What is actionable content? If you’ve never heard the term before, then now is the time that you acquaint yourself with it, as a content writer or marketer (as well as a business owner), because there are few things in content creation more integral than this.
In a very short definition, actionable content is content that people can read and then use that information for something in the real world. This is the kind of content that performs the best for your blog, and when you create actionable content, it will immediately separate you from the considerable number of blogs out there who are not doing this.
Giving People Real Value
The bottom line and foundational idea behind actionable content is that whatever you’re posting in your business blog needs to provide real value for the reader. It’s actually not always easy to do, but as best as you can, make sure that you don’t post anything that doesn’t give people anything they can actually use.
It’s easy to write “filler” articles that are basically just there because you had to post something to fill that spot in your blog, but that kind of content isn’t going to make anyone pay attention to your site, your business, or your brand.
“Value” for the people consuming your content can be a few different things, depending on the focus of your blog. Blog posts that are entertaining have value; so do posts from which readers can learn something new, as well as posts that provide accurate and helpful instruction, tips and advice, direction for any kind of pursuit, etc.
Posting just anything won’t work. If you have a blog that doesn’t have a clear, consistent focus, with posts that are about random topics just to fill the page, then that doesn’t do much for the reader. Even if your blog does have a coherent focus, it still has to also give something to the reader that they need, something they can take away from it.
Put yourself in the position of someone searching for a given subject in Google, or someone looking for help with something they need to get done. The search is going to bring up a variety of articles, some of which have headlines that contain all the keywords you searched for but seem a little too general or vague, and some articles that clearly show that the content has a pointed focus. Which one would you click on?
Then, once you start reading an article that you found in your web search, and it doesn’t give you anything you can take away and use, you’re going to move on to other content that is truly helpful to you. On a side note, this is why writing well-designed headlines for your blog posts is so important. See the end of this post for a link to our previous article in this series about writing great headlines, in case you missed it.
Just Google It
The days of old-school, print libraries seem to be numbered, and we all know where everybody is finding the information that they’re looking for. So when people want to know how to do something, or to find any kind of information that they don’t already have, they’re going to use a Google search. This actually puts an interesting new responsibility on blog writers, but that’s a discussion for another time.
What this essentially means is that Google is the new encyclopedia, library, and professional expert for every possible subject under the sun, and everything anyone wants to know is easily there for the taking. People obviously don’t look at any book (most of the time) to find out information anymore. They don’t even usually ask people who know the answer; they just Google it.
This is the point and important to understand. Most people consider every article they find on the Internet to be at least somewhat reliable. They treat a Google search, and all the articles they find there, like sorting through millions of books on millions of shelves in a massive library.
So the key is that, when they search for something online, they expect you to provide them with information, instruction, etc. that they can use in the real world for whatever purpose they have, just as they would in a real library.
If you keep that close in mind as you’re creating new content, then everyone who finds one of your articles is going to get just what they were searching for, which is exactly how you generate greater success for your blog.
Examples of Actionable Content
So, that’s a good deal of explanation about what it means to be actionable, but if you’re not too familiar with the concept, it can still be tough to understand what actionable content really looks like. Below are a couple of examples to show how it fleshes out.
A how-to article is the perfect example of actionable content because it is the farthest thing from vague. When someone needs to know how to do something, and they come across your blog article, it will describe it completely for them. This type of article shouldn’t meander too much away from its goal, which is to explain a process entirely for the reader.
Branching off slightly from the how-to article format, a step-by-step format can be even more effective and helpful for readers, as it is more specific and straight-to-the-point, basically emulating an instruction manual. You can use this type of article for just about anything; it doesn’t have to be a manual for putting something together, like building a piece of furniture or something.
You can show readers how to do anything. It’s a how-to article, but you just articulate the process a little more by breaking it down into simple steps. Web searchers love this type of article because it doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. It’s one of the purest examples of actionable content.
These kind of articles carry a lot of value for readers because many times people are starting a project, making a big decision, or any new endeavour, really, and they are desperate for some advice and guidance to help them better understand what they’re getting into.
This is one type of content where you have a responsibility to make sure you know what you’re talking about, even more than other content, as people are going to take the information you give them to heart when they really need the advice.
Build Trust for Your Site
Utilizing these strategies for your blog is one of the absolute best things you can do to improve the content because when you post actionable articles that people can actually use, it helps to establish goodwill and trust with your subscribers, and any web searchers to come across your blog posts.
People will come back to your site because they know they’ll get value from your blog. This is yet another reason that your blog needs to have a consistent focus because people will know that they can just go straight to your site for certain information, instead of doing a Google search at all, as they trust your site already to have what they are looking for regarding a certain type of information.
Establishing yourself as an authority on something is always a good thing, anyway, to get some good word-of-mouth going and help your blog posts to perform better in search. You can be an authority for anything from how-to articles involving your field of expertise, whatever that may be, to a certain brand of entertaining content. Start creating truly actionable content for your audience as often as possible, and you’ll quickly see how much more successful your blog can be.
Check out all of the articles in the series, Building Your Business Blog 201:
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.