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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    What is "Useful Content" to You?
    After reading various posts referring to adding useful content to your site, I have been thinking about what the term actual means to me. I am curious what it means to you guys --

    Is it

    *Descriptive articles giving advice or instructions on a topic, or

    *Supplying a coupon in a certain vertical or a particular merchant, or

    *Showing price guides for an item and where to find it, or

    *Something else entirely?

    Or maybe some combination of these?


    Also, "thin affiliate" sites to me are those one-pagers with adsense and search links on them. What are they to you?


    Just curious what everyone's personal views are.

  2. #2
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    Useful? "It depends."

    My mantra is that web publishers can only profit by being "relevant and useful." Unfortunately, both relevance and usefulness are entirely audience- and context-dependent. Most important, you can't be relevant or useful to "everyone."

    Turn the question around: if someone is trying to learn about X, what kind of information would be useful to them? Obviously, they'd want to know what X is, what it does, what it costs, and how its cost and features compare to other products. Different web sites may deliver different pieces of information; probably no web site can credibly pretend to offer "all" the relevant and useful information that any consumer might want about X. Often, your content will only be "useful" to someone at one specific point in the purchase-decision process (early, middle, late). And often, your content will not be relevant to all "segments" of the audience that is searching for a keyword (some may be seeking wholesale suppliers [or may seek to sell to vendors of 'this type of product'], some may be doing research for a term paper, others may be planning to buy a product online).

    Product-comparison information is relevant to people who are early in the decision process. Price-comparison information is relevant and useful in the middle and late stages, to people who have identified a specific product and want to learn what prices are being charged by merchants. Offering a coupon fits into the "late" stage of the purchase-decision process -- once a consumer has (at least tentatively) decided to buy a particular product from a particular merchant; before that decision is made, the coupon information probably isn't very "relevant or useful" to the consumer.

    "Review" (or product-comparison, product-description) information is often relevant and useful -- but this usually isn't true if your "review" content regurgitates information that consumers already know, or doesn't reflect a genuine knowledge about the product or topic. And yet, even an article that contains no "new information" might actually say it in a way that's uniquely useful to someone who hasn't yet "absorbed" all the relevant information necessary to move forward in the purchase-decision process.

    Of course, it's possible that your content might help "bump" someone from one stage to another in the purchase-decision process (forward or backward).

    Added: FYI, I've used the term "purchase-decision process" above, because in this forum that's usually the contextual frame -- but of course there are many other contexts in which a web site might be relevant and useful, even if there is no "purchase" or perhaps even no "decision" actually contemplated.

    To me, a "thin affiliate site" is one that adds no original, relevant or useful content. The obvious example is a "template" site that displays product information from a single merchant's datafeed -- there's nothing on the page that isn't available (with equal ease-of-access) somewhere else. That doesn't mean that a "thin affiliate" site isn't relevant or useful -- indeed, it may be extremely relevant and useful to a specific consumer in a specific context -- but it's simply very unlikely that most consumers (and search engines) would consider this content to be "relevant and useful."

  3. #3
    Full Member OICUAM2's Avatar
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    There are two sides to the equation:

    Website owner - Useful content is what attracts and moves visitors along a desired path to the action goal.

    Visitor - Useful content is information or links that help them achieve what they are trying to do.

    Sometimes these goals are in conflict and sometimes they are mutually beneficial.

    Most of the scammy sites have these goal in conflict (content that is spammy towards the search engines and designed to get the visitor to go away by clicking an ad or a link)
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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Lanadili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bettylou
    After reading various posts referring to adding useful content to your site, I have been thinking about what the term actual means to me. I am curious what it means to you guys --

    Is it

    *Descriptive articles giving advice or instructions on a topic, or

    *Supplying a coupon in a certain vertical or a particular merchant, or

    *Showing price guides for an item and where to find it, or

    *Something else entirely?

    Or maybe some combination of these?
    For me, I would say all of the above, and more.

    Anything that I can think of that would help my visitors make a buying decision, I put on my site for them. I have articles, a section for coupons, I show the price, description, picture, etc of a product, and many more things that I've thought of myself. I have things on my site no other site has - which makes mine unique and very useful to my visitors.

    So to me, the meaning of useful content is providing enough information about your niche that your visitors won't feel it's necessary to keep searching for information somewhere else. This is not limited to just articles though, that is only part of it. By adding coupons to my site, this prevents my visitors from going to a coupon site looking for a deal. By adding unique scripts I can supply information that no other site has. The list goes on and on.

    I always put myself in my visitors shoes and ask what else can I do to help them. I frequent forums that talk about my niche and search for questions people might have and try to include that in my site.

    Also, "thin affiliate" sites to me are those one-pagers with adsense and search links on them. What are they to you?
    To me a "thin affiliate" site is one that doesn't provide any useful or new information to their visitors. Kinda like a datafeed site, or those one-pagers. If the site doesn't provide at least SOME type of information that is different from the merchant's site, then to me it's a thin site.

  5. #5
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    Interesting post,especially for someone new at this like me.. i like the line you wrote about posting articles,product pictures,descriptions,prices etc to keep it interesting. i came here to learn and my site needs those things. i will try to make it unique and see where it goes. So far i have a good number of visits but no sale.(it is quite new).Adwords has helped but a more organic approach would be better IMO.

  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Excellent question, and one that I think everyone should ask when they're designing their sites.

    I think many people think "articles" when they think about useful content, but I've seen TONS of articles that are nothing but useless trash.

    OICUAM2 is on the right track when he describes the difference between what a webmaster considers useful and what a visitor considers useful. I think the best definition is the intersection of those two. A win-win is always best.
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  7. #7
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    If you have what somebody was looking for when they arrived at your site/page, then that is useful content. Could be an answer to a question, information about something....

    Even just a picture of a product that says "click here to buy" is useful content if it's exactly what the visitor was looking for. Lack of "information" does not necessarily render a site "not useful"; if the site has the "thing" that the visitor was looking for, right there in their in front of their face when they've got their Visa card already pulled out of their wallet and they're just looking for a place to buy it.

    From a shopper's standpoint, if I want to buy a "light gray size 4 widget" right now, then the site that has it available for sale right now is the most useful site in the world to me. Just as often as not, shoppers already know what they want and all they care about is "is it available" and "is the price right?".
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  8. #8
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    A question that i ponder at this stage(early) with my site; clicks are coming but no conversion.maybe i am not being patient and should just sit tight and they will 'eventually" buy or i should cut down the banners and throw prices with pics of products instead of banners. Would the pics and prices be more attractive and would that be the type of content that would actually help a visitor to decide and buy.
    Could be my articles are just "trash' and what they really want is pics and prices; forget banners.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Lanadili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nakedbuyer
    A question that i ponder at this stage(early) with my site; clicks are coming but no conversion.maybe i am not being patient and should just sit tight and they will 'eventually" buy or i should cut down the banners and throw prices with pics of products instead of banners. Would the pics and prices be more attractive and would that be the type of content that would actually help a visitor to decide and buy.
    It's always best to try different things with your site until you find something that works for you. I have always found pictures of products, prices, descriptions, etc to work far better than banners. You'll never know if it works until you try, so test it out to see if it works for you or not.
    Could be my articles are just "trash' and what they really want is pics and prices; forget banners.
    Why not keep the articles and include pics and prices? Maybe even keep the banners somewhere on the page. Just do some testing to see what works best for your site.

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