How many websites have you gone to that look nice and seem to have lots of information, but where do you find what you want? Does the website speak to you and your needs, leading you through the buying process to the information you need to make an informed decision? Do you know where to click next or do you just push the back button and move to the next site out of frustration?
Website design is important, but only part of the website development process. How do you create a site that keeps your prospective clients on your site, leading them through the buying process and convincing them to buy from you?
Your website is your company’s primary marketing tool. If you want your website to work, the right content is the key to your website’s success. You have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and engage them in the buying process or risk losing them forever.
Content development is a complicated process with many different factors to consider. The overall challenge is to take all the information you can gather about your company and its products and/or services and organize it into logical segments of tiered information that can be accessed quickly and easily.
Since different visitors have different information needs, the goal is to make it easy to skim quickly for some, while offering more information for others. In addition to being well organized, your website content should be well written and persuasive, making it easy for readers to move to the next step when they are ready.
Optimizing your content for search engines
Fancy Flash pages are no longer the focus of today’s websites. Google ranks your site by crawling the pages and searching for relevant words. Google spiders don’t see Flash movies and photographs. In fact, a Flash home page blocks Google from crawling and indexing your site’s content.
When someone initiates a search in Google, the search begins with the searcher entering the words they think best describe the information they are seeking. These words are considered “keywords”. Google’s spiders crawl the Web to find the websites with the most keywords in each search and ranks them according to how many of these keywords are included on a given website. There are many factors that go into this process, but this is the basic premise behind search engine optimization.
For search engine optimization purposes, your home page should have lots of relevant keywords so that people will find your site. When they get to your site, they’ll scan the page and quickly decide where to click next. Perhaps your home page will pull them in and they will read it if they find it engaging. Or, maybe they will go directly to the about page to learn more about your company. Another person may go directly to the products or services page.
Once people get to your site, how do you know where they will click next? You don’t. Everyone is different and you have no way of knowing where your website will lead them. This is not a brochure. You can’t assume because you said something on your home page they have read it. They could go anywhere. Once you determine the primary benefits of your company’s products or services, how do you ensure visitors get your marketing message?
Developing Your Website Content
Since you don’t know where people will go when they get to your site, you should write each page as its own entity. This means you may have to repeat the same message on several pages, but since you don’t know which pages a visitor has read already, you’ll want to say it a different way so it doesn’t sound repetitive. (For example, your home page may give some information about the company which you’ll need to repeat on the about page.)
The advantage of this strategy is that it reinforces your marketing message throughout your site. For engaged visitors who are the right prospects for your company’s products and/or services, everything they read will lead them towards buying your product or service. If your message is compelling, you’ll pull them in wherever they land and they will drill into your site for more and more information until they are ready to buy.
Encourage your visitors to take the next step by including calls to action throughout your site. Since you have no idea when your visitors will be ready to take the next step, make it easy for them to respond. End each page with a sentence like, “Call xxx.xxx.xxxx today or email for more information”.
There are many other aspects to consider when developing content for your site including:
- A clear navigation system that is easy to follow and consistent throughout your site
- Speaking to your customers and prospects in a friendly yet professional tone
- Content that is meaningful and useful to your customers and prospects
- When possible, organize your content in short paragraphs with subheads which allow people to skim content quickly while giving them the option to dig deeper for more information if they are interested
In summary, if you want your website to work for you, develop well-written, informative and organized content. If you are not a skilled writer, work with a professional writer to develop content for you. Your company’s website is your most important marketing tool, so don’t underestimate the value of carefully crafted content. The success of your website depends on it.