High quality content is one of the driving forces behind the success of any business. Quality material boosts a website’s position in Google search results, which translates into higher traffic, more conversions and establishing a company’s brand as a specialist in a given field. In this entry, we are taking a closer look at the two important types of content – topical and tangential. The effective use of both is the key to attracting new audiences and keeping the current user base engaged.
So, what is the difference between topical and tangential content? The first type features information that is very specific for a given area, often technical and requiring technical background to understand. It usually appeals to those in the know, enthusiasts, professionals, people already familiar with the topic who are looking for information on a related issue. Using an example of an electronics shop, such as newegg, topical content would include articles on subjects such as the best video cards for gaming, featuring detailed technical specifications and comparisons, best value for money ratio, best performance, benchmark videos and charts, the list of technologies supported by the cards like Ray Tracing or DLSS, etc. Indeed, some examples of articles with topical content at newegg.com include:
- Top Picks: Live Streaming Equipment for Content Creation
- 5 Ways a NAS Device Improves Your Home Office Network
- Like a Pie on the Window Sill: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
- Video: be quiet! Dark Power 12 PSU for a silent, stable system
The topics above would appeal mainly to streamers, IT professionals, gamers, and PC building enthusiasts – the people who are the target audiences and customers of the platform. Topical content helps establish your brand within a specific industry and has a rather narrow focus. It will make both Google and customers recognize your brand as an authority in the field, even more so if your content is also posted on other respected websites, or if audiences are redirected from such sources. What if a company wants to expand their client base and reach people not necessarily directly connected to this type of tech?
This is where tangential content comes into play. This second type of material appeals to a broader audience and is used to increase reach. It focuses on topics somewhat connected to your industry, but from a wider, more accessible perspective. The content will be understood by people who may only have a general idea on the subject. One of the advantages is that the texts and videos have a higher chance of being shared by users because they are more accessible. For an electronics shopping platform, such as newegg, tangential content would include recommendation on the best system for video games – PCs, mobile, Xbox, Ninitendo or PlayStation; what makes a great gift for Father’s Day or for a teenager (with a focus on computers and consoles), etc. Here are some examples of tangential content you can find at newegg.com:
- Build or Buy Your Kid’s First PC? Here Are the Factors to Consider
- How to Make a Smart Home: 5 Budget-Friendly Projects for Beginners
- New Planet, Who Dis? We Talk Terraforming with Indie Game Designer Alexander Winn
- Double-Awesome Lifestyle: Kitchen Gadgets
Here, the intended audience is different – fathers looking for the first computer for their children, people who would like to have a modern, high-tech home, astronomy and space travel enthusiasts, as well as anyone who might be looking forward to upgrading their kitchen. All of these topics are still connected to tech, but will appeal to a wider group. This type of content is great for link building. It gives more opportunities to promote a brand, and if your material is shared or mentioned by a respected website or influencer – that’s free publicity. As a side note, in January 2021, Elon Musk shared a tweet about how great the esthetics of Cyberpunk 2077 are. The single sentence was enough to increase CD Projekt Red’s stock that day by nearly 12.6%. Tangential content enables you to choose topics from a bigger pool, which makes it easier to come up with ideas and engage a large variety of audiences with different tastes.
How to get ideas for content
Inspiration for topics can come from a variety of sources. Use analytics’ tools to identify topics of interest as well as popular keywords and build your content around them. Stay up to date with trending news and think about both topical and the related tangential content you could create to exploit the currently popular topics. Get inspired by your competition as well as content from outside your industry – think how you could find a reference. For tangential content, start thinking in more general terms, step outside your technical expertise and consider what a person without in-depth knowledge would be interested in and how it could be related to your topic. Think of it more like a shift from academic writing to popular science – the former is highly technical and mainly for people in the know, whereas the latter is intended for a broader audience without academic knowledge.
Both topical and tangential types of content are important to boost organic traffic and achieve success. The first one establishes your brand as an expert, while the other helps reach a wider audience. When combined, they serve as a powerful tool to grow any business and achieve success.