Crafting Good Content
By: Joe Bryant
Don’t be content with content.
Is that sentence confusing? Not if you read it like this… “Don’t be content” (emphasis on second syllable) as in comfortable “with content” (emphasis on first syllable) as in subject matter. It’s kind of catchy but not if I have to explain. Which leads me to the subject of this article, content on your website.
Content is what the pages of your website display such as text (a.k.a. copy), graphics, photography, and in a less tangible way, your message. Let’s take a tour of these subjects and while you read, think about your website and see if it stacks up.
There is no more important content on your website than what appears on the home page and landing pages. But wait, the home page and the landing page are the same thing right? No they are not but they do share the need for exceptional content. Your home page is the page that a visitor sees when they type in your websites’ main URL, something like www.mycompanyname.org. A landing page, of which your website may have many, is a page your visitor arrives at because they clicked a link on another internet site that brought them to this exact page on your website. An example of a landing page would be a page on a community events website about a specific concert on Thursday the 24th. The visitor might have gotten to that specific page by clicking a link while they were on the band’s website bypassing the home page of the community events website altogether.
Whether home or landing page, the always important topic of content takes on an even more significant role. Let’s take the home page first. Even if your URL pretty clearly states what is going on at your website, www.hireaplumber.com for instance, job one for your home page is to plainly state your message, communicating what your website is all about. Do you sell something? Then give visitors the clear direction and tools they need to start buying. Do you run a blog website? Then the latest articles or series should be readily available to be browsed and selected. Do you run a community events website? Then put the calendar front and center. In other words, your content should make it simple for the visitor to know your message/purpose, and act on it in an appropriate way like buying an item, reading your blog, or browsing the events calendar.
“… your content should make it simple for the visitor know your message/purpose, and act on it in an appropriate way”
Landing pages should be designed so that all content and functionality required for the visitor to accomplish the desired action should be right in front of them. The only reason to have a landing page is to get a desired action from your visitor. Making them fish about in your menu system will frustrate and drive them away. Many landing page techniques eliminate navigation altogether. If you are not sure about what pages on your website are acting as landing pages, consult with your hosting provider and/or examine the analytics for your website.
If a customer walked into your establishment and saw a sign saying “50% off everything in the store” only to find out that the sale expired two weeks ago, how do you think they might react?
They might question the wisdom of spending money with someone so lazy or inattentive they wouldn’t take a sign down. In the same way, outdated or stale content on your website kills web traffic. You went to the time and expense of creating your website and adding meaningful content, so do not neglect the responsibility of maintaining fresh content. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo do not like stale content either. A website with mostly static content will slip in those all-important page rankings.
The Three C’s
Your message will, for the most part, be conveyed with text, or copy, as it referred to in the web design business. A goal to strive for when it comes to copy is the three C’s… Clear – Concise – Compelling. “In business since 1985,” could mean you learned how to it a long time ago and aren’t familiar with new ideas, trends, or products. “Decades of experience,” on the other hand clearly communicates a depth of knowledge and expertise. Clear copy makes a difference everywhere on your website. Concise is just another word for short or brief. Unless your visitor arrived at your website for the express purpose of reading, keep your copy brief and to the point. Compelling copy leads the visitor to act in a desired fashion. The marketing term for this is, “a call to action.” That action may be to buy something, read an article, sign up for a newsletter, etc. If your copy, particularly on landing pages, does not have a compelling call to action, it needs to be rewritten. These concepts together might look like this…
“Tele-Optics has been in business for over 30 years and will bring that knowledge and expertise to your project. Call or contact us today to see how we can help.”
The above statement is true first of all, but after that it is clear, concise and compelling. We’re not just blowing our company horn. We are saying that our expertise and longevity brings value to our clients. We are also saying you, as the prospective client should feel good about that and call us today. And, we said it all in two short sentences. Good copy.
Let’s end this article with a brief discussion on the “so what” principle. In sales, the “so what” principle is wrapped up in the features and benefits of a product or service. For example, let’s say I was selling you the latest widget machine for your company.
Me: It can produce widgets 25% faster. You: So what?
Me: 25% more product in the same amount of time with the same staffing level means more profit which means more opportunities to grow your business. You: That has my interest.
Features can sometimes be persuasive on their own if the benefit is self-evident. Most of the time though, clearly communicating the benefit, as I did in the second sentence, gives significance to the feature. Simply saying you have factory trained technicians doesn’t matter to the person sweating it out with a broken heat pump. But, saying your technicians get the job done quickly and correctly the first time because they are factory trained just might earn you a new customer! Most people don’t buy features, they buy benefits. If you examine what you are saying on your website, are you answering the “so what” question?
Crafting great copy and content for your website is actually not easy and you do not have to browse many sites to see that is true. Knowing the language is not nearly enough. Understanding your company, the demographics of your website traffic, web marketing trends, and much more are all important to building good content.
If you are less than thrilled with the content of your website, but are not sure how to transform it, then contact us today. We will be happy to consult with you and bring it into line with the 3 C’s.
There is much more to be said about these topics, so please be sure to check back to The Inside Wire soon for additional topics related to making your website better.
If you would like to read the other articles in this series you can check them out with the links below.