Your website is beautiful. Your products/services are great. Your site has lots of useful information. And yet, no one is reading it. Visitors come to your site and leave almost immediately. What could the problem be?
Probably your content. Maybe you're boring. Maybe you talk too much about yourself. Maybe you aren't very convincing. Maybe your pages are too intimidating.
The good news is that you can quickly fix all that. Let's take a look as some of the key things you should keep in mind when you're creating web content.
Focus On the Customer
Visitors come to your website for a reason. They decide quickly whether you have what they need. If not, they're gone.
Your content needs to be built around what they want. If you're the equivalent of that party bore who only wants to talk about themselves, well...it's a lot easier to get away online.
A good way to plan your content is to come up with "target personas". A target persona is a fairly detailed description of a representative customer. For example:
A small independent contractor looking for a new supplier of widgets. Wants to be kept up-to-date on new widgets and requires fast turn-around on orders. Likes to be treated as a professional and not like a consumer.
Create as many target personas as you need. As you're developing your content, ask yourself "Which persona(s) am I writing this for?" and "Is what I'm saying appropriate for them?".
When a potential customer lands on your website, you'd like them to take some specific action. Of course, ultimately you'd like them to buy something, but early in the sales cycle simple steps toward purchase can be just as significant (download a product datasheet, ask for a quote, etc.).
They aren't going to take the action you want without a compelling reason. One good approach is:
- Grab their attention—this is usually done with a good page title.
- Identify a need—Point out what they need and why it's important. This could be your product/service or simply information. Remember, they want to know "what's in it for me".
- Solve the need—Show that the benefits your products or services provide satisfy their need.
- Tell them what to do next—Don't assume that they will automatically know what to do. Have a clear "call to action" that asks them to do what you want.
Make Your Content Snack-sized
People have become used to content that is easily consumable. Faced with big blocks of text, they'll go somewhere else to find what they need.
Web visitors scan first, and only read if they see something that sounds interesting. Make your content scannable.
Break content up into chunks. Give each chunk a meaningful, interesting heading. Headings tell the scanning visitor what your content is about, and encourages them to read further.
Once you have their attention, don't waste it. Long, rambling introductions cause them to lose interest. Get to the point.
Finally, get rid of unnecessary text. Make your case concisely. Your visitors will be more likely to read the whole thing.
You know you're credible, but your visitors may not. You're trying to sell them something. Why should they believe you?
Provide reassurances. Explain why you're experts at what you do. Give reasons why they should trust you.
Don't make unsubstantiated statements. If you say you make "the world's best articulated widgets", then you'd better back that up with facts, reviews, testimonials and other material that substantiates your claim. If you come across as making a slick sales pitch, you'll probably lose the sale.
Poorly written content can destroy your credibility in an instant. Proofread what you write thoroughly before publishing.
Is the reading level appropriate? Your target personas can help here. Content you write for building contractors is probably going to be different from that for research scientists.
Watch out for industry jargon. The fact that you know what you're talking about doesn't necessarily mean your audience will also. Eliminate jargon if you can. If you can't, at least explain it.
Finally, you're not going to look professional if your content contains typos, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
Don't Forget About SEO
Although your content should be written for people, you should also keep Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. After all, it's likely that many of your visitors will have used a search engine to find you.
Although you're not likely to become an SEO expert, keep a few simple concepts in mind as you write:
- Think about keywords—Where appropriate, include in your content keywords and key phrases that searchers will likely use to find businesses in your category. Just remember that you should use them only if they make sense in context. Don't try to simply stuff your content with keywords.
- Include internal contextual links—there's probably a lot of interrelated content on your site. Link between related pages. Make sure the text of the link (what the visitor sees) contains keywords for the target page. For example, a link that says something like "articulated blue widgets" is much better than "click here".
- Link out to authoritative sources—providing links to high-quality, relevant content elsewhere on the Web can actually help your SEO. Don't be afraid of having your visitors follow a link to another site. They'll be back.
Wrap Up and Next Steps
I hope that this article has given you ideas about how you could improve your web content.
If you don't think that you or your employees can adequately create and proof your content, consider hiring a professional copywriter. You might find that doing so has a great payback.
If this has helped you, let me know. If I forgot something important, let me know that too.
Photo Gare and Kitty via Flickr