What is Content?

What
is
Content?

Content.

You hear this buzzword all the time across marketing websites, videos, social media… you name it.

There are reams of blogs, articles, podcasts, and more that revolve around this little word. Do a quick Google search for “content” and you’ll get what I mean – it will return over 14 billion results.

 

Click over to the image results for “content”, and you’ll see what that one word encompasses:

Marketing. SEO. Infographic. Quality. Social media. Website. Email. Digital.

 

Wait – we’re not done yet.

The list goes on: Creative. Presentation. Course. Research. Original. Visual. Sponsored. Design. Facebook.

Here’s the elephant in the room: You have to know what ‘content’ is.

If you don’t know what content is in the first place, including why it’s created and who it’s intended for, this will all be gibberish to you. So, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Are you unsure of what content is? You’re on the right page.

I’m going to explain exactly what content is, what it isn’t, how businesses use it for marketing, and a few great examples. As you’re about to see, content is powerful. 👑 Perhaps more importantly, it’s the future of marketing. 🔮

The Definition of Content

“Content” is a broad term that generally refers to any type of information provided by a website. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that content is the “principal substance offered by a website.”

When you think about it, the internet IS content.

Without content, a website is nothing more than a blank space, or a placeholder. Without content, it would have no web pages, no home page, no blog, no images – nothing. ALL of that stuff is considered different types of content.

The same goes for your social media profiles, your YouTube channels, your Pinterest boards, and more. Each of these things is an empty container until you populate them with content – posts, pins, videos, images, etc.

Content = information. Information = any words, pictures, or pieces of data that convey ideas.

So, in a nutshell, in whatever form it appears, content conveys ideas.

What Are the Main Types of Content?

1. Web Pages

Web pages are a foundational type of content because they serve as the building blocks of websites. Common types of web pages include homepages, about pages, contact pages, and landing pages – all of which are considered content because they convey information to readers.

Here is an example of web page content in the form of an about page from TwelveSkip:

 

And here’s a webpage about the history of Coca-Cola:

2. Blog Posts and Articles

Blog posts and articles are familiar content types for most people. Google loves to rank comprehensive, well-written blogs for users’ search terms. You probably read blogs every day with various topic focuses, including news articles, how-to posts, guides, and more.

A few examples:

This travel guide from Architectural Digest:

 

My blog in the category of marketing about storytelling from the Write Blog:

 

This how-to blog from Gardening Know How on caring for aloe plants:

 

This news article from Search Engine Journal:

And this Wikipedia article about landing pages:

3. Ebooks, Books, and Whitepapers

These content types are perhaps the longest and most in-depth – ebooks, physical books, and whitepapers.

Books are probably the easiest content type to understand. Every type of book, no matter the genre, topic, or subject, conveys information and ideas through stories, reports, or journalism.

Ebooks are, of course, electronic versions of books. However, in the marketing world, they also refer to short PDF documents you can download to learn about a specific topic. These are usually professionally designed and can be anywhere from 3 to 50 pages long, depending on the topic.

Example:

HubSpot has a large library of ebooks and resources, including this guide to social media for business:

 

Whitepapers are very similar to ebooks because both are in-depth, but whitepapers tend to focus on presenting an industry-specific problem + a solution using facts and evidence.

4. Visual Content:
Infographics, Images, and Videos

Visual content is pretty self-explanatory, too. Photos, images, and videos all convey information or ideas in visual form.

Infographics are designed images that present information on a specific topic in a fun, easy-to-read, digestible format.

This infographic from Ann Handley and Visual.ly is a great example (see the full version here):

 

Videos are a popular content type because they’re so easy to digest (think YouTube). I post bi-weekly videos on my YouTube channel, Julia McCoy:

5. Podcasts

Podcasts are another popular form of content taking the internet by storm. They’re like radio shows for the 21st century. Every podcast covers a specific topic or method of storytelling. They’re normally presented as individual episodes grouped into seasons.

Examples:

A popular storytelling podcast: Lore.

 

For an example of a marketing podcast, I host a podcast called The Write Podcast.

6. Webinars/Presentations

Digital webinars/presentations are the final major content type. These learning sessions from top experts include audio, video, and visual components (including slides). You can attend them via live streaming and participate in the session, or you can watch recorded sessions later.

How Does Content Marketing Tie In?

Now that you know what content is, you can more easily understand content marketing.

According to CMI, it’s “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing is about creating amazing content that’s value-focused and non-promotional to win the trust and loyalty of your audience. It’s about conveying information and ideas rather than selling something.

Over time, the content you publish on your website (whether that means blogs, podcast episodes, ebooks, etc.) establishes you as an expert on your topic area. Additionally, optimizing your content for search and mapping it to search intent will help you pull in targeted traffic and leads that will have a higher chance of buying into your related business, products, or services.

The industry’s growth serves as a testament to how well it works. By 2021, the projected worth will top $412 billion, according to forecasts by Technavio (reported by The Drum). Added to that, in 2018, 91% of B2B marketers reported that they use content marketing.

Content marketing is huge – and getting huger! It’s the trust-based, non-interruptive, value-focused marketing of today and tomorrow.

Ready to Learn More?

If you’re raring to learn everything there is to know about strategic content, check out my flagship training program, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course where I teach you how to build, from the ground up, a complete content strategy.

If you want to learn to write high-ranking SEO content, head to my bootcamp-style online writing course, The Expert SEO Content Writer.