Everybody knows that in this day and age, if you want to have a successful business, you need to have a website. Everybody knows this and everybody has one. But whether you do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you, designing and building your website is only the very beginning. You now have to fill your shiny new website with lots of lovely information about your business and then get it to rank in the search engine results pages so that people will actually see it.
Now I know that, once you’ve paid all that money to the fancy web designers, it’s tempting to just put a couple of pages up with your contact details and a nice photo of you and your dog and leave it at that but, believe me, if you do, no one will ever see it. You may as well not bother spending the money on a website and go to the pub instead, for all the good it will do your business. You’re intelligent, you care about your business, and you’ve recognised that you need a website so you need to make sure that your customers, and more importantly your potential customers, actually see it.
How Important Is Content?
One of the most important factors in getting websites to the top of the rankings, which is what’s needed for people to view it, is pages and pages of good quality, well written and informed content. It’s not the be all and end all, there are others, but it is the foundation for a successful website and, without this basic, the others can’t be implemented.
Moreover, you can never think of your website as a finished article; it needs to be updated regularly with original and informed content and must be checked frequently to ensure it is always fresh and up to date.
Basically, content is king.
Why Is Content Important?
Good content has always been important but, since the rollout of Google’s Hummingbird in September 2013, it has now become paramount. Now you may or may not be familiar with Google’s latest algorithm update, Hummingbird, (if you read my blog regularly then you will certainly have heard about it as it seems to be all I ever write about at the moment). If you are not aware of its impact and its consequences and want to know a bit more, then please read my blog Is Artificial Intelligence Changing Our Copy?: if you’re happy just to take my word for it then please read on.
Basically, to simplify it completely, the Hummingbird update has reinforced the principle that content is King. Google’s drive behind Hummingbird, like all its updates, is to provide searchers with the most relevant and best possible websites available and to do this it promotes those with informed, original content and relegates those with insufficient or poor quality content.
What’s more, every time a new piece of content is added to a website, The Googlebot is notified and returns to that website to ‘crawl’ it again; put shortly, the more that new content is added, the more ‘aware’ of that website Google is and the more likely it is to return it in search results.
What Essential Content Is Needed?
We’ve established that good content and lots of it is essential for a successful website but, practically speaking, how do you create pages and pages of useful and informative content?
To begin with, there are some obvious basics that need to be covered;
You and Your Team
It is crucial that at least one or two pages need to concentrate on the people in the business. Introduce yourself and explain what you do, why you do it and why you’re so good at it. If you work with a team or have staff then include a page that introduces them, their skills and specialism. It’s also important that these pages include photos of the individuals and maybe the team as a whole.
Increasingly, sales decisions are based on intangibles; it is highly unlikely that you are the only person offering your product or service so you need an edge over the competition. Introducing yourself and your team allows potential customers to identify with you and believe that they are dealing with real people rather than completing a transaction with a faceless machine.
Your Product or Service
Explain what you are offering and why it is the best. It is imperative that this section is thorough, don’t assume that everyone knows what your product or service is. This is your business and your passion so sell it.
Your Industry or Sector
Again, you need to show that you thoroughly understand your business sector and explain to your potential customers why you are at the vanguard of it. You must demonstrate your knowledge and educate those who know nothing of your chosen area.
As the way that people are searching is changing, particularly with the introduction of voice search, the content of a website needs reflect this. When searching using a voice search, most people speak as though they were conversing with another person, generally by asking complete questions such as “How do I do…?”.
If your website contains self-help guides then these will answer such “How To” questions and will be returned in the search results. The more resources and self-help guides that are provided on your website, the more visitors your website will get. The key here is to create a really useful website that people can come back to again and again; provide resources in an easily downloadable and printable format and watch the rankings rise.
Contact, Contact, Contact
Never assume that people who land on your website will know what to do; provide as many contact options as you possibly can and make sure they are all clearly visible in an obvious place.
People are all different and will all have different preferred methods of contact. The most essential are a postal address, a phone number and a contact form or email address, but it is also a good idea to offer alternative methods of contact such as a Twitter or Facebook account.
Call To Action
Again, don’t assume that visitors to your website will know what to do. Ensure that there is a call to action clearly visible on every page of your website and make sure the text and background are large and obvious enough to stand out. Also, make sure it is easy for customers to complete this; if people have to go through dozens of clicks and visit irrelevant pages to complete a transaction then they will simply close your website down and visit your competitor’s.
These six elements are the absolute essentials that any website must contain and should form the main, static base of your businesses’ pages. Once you have completed these, you will already have a website with at least seven or eight pages, which is a good foundation for building the second, more fluent section. Although these pages won’t change often, it is still important for you to check them regularly to make sure all the information is still relevant and up to date; an old, outdated website is as much use as a chocolate fireguard.
What Supplementary Content Is Needed?
As I have already said, it is crucial that new content is added regularly, but it is difficult to constantly think up new ideas and to know exactly what to add to your website. The type of content and frequency with which you need to update it will depend on your business and the size of your website, [please read blog Is It Important To Add More Content To Your Website for more information], but there are a few general ideas that may help;
A regularly posted blog is almost essential now for a successful website and it is one of the quickest and easiest ways of posting new content. It can sometimes seem like a chore to commit to writing a blog but it does not have to be arduous; one or two hundred words each time will suffice, providing that it is posted frequently.
The beauty of a blog is that you are not restricted in your subject; it obviously needs to be vaguely about your business but it can also be a more personal reflection on current events relative to your business and sector. A blog is also a great place to post smaller ‘How To’ articles, to comment on developments in your industry or to show off your knowledge and expertise.
A blog also builds a relationship between your business and your customers by opening up a conversation and providing a ‘human face’ to what would otherwise be an impersonal experience. This in turn garners trust and encourages loyalty from your customers.
If you do not always have the time to write the blog yourself, you could always spread the task around your staff or even your family. Alternatively, there are innumerable companies who offer a daily blog writing service but be careful and make sure you do your research, the blog needs to be well written and relevant otherwise it will be futile.
This is not always relevant to all businesses, but it can be useful to post articles about research that you or your staff have done into your industry or sector. Again, this can be a valuable way of sharing developments whilst also showing off your knowledge. Moreover, it will build upon that all important bond of trust with your customers, as it demonstrates that your business is forward thinking and aware of the challenges it may face in the future.
Reporting or commenting upon current events or industry debates will likewise show that you and your business are aware of external factors that may challenge you or impact upon your performance.
Interviews and Q&As
Interviews with your competitors or leading experts in your niche are a fantastic way to add extra content to your website. Besides again providing authoritative, specialist information they are a perfect way of acquiring higher rankings. Given the fact that more and more people are now searching in questions via voice search, coupled with Hummingbird’s preference for this kind of format, an in depth interview composed in a question and answer format is much more likely to match a search criteria and therefore much more likely to be returned in a results page.
Similarly, a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions page and a Question and Answers page serve the double purpose of providing customers with sufficient information to make an informed purchase whilst at the same time affording further chances to match search criteria. To reinforce this, ensure that questions are posed to begin with “How Do I…?”, Where Can I…? or What Do I Need To…?” etc. so that they mimic the questions that searchers may ask of their search engine.
Ask The Expert
You are an expert in your business and your trade so why not share your genius? It may seem like giving your work away for free but it’s not; you’re building that all important trust again, plus it’s one thing to give people advice but it’s quite another to expect them to then be able to do it. Don’t worry; they’ll still need your services, even if it no longer looks like you perform magic!
What’s more, although I feel as though this is now becoming my mantra, the question and answer format of a section such as this would again give your website even more chances to appeal to Hummingbird and the new search criteria.
It is becoming clear that Hummingbird is getting better at recognising social signals and is beginning to reward the genuine links and approval ratings that are acquired through sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Here, a Google+ account linked to your website is crucial as Google is particularly fond of websites that have a presence on all of their platforms.
Regardless of Google though, it is now imperative that social media is incorporated into your website as it allows customer interaction and is the most effective way of advertising your business and creating a public persona. Twitter and Facebook in particular are a great way of creating a ‘buzz’ around recent developments in your business, whilst sites such as LinkedIn or industry specific websites are an invaluable way of networking and increasing trade.
Content: The Great and The Good
Once you know what content you’re going to put on your website, you have to begin to write it. The aim of this blog is not to provide a guide on how to write good content, that requires a separate blog, but to just give some pointers on what is required.
Despite the revolutionary changes occurring in search marketing, the old general rules of good copywriting still apply; keywords are still important and the text needs to be structured, simple and informative with perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation. It is also important to create separate pages for informational, navigational or transactional keyword types and to include as many calls to action as possible. The content additionally needs to be plentiful, so write as much text as possible without waffling in order to capture more long tail keywords.
Nevertheless, Hummingbird is changing copywriting and the text no longer needs to be driven completely by keywords; they still need to be peppered throughout the text but it is now equally important to use more synonyms and a more natural, conversational style of writing.
Call In The Experts
Obviously, I accept that creating such a mammoth body of content for your website will take a huge amount of time and time is something that busy business owners are not rich in. However, if you want your website and your business to thrive, you simply must do it.
It is not necessary for the whole body to go live at the same time; it can be uploaded piecemeal and completed over a period of weeks. As I have already mentioned, staff, family and friends can also be roped in to help with aspects of it; it is particularly appropriate for the social media burden to be spread around various people to ensure posts are fresh and current.
If you don’t have the time or the confidence to do everything yourself then it is time to call in the experts. There are a lot of companies that will provide text writing services but, in this scenario, an SEO Consultant is requisite, as they will be able to tailor the copywriting to maximise exposure in search engines and thus ensure a greater volume of traffic to your website.
Reap The Benefits
Ultimately, although it will undoubtedly require money, time and dedication, the benefits of creating a website with a substantial amount of well written, informed and instructive content are compelling. In terms of SEO, your website will achieve increased visibility in Google’s search results and thus receive much higher volumes of traffic. Moreover, if searchers and potential customers find the answers to their questions on your website then they will share the recommendation, return again and again and, more importantly, you will be well placed as the supplier of choice in the future.
Eventually, whether you do it yourself or employ a company to do it for you, what you will end up with is a strong archive of highly valuable content that will provide visitors with an incredibly useful resource and you with a successful website that converts into increased profit and kudos.
Let’s face it; you can’t really afford not to, can you? Get in touch for more info!