Problogging Tips: The Value and Structure of Comprehensive Content

A blog is a blog is a blog, but if you’ve bought into the idea of using WordPress as a CMS – or any other platform, if you don’t like WordPress – you can turn it into a hybrid site, with regular pages and blog pages. One way to do this is to introduce comprehensive content which, as I’ve discussed before, builds upon resource articles. So for example, instead of the resource article I wrote called 48 Unique Ways to Use WordPress, I could have gone a step further and given detailed tutorials for each example. However, you don’t always have to build comprehensive content around a linkbait article, as you’ll see below.

Why Build Comprehensive Content?

Comprehensive content is one guaranteed way to build authority for your site. If you choose a specific topic and then build 30, 40, 50 pages of content connected together by an accessible link structure, search engine bots will very likely assign more relevancy to your site for that topic. That’s what SEs live for: to find relevant content for a topic. This means that you’ll eventually start pulling in significantly more traffic for that topic than if you write a one page summary.

So the sooner you start, the better – especially if you’re building content for an upcoming event. This gives search engines time to find your content and then actually index it. Also, the longer you have before an event starts in the real world, the longer you have to start accumulating backlinks from other sites.

When Not to Build Comprehensive Content

There is no point in building comprehensive content around a one-time event that will have no ongoing value in the future. For example, previously I gave an example of building comprehensive content for Dancing With the Stars Season 6 (DWTS 6). If you happened upon insider information that indicates that DWTS will not return after Season 6, you might think twice about building comprehensive content around it. On the other hand, if you’re building a database of reality TV shows, you might still build some DWTS content, but in a condensed form. Similarly, if you’re building a database about dance styles and origins, you might use a condensed form for DWTS content.

So before you spend hours of your valuable time, do some market research to determine how valuable any of the information you had planned on publishing will be in a year, two years, and so on. If you are planning on monetizing the content, you need to determine whether building the content is worthwhile. Even if you expect traffic to be relatively high, if you cannot find suitable ad networks, you might think twice.

What Comprehensive Content Can I Build?

Previously I gave the example of going beyond a couples photo gallery for Dancing With the Stars Season 6. You could build up comprehensive content by adding profiles for each celebrity and professional dancer, then analyses of each episode, etc. However, that starts on Monday Mar 17th, and at this point, you’re already behind anyone that’s got the jump on you. (You might still build the content after the season, for the express purpose of drawing web traffic just before Season 7.)

A much bigger event happening this year is the Olympics. How might you build comprehensive content for the 2008 Summer Olympics being held in Bejing? Here are some content suggestions, which you can mix and match.

  1. Primary index page. Regardless of what content you build around the 2008 Olympics, you want one handy “front door” page. That is, a single index page to tie together all the groups of pages. What goes on the main index page, in terms of links, depends on what other groupings you have, as discussed below.
  2. Year-based division. If you plan to cover all future Olympics starting with 2008, your main index page should not have a link to a 2008 “group index”. Not yet anyway. Wait until after you have another Olympics (e.g., 2010 Winter Olympics) index page to link to.
  3. Host country page. Consider having a summary page about the host country, the locations of the events, transportation information, hotel information, Visa issues, tourist attractions, links to articles about air quality, links to articles about etiquette and legalities, etc.
  4. Sports index pages. For example, “swimming” would have it’s own “sport” group index page, which will point to various events for this sport.
  5. Events pages. Each sport has its own events. For example, swimming might have a “100 m men’s breaststroke” and “100 m women’s breaststroke”. These two swimming events would have their own events pages. (However, you might choose to put men’s and women’s information on one page instead of splitting them.) The page might contain a summary of the event’s rules and all participating countries, with links to actual results pages as they’re available. Or you might put all information for an event on this event page. Don’t forget to include extra media/ info/ links such as country flag thumbnails, links to country index pages, video and images of events.
  6. Country index pages. Each participating country should get their own index page. This page will list all the sports (and possibly sports events) that their athletes are participating in. Make sure you include details about the country in general, as well as a flag (larger than a thumbnail). If you want to get fancy, maybe you could include an MP3 of each country’s national anthem. If a participating country has already hosted the Olympics, you might want to include such information. Keep in mind that you want to organize a country index page in such a way that it can be used again for the next Olympics but in a manner that does not cause confusion for a reader.
  7. Main country listing. Somewhere you’ll want to list all the participating countries and link to each country index page. This listing could consist of flag thumbnails, country names, and links.
  8. Athlete profile pages. If you are providing profile pages of each athlete, make sure you list the athletes on their country’s index page and then link to each person.
  9. Live blogging content. Once the 2008 Olympics launch, you probably want to blog about each event as its happening, or just after it finishes.

How Much Comprehensive Content Should I Build?

Think about other types of content pages that you might include, as well as how you might link pages together, to make it easier for readers to find the information they probably want. If you plan on repeating this process for future Olympics, consider how you might re-use some pages and/or link together pages from different years. (For example, if an athlete participates in 2008 and 2012, make sure a 2012 reader can find the 2008 info, if they want to. Readers might also like to find info about a participating country in different years. So if you use different country index pages in different Olympic years, link a newer page to older pages.)

For the 2008 Olympics alone, you could easily build 100-400 pages of content. Sounds like a daunting task, but if you plan it out in advance and get started now, you could have your regular pages in place, then blog the events as they happen – with links to the comprehensive content pages. By getting a headstart on the page building, you significantly increase the chances that your site will gain high rankings for “Olympics 2008” before they even launch this summer. That means more web traffic when you start living blogging after each event.

If it’s too big a project for you, consider teaming up with a few online friends, to build a site under joint ownership. Four or five bloggers can make short work of 100 pages of comprehensive content.

The Structure of Comprehensive Content

Regardless of how much content you plan to build, make sure that you sketch out in advance how you want to group all of the content pages. Determine what index pages you will need to tie the content pages together with links.

If you use WordPress, you know that WP offers two types of pages: (1) blog post pages that are typically shown reverse-chronologically; and (2) regular pages that are not affected by chronology. Which of these should you use when building comprehensive content? Your choice will depend on a number of factors:

  1. Can a content page stand on its own? If so, you can use a blog post page.
  2. Does your blog theme show every single regular page’s link in the navigation bar, even when you don’t want it to? If so, you might want to use blog post pages. Or, use regular pages and customize your theme to show only what you want in the navigation bar. On other option is to display a small box in the navgation labelled “2008 Summer Olympics”. This box would contain a list of links to other content pages or to group indexes.
  3. Are you live-blogging an event? If you’re building comprehensive content around an upcoming event, you’ll probably want to post updates as necessary. This content can go into blog post pages. Make sure you link to existing content pages, to lead any search spiders that have not yet indexed your site.

Other Events to Consider

This method works for TV events that take place either on a regular basis (regular weekly TV series) or for an extended duration (seasonal reality shows). Don’t discount how much web traffic a TV event can generate, especially if you build your comprehensive content well in advance. What content you put in depends on who the people are that are participating, and whether or not you can find information about them. It’s easier to find info about countries or celebrities than unknown reality show contestants.

Of course, you do not have to focus on TV events. You can build comprehensive content such as RideLust’s Corvette Hub, around a particular historical event, a popular product, an entire sporting league (e.g., wrestling), a form of entertainment (e.g., music and popular bands), or an ongoing health concern – such as diabetes triggered by obesity triggered by inactivity. (If you choose health topics, just make sure that you’re not offering medical advice and that you prominently display a disclaimer link on every page.)

Good luck and get to it.

6 thoughts on “Problogging Tips: The Value and Structure of Comprehensive Content

  1. > This means that you’ll eventually start pulling in significantly more traffic for that topic than if you write a one page summary.

    True! But you always have to check the efficiency! One comprehensive article takes 1-2 hours of work. Wait for incoming traffic and then (only then) divide it into multiple interlinked pages. Risk is that a not successful subject will be more successful through only one comprehensive article regarding efficiency.

    > start accumulating backlinks from other sites

    (…) Use the old article, rewrite it, enhance and republish it.

    The key is to use the existing search engine love for that URL!

    Let me simply call it long-term brand building for ONE article. My philosophy is to write articles like they are a whole website on a subject. This has proved to be very successful and much less time consuming than always creating a new article. (…)

    From: How-To successfully monetize repeating content

    Software tip: Pivot is great for building such a multiple pages/users comprehensive site.

    • Short: CMS suggestions? I say: 1. Textpattern 2. Pivot 3. Drupal
    • Long: Multi blog solution: Somebody using Pivot?

    The workflow feature ‘publish by (multiple) category (-ies) to different output (sites/pages)’ is outstanding. Textpattern is better as a one domain CMS but will need a MySQL database.

  2. Raj, that’s what I’ve been thinking, too. I’m at the germination stage right now. I need to shift to the ‘writing ideas down and actually doing something about them’ stage.

  3. Shane: that’s always the tough part. However, if you go beyond page/ article titles and start writing outlines, that might get the creative juices flowing a bit more.

  4. Raj, that’s what I’ve been thinking, too. I’m at the germination stage right now. I need to shift to the ‘writing ideas down and actually doing something about them’ stage.

  5. Shane: I’ve been thinking that your techwhimsy could have a great deal of O/S-related comprehensive content. Good luck.

  6. As always, Raj, you’ve got my thought juices flowing.

    What this approach emphasises is planning and direction. You need to know not only your end point but where you are going as well.

    I’m already thinking about how I can use this to give some focus to (the Local Development series I think could be an excellent platform for this)and for that I am very grateful.

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