by Durant Imboden, Europe for Visitors
On the Web, the phrase "editorial content" has been replaced by the single word "content," and in the corporate Web-publishing world, "content" is often defined as "fillers between the ads" or "keyword-rich text to attract search engines."
We beg to differ, and our editorial philosophy is based on a simple rule:
Don't assume that online readers are flighty and lazy.
A popular myth says that online readers have short attention spans, and that Joe or Jane User won't read anything longer than 200 words. But consider:
- If the myth were true, NYTimes.com wouldn't be attracting 719 million page views per month (ComScore: May 2010), Wikipedia wouldn't be the 8th busiest site on the Web (Alexa: July, 2010), and Amazon.com wouldn't be cluttering its e-commerce pages with book and product reviews.
- People with a strong interest in a topic--such as travelers who are researching trips--are looking for useful information, not for teasers and tidbits.
- What's more, those "engaged readers" are the visitors who are most likely to come back, make purchases through your affiliate links, and respond to advertisers' messages as they proceed from a trip's earliest planning stages ("What kind of trip should we take? "Where should we go?") to the final plans and purchases ("Let's reserve our hotel room," or "Let's book that cruise").
At Europeforvisitors.com, we devote hundreds of pages to topics like "Venice" and "Paris," and we have cruise reviews and photo galleries that run from 100 to 200 pages--or, in some cases, even longer. When readers are looking for help in making purchase decisions, or in planning trips to the destinations that we feature, too much information is better than too little.
- Give your readers the information they need on practical topics like transportation, accommodation, and key sights. When necessary, link to other pages or Web sites where readers can find more details.
- Round out your coverage with offbeat features like our Paris Dog Cemetery article, our introduction to the Paris Sewers Museum, and Fisheye Venice, which offers a warped view of a unique city.
- Focus on "evergreen" coverage. You'll need to update your facts and links from time to time, but on a travel-planning Web site, as in a guidebook, good content can have value for the reader--and for you--year after year.
- Write in a conversational style, as if you were communicating directly to the individual reader.
- Use plenty of photos. Travel is a visual topic, so why expect your readers to digest entire pages of unadorned text?