Saturday, April 30, 2005

18 Characteristics of Good Blog Content

how does your blog measure up? Posted by Hello

[NOTE: This is a significantly modified version of an article that originally appeared at my Vaspers the Grate site, entitled "Characteristics of Web Site Content". The information has been altered, where appropriate, to accommodate blogs more specifically, and to reflect newer blogological insights I have gained.]

I recently conducted a survey of web developers on what they considered important for web site success.

One of the items mentioned was content.

In fact, many web professionals say: "Content is king."

I wonder.

If content is indeed king, it should be enthroned with regal dignity and royal embellishments.

You see, blog content depends first on identifying both corporate or personal blogging goals and user needs.

A blog's success also depends on how the content is derived, verified, and presented.

Here's a list of 18 essential aspects of blog content...and they all start with "R".

Aren't I clever? ...or just too avant garde for my own good?

Gentle reader, you decide.

I've taken the liberty of using a few unusual "R" words just to make it slightly humorous, vaguely memorable, and mildly thought-provoking.

18 "R"s of High Quality
Blog Content

(1) Radiant: Immediate visual impression of credibility, authority, and propriety via color, design, typography, logo, and upfront corporate or personal identification.

(2) Relevant: Having an obvious pertinence, appropriateness, application, or affinity with the topic at hand. Not trying to be all things to all readers. Not wandering off into muliple tangents or side issues.

(3) Rare: Unique, idiosyncratic, not redundant, not commonly found, in this form, or with this degree of completeness, in other information resources.

Except in the case of strict "link blogs" (like Robot Wisdom, for a nice example), your personal commentary, analysis, or opinion is included to make your blog more interesting and appealing.

(4) Rich: Loads of good stuff for users to enjoy, absorb, and ponder, rather than meager, mediocre, same-o same-o offerings that aren't worth waiting for the site to download into the browser.

(5) Radical: Beyond platitudes, pleasantries and proverbs--provide your blog readers with fresh thinking that challenges pre-conceived, outmoded, or erroneous (but popular) notions.

Dare to be Different. Question both authority and anarchy. Challenge your own beliefs. Read contrary opinions, that contradict your point of view, to determine if there just might be some value in them.

(6) Rapacious: Investigating, exploring, accumulating, and stockpiling all the information that is known to be available on a topic.

Then differentiating what is useful and desired by the target audience, and providing summaries, paraphrases, quotations (with permission from the sources, where required), links, or other means of dissemination.

(7) Recrudescent ("breaking out afresh, renewed action"): Providing your blog readers with facts that are emerging in various locations and scenarios, but have largely gone unnoticed by other bloggers.

(8) Rectilinear ("characterized by straight lines"): Driving right to the heart of the matter, no lengthy digressions, irrelevant filler, or off-topic meandering.

Pointing your audience directly (via links, URLs) to the most authoritative, credible, or interesting material...rather to more secondary sources.

(9) Resolute: Firm in purpose, exhibiting confident clarity, and presented aggressively or creatively to be more memorable and persuasive.

(10) Recondite ("beyond ordinary perception, profound, dealing with complex or obscure subjects"): Sublime, extraordinary, "Eureka!" type insights that contain the solution for obstinate or pervasive problems.

(11) Repositorial: Your blog is considered to be a dependable repository, reservoir, or collection of all necessary facts...

...or contains references to the major resources dealing with the subject, obviating the need for your readers to bounce all over the web, hunting down the relevant data.

(12) Realistic: Rational, pragmatic, capable of immediate application to actual situations, not overly theoretical, hypothetical, utopian, fanciful, or abstract.

(13) Reverberant ("to re-echo"): Your blog's content reflects your blogging goals and the needs of your audience. Be sure your goals and your audience's needs are clearly and comprehensively understood and defined.

(14) Refluent ("flowing back, as an ebbing tide"): Has links back to source or substantiating material.

If you mention other blogs, be sure to provide direct links to them. And if you refer to a specific post in another blog, or information at a web site, provide a "deep link" that takes the reader directly to that specific item.

"Shallow linking" that merely takes the reader to the main page of the other blog or web site can be very frustrating. Sometimes it is difficult to locate the information, especially if the other site has less than ideal information architecture, no site search, or poorly categorized archives.

(15) Refrangible ("can be refracted, bent, as light rays entering a glass"): The information in the blog is capable of being "tilted" toward differing conditions, flexible in implementation, not rigidly relevant to a severely limited range of applications.

For example, this list of aspects of good blog content can be relevant to personal blogs, CEO blogs, business blogs, academic blogs, military blogs, marketing blogs, just about any type of blog, wiki, or web site.

(16) Remonstrative ("pleading in protest or rational complaint, maintaining a reasonable opposition toward something"): As demanded by the situation, is not shy or timid about protesting what you consider, in good conscience, to be wrong, insincere, unethical, morally corrupt, unprofessional, or factually incorrect.

(17) Retrievable: Easily searchable via main body content heads and subdivisions, "site search" text entry box, and clearly and logically categorized archives.

(18) Responsive: Your blog, filled as it is with such great content that fulfills the above 17 criteria, is nonetheless still open to user-generated, client-mandated, or corporate-dictated corrections, elucidations, critiques, revisions, amplifications, alterations, and questions.

YOUR TURN: If you feel I have overlooked a vital characteristic of effective and valuable blog content, please leave a comment.

Don't worry about whether or not the characteristic starts with an "R". I can think of an "R" word to apply to it, probably.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


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