In previous posts I’ve looked at why paying attention to your content makes sense, so this time i’m going to discuss all of the basics you will need to be aware of in order to write effective website content.
Don’t just write, lay your foundations and plan
Before you can write your content you need to plan it. Start by thinking about each of the individual content pages you want to have on your website and list them all, a basic bullet pointed list is generally sufficient for this if you don’t already have a fancy site map. If you are re-writing content for an existing website you just need to make a list of the pages you already have.
Plan key messaging and write around that
Next, you need to think about the information that people will need to enable them to make an informed decision about buying your services or products. As well as deciding what key information you need to get across, you’ll need to start thinking about the best way to present this information.
Nothing is quite as dull or off-putting as paragraph after paragraph of text
Hard facts and technical data are often entirely necessary but to present your service or products in a compelling way, it takes more than dry facts and text and this can be a tough one to get right. Too informal and familiar and you risk sounding unprofessional, too formal and factual and you risk boring your readers and losing potential leads.
Ooh pictures, we love a good picture!
Pictures are good, use them frequently to break up text and add interest, but keep them relevant. The pictures that you use need to add and not detract from your core messaging. Read more about the importance of images in web design here.
Quotes are a great way of highlighting key information and breaking up text; tables and graphs are a good way to display complex or comparison data and headlines are essential to the structure of your page. Using a mixture of content will ensure your content is fresh meaning that website visitors stay engaged, buying you more time to win them over.
Be clever, be intriguing and invite curiosity
Not only do headlines break up vast blocks of text, but they offer readers a quick, at-a-glance clue to what the following content is all about. A good headline is informative, relevant and entices a website visitor to continue reading, so it is critical to get this part right as strong headlines will help to elevate your copy, impacting on everything from your websites search engine ranking through to your conversion rates.
Information and facts are all well and good, but great copy needs to be engaging
The art of website copy writing rests upon the ability to present important information in a way that is interesting and engaging. Personality counts for a lot but that doesn’t mean you need to lapse into informal speech or become a hipster. You can still be entirely human, likeable and interesting whilst maintaining professional credibility.
Copy writing tips you can take away
- Highlight all of the benefits and/or problems your service or products can solve
- Include information on how to use your service or products
- Be sure to highlight your USPs, this will help give people a reason to choose you over your competitors
- Mix up your content so that you use pictures, graphics, text, quotes and headlines
- Include strong calls to action e.g. ‘contact us now for a free quote’
- Include detailed service and/or delivery information
- The point of all your copy is to inform, persuade and convert so keep those goals in mind
- Use attractive, high quality pictures wherever possible or video content which is even better
For more information on content marketing and how to produce strong content, see the blog post 10 crucial content marketing questions.
Shell Robshaw-Bryan is a marketing consultant at Surefire Media, the Cheshire based web design, eCommerce and marketing company. Shell specialises in organic search, content strategy and social media engagement for both B2C and B2B companies.
In case you hadn’t already noticed, 2013 is all about content. Google’s ever evolving ranking algorithm has finally come of age and is sophisticated enough to be able to rank sites based on the quality and relevance of their content like never before. No longer is content generation a matter of writing for SEO purposes OR for human visitors (or finding a balance of the 2 which was the case for many years). Finally, we have reached a point where the content that search engines like is largely the same as content that your human visitors will like.
The lines between writing good SEO copy for search engines and engaging copy for humans have all but disappeared
The days of keyword stuffing, or writing meaningless content that would only impress search engines are thankfully, a distant memory. Producing great content that engages your visitors is well and truly in. Yup, content is king!
If SEO is at the top of your list of priorities (and lets face it for any business, SEO has got to be up there) then focusing on improving your content should be right at the top of your to-do list, because good content is more important than ever in determining how a website is ranked by Google.
What exactly is content marketing?
Put simply, content marketing is the ability of a business to communicate effectively with existing and potential customers in a meaningful way. Content marketing drives trust in a brand and creates a connection. Having trust and feeling connected to a brand makes a customer more receptive to any subsequent marketing messages, making them more likely to react positively.
A traditional customer encounter might go something like this:
We sell boxes > They are brilliant boxes > Come and buy them from us!
An alternative, more content-focused encounter may go more like this:
Here is a lot of helpful information on boxes > We know a lot about boxes > We understand why you want to buy boxes > We sell brilliant boxes that fit your needs > Come and buy from us!
The second content-focused approach will ultimately convert more customers and builds trust more successfully. This content-focus will prove more successful in the long-run, making it an effective strategic approach to use.
“The single most significant trend is the continued emergence of content marketing as a standalone discipline. Content, in all its shapes and forms, is core to everything we do as marketers.” Econsultancy, Digital Trends for 2013.
Many consumer focused businesses, in particular retailers, will find it relatively easy to strengthen existing content, or to create new content. For others, in particular B2B companies who may not have particularly sexy or interesting products or services, this can be more difficult. As in the example above, just how do you make content interesting for a company who makes boxes?
If you are just getting started, my advice is to start by going over what you currently have. There is no point writing brilliant new content if it will join a whole bunch of mediocre or mis-matched content. Look at what you already have and optimise this before you go any further.
Just how good is your content? Ask yourself the following questions.
- How useful is your existing content – are you giving your customers the information they are looking for?
- Does your content tell a potential new customer everything they need to know in order to make an informed decision?
- Is your content all sales focused and full of blatant marketing?
- Are benefits clearly laid out and are they compelling enough?
- Is the content interesting enough to warrant return visits, bookmarking or sharing?
- Is your content sticky enough to capture and hold peoples attention, increasing their dwell time?
- Is all of your content professionally written?
- Is your content on-brand?
The bottom line is, focusing on the quality of your content will help to ensure that you are able to maintain your online visibility throughout 2013 and It will have a big influence on your ability to gain the competitive edge, especially in terms of keeping existing customers engaged and in reaching new ones.
I’d love to hear from others on this subject; do you agree that the focus should be so heavily on content? Perhaps you are a business owner who can’t see the value and would prefer to invest in other areas instead? How do you approach your content strategy?