas… nothing new here but the medium.

  • Great content is what you quote or link to without expecting anything in return.

  • Content that achieves the goal that you want it to achieve when you write it. The goal may be to engage and entertain readers or it may be to bore the reader so much that they find clicking on an ad more interesting. The important thing is that each post achieves the goal that you want. That’s what makes it great.

  • Pat

    @ Elizabeth. I somewhat disagree with the posts you linked to, since I am a new reader here and appreciative being able to contribute to discussions relevant to me that didn’t happen 3 years ago.

    So we come back again to fulfilling a need. Some readers have the need to receive content at certain times, and their need may be time-dependent – they need to see it dsicussed now.

  • For me -Great Content means a content which is unique and well presented – The things you are talking about has been never said before. Impressive, Inspirational and origanal and not a copy of already written scripts.

  • Great content changes lives.

  • The writer should know what they are talking (writing) about and the knowledge should come from (at least some) practical experience. Specific experience, that addresses or discusses a specific topic in a way that will be of help to people, put to paper and done well … is great content.

    “write things worth reading, or do things worth writing”

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

  • Actually, I am one of those sites looking for great content and some of the responses below can be added on my site if you wish. In fact, I invite all bloggers of all topics to my new site started this month to post lists of information that are short, to the point, and best of all give YOU the blogger the opportunity to promote your blog or website for free as a thank you. Blog now at showmealistof dot com. I’ve started it, now you can help build its content.

  • When we say that content is great, it can also be treated as a king. This is the analogy I tried to apply when I made a post to answer your question, Darren. When to say that Content is King. But to give you ideas on what is inside, here are my thoughts.

    1.0 It is powerful.
    2.0 It is invincible.
    3.0 It gains a lot of respect.
    4.0 It can rule a kingdom.


  • Great content is definitely key and what I personally view as great content is anything that I can relate to or enjoy reading. It’s different with anyone, so when finding a niche to write a blog about, you should surely see that there is a market for it, especially if you would like to gain readers who can relate to it or at the very least be introduced to something that they will eventually be interested in. Great content sparks interests as well as conversation.

  • As a writer, I am drawn to blogs with good writing that is succinct and catchy. Of course grammatically, it has to be correct and nothing is more tedious than never-ending sentences with no punctuation. Humour always works!
    Content is subjective as what may be interesting to me may be boring to others. I guess the universal themes of money, business and sex has its fair share of fans.

  • Great content is well suited to your blog’s target audience; in subject matter and through the use of appropriate language.

    Great content is engaging, informative, concise, and well editied to ensure that it is error-free.

    Passion, creativity and credibility are also key elements of great blog content.

  • Good content is content that truly inspires. GREAT content inspires someone to act! One may act by beginning to track your site, tell others, be curious enough to study out a subject more, perhaps even continue the topic in a post of their own (and hopefully quote from you and add a link!).

    Just as “charity” is having love so true as to elicit action, GREAT content should elicit action, of some sort.

  • Great content solves a problem.

    People read blogs (or consume any other content) for a purpose – it could be to be entertained, to learn or to be inspired. The flip side of those purposes are ‘problems’ – ‘I need a giggle’, ‘I’m not getting the best results from my x’, or ‘I’m feeling uninspired’.

    Great content fills those need and so starts with understanding what the reader is actually looking for – and then serves it up.

  • Great content is great art–it cannot be reduced to a formula.

  • After reading a few comments I find it funny how some people think “good writing” has to be world changing. “When your words touch somebody’s soul.” Whatever man, clam down Cyrano. So my story about almost burning the house down while making Pop-tarts isn’t good? I don’t just write about my incompetence but it’s unfair for my blog to be ruled out because I’m not trying to change the world.

    Blogging is like comedy. Many comedians look down on physical comics and I’m not a big fan of physical comedy but sometimes it’s funny when Chris Farley jumps out a window or a dude gets kicked in the balls. These comics view physical comedy as childish and they prefer to be witty because they are sooo grown up but to me funny is funny. Physical comedy isn’t my bag and I would never do it but I do enjoy it, I’m not above it.

    To me “good writing” is anything I don’t regret spending my time to read.


  • For me, great content is finding an interesting subject, and writing about it in a way that hasn’t been done before.

    Structure, presentation and actual writing skills are all important, but I reckon it’s putting a personal spin on an already strong subject that defines great content.

  • Mmmm! This is quite challenging. Especially after reading what Mike Smith had to say (incidentally, the link to his site wouldn’t work for me so I was unable to read his blog about burning the house down). I was asked, sometime ago, what drives me. It took me sometime to answer and, in the end, I decided that the conclusions I reached summed up my ‘brand’ – so I put them on the Welcome Page of my website. In essence, they were exactly what Mike Smith was complaining about. i.e. content which changes people’s perspective on life.

    And I have to agree with him. At least in part. Good content is something which, as an author, I’m concerned about. I don’t always achieve it in my blog because of the time constraints. But I think I would define good content as something which engages people. After all, a good belly laugh (which I blogged about yesterday) can be ‘life-changing’ for anyone – at least for a moment, when it’s uplifting. Equally, my bereavement poem (an excerpt from my latest book, which recently ranked No. 1 in Google searches and continues to be in the top ten) engages people – but in a different way.

    Isn’t this what ‘successful’ blogging is all about? Trying to reach out and ‘engage’ with other human beings in the same way that you would if meeting them face to face? Perhaps we ought all to ask what it is about other people’s content that engages us?

  • Serge

    Great content is what I go through my browser cache to re-locate.
    Therefore, it’s something that is memorable, which may not immediately appear useful or relevant.

  • It’s when you write about something you like and know well, without imagining that everyone likes it; it’s about sharing the information and passing the thrill to the readers without assuming that they have more (or less) mental capacity to grasp it. In essence, respect the reader and share things about what you know the best.

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