The work you do in the next two weeks on your site will be the most important two weeks of your site’s existence. Period.
In the next two weeks I would like you to focus all of your attention on making your site as helpful to others as possible. Create the evergreen parts of your website–the core content that visitors to your site come to find.
Want an example of what that core content would look like? This tutorial! You came to this site to learn how to make money online, and I’m holding your hand and walking you through it in the simplest and most helpful way I know how. I have many many other articles on this site, but their purpose is really just to attract new users and help them find their way to this tutorial.
How can I make my site surprisingly helpful?
I’m glad you asked. If I could pinpoint one single reason that most blogs fail, it would probably be that their sites are only minimally helpful. (As a side note, the second reason would be not publishing enough content).
Last month I was in the market for a new bow and arrow (I’m slightly addicted to archery). Naturally, I spent some time on Google to help me with the purchasing decision. I actually looked back and checked my Google history to see what I searched for. Pay careful attention to the process I went through…
- My first search was “Best compound bow.” The results were outdated, so I searched again.
- “Best compound bow 2014” was my next search. This brought a flurry of results, but they were all still outdated and nearly all of the results were Youtube videos or individual post reviews of a single bow. I didn’t want to read 100 bow reviews and then try to decide which review was most positive. I wanted to find someone who had tried all of the current bows and could give me the low down.
- My next search? Archery shops in Caldwell, Idaho. No website gave me what I wanted, so they all lost a potential new fan.
See what happened? I looked for the information and nobody gave it to me. Yes, they had the right keywords “Bow reviews” but it was NOT what I wanted. I wanted someone to solve my problem–not match my keywords.
I was a hot lead for a blogger. Anyone in the archery industry (including the bow makers themselves) could have easily converted me to being their fan if they had solved my problem–but all they did was spew content at me.
So how can site owners change this experience?
Now suppose you want to become a photographer and you want to buy a camera. You want to buy the best camera that fits in your budget. If I am fortunate enough to get you to come to my site, I want to be certain your experience is as perfect as possible.
I know you don’t want to read 1,000 reviews, but you do want to feel confident that you’re getting the best camera you can afford. The good news? I attend the trade shows, I eat, sleep, and breathe photography. I have personally used just about every camera currently in production and know all their quirks.
If someone comes to my site, I want them to get precisely what they are looking for, so I created this page: http://improvephotography.com/gear/
If someone goes there, I show them the best cameras for their money at a variety of different price points, then I’ll walk them through purchasing accessories like a tripod, filters, lenses, etc. Then, they get their gear and they want to know how to use it. For that, I created a full-length tutorial showing them precisely how to get started in photography.
People often ask me how to grow their social media fans and email subscriber lists. My answer? Your site isn’t helpful enough. If it were surprisingly helpful, you wouldn’t have to think of “tricks” to get them to like your page. While my photography website is far from perfect and I still have a lot to learn, it is growing by over 1,000 new subscribers a DAY! And that’s not from contests, tricky seo mojo, etc. It’s good old-fashioned helpfulness.
Good examples, but can you break it down for me?
If your best friend called you and asked you to teach them about the topic of your website, would you spew random tips and endless random product reviews at them? Of course not! You’d sit them down at the kitchen table and give them all the need-to-know information in the simplest way possible.
Recreate that experience on a website, and you have a surprisingly helpful site.
Take all the information that you would put in an eBook in an organized and simple format on your your new site.
Five Ways to Make Your Site Surprisingly Helpful
1. Create cornerstone tutorials
Ditch the eBook. Many internet marketers take their best content, slap it in an eBook, and then hold it hostage from site visitors until they give up their email address. Ugh! WHY would someone sign up for your email list if you haven’t shown them the goods yet? After you show them how surprisingly helpful you are, it’ll be an easy sell to get them to like your page.
2. Make your site easy to navigate
Please, please, please do not get creative with the design of your website. I cannot tell you how many sites I have visited in just the last month that probably had the information I wanted, but the site was so cluttered and complicated that I chose not to spend the time to find it.
I highly recommend choosing a nice-looking but simple WordPress theme like Headlines from Woothemes or the default 2014 WordPress theme. Do not make your site fancy–make it look easy to find the information.
3. Include a recommended setup page–always
No matter what industry you are in, chances are that users of your site will have some interest in getting set up with gear or purchases. In my experience, a page that shows in a clear way what gear or setup you have is one of the most highly trafficked pages on a website. An excellent example of this is the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide, which shows visitors in an instant whether a particular Apple device is a good buy right now or if it is likely to be updated soon.
If you have a website about home schooling, then include a page with the best resources you’ve found for teaching and educating kids–including tablets, websites, books, companies, etc.
If you have a site that teaches people how to coach youth basketball, then include a page showing the the best ball for youth sports, the best training equipment, the best books, etc.
If you have a site that supports mothers who have lost a child, then include a page with your very best articles, a few good books, etc.
Whatever niche you choose to make a site about, there will be products or resources that will be most useful to your visitors. Include them in a single useful page of your site and make sure it’s easy to find. The recommended setup page basically does two things for you (1) It makes site visitors feel like that found precisely what they were looking for which makes your site more useful, and (2) It is a GREAT way to earn extra money for your site through affiliate marketing (affiliate marketing means sending people to buy someone else’s product who gives you a commission for sending the buyer. I use it a lot, so I’ll explain how to get set up with this in step 9).
4. Add length to your posts
I will admit right from the beginning that this may not be true for all sites, but it has worked tremendously well for me. Want to see my first blog post ever? Here it is–and it’s terrible. The problem with the post is that it only includes one little tip, and it’s not even that creative of a tip. How is a little dinky blog post like that supposed to grow my site? Nobody would share one tiny little tip when there are loads of other blogs sharing posts with “101 PhotoWalk Tips” and “21 Inspiring Photos Taken on a Photo Walk” and “15 Super Creative Photo Walk Tips.” With that competition, your blog post is useless.
The average word count of my top five most popular blog posts of all time is between 2,000 and 3,000 words per article (approximately 3 single-spaced pages). You may think that people wouldn’t want to read something that long, but at least in my experience, they do!
Obviously, don’t write long articles for the sake of having a long article. Nobody wants to read something in 3 pages that they could have read in 1. The real point is to research and really think through a topic fully. Think of every tiny little tip you can think of on the topic, and then distill it down to a blog post that is packed with information.
5. Consider different types of media
Suppose you are a youth soccer coach and you want to look up ideas for drills at practice. If you Google “Soccer training drills,” what would be your dream search result? How could one of those websites really knock your socks off?
To start with, it should definitely have a good number of really creative and effective drills. A list of 15 or so would be a minimum.
But it would also be nice if it had pictures so you could more easily see how to set up the drill.
Oh! And wouldn’t it be cool if the site also had a video showing each of the drills with proper form so I can teach it to my team?
OOOOOOH! And it would be really cool if they also had a PDF of the blog post available for me to download for free. Then I could have it handy on my smartphone during practice so I don’t forget the ones I looked up.
Get the idea? One way you can really surprise your visitors with the helpfulness of your site is to include other types of media to make your posts more useful. One really simple way to do that is to embed a Youtube video into your blog post–even if it’s just a video from someone else that is on topic. Here is an example of a PDF that I included in a cornerstone content article that has been really well-received by visitors to my site.
Let’s move on…
Feel like your site is surprisingly useful, and ready to move on to step four? You know the drill by now. Focus all that attention on the little green button below to continue 🙂