A Basic Overview to Creating Content for Your Web Site
It really seemed, until quite recently in fact, that there were three separate groups of people influencing Web site content. You had the code people, the programmers and network folks that managed the back end and the infrastructure and thought those were the keys to success. Then you had your visual people, the designers that considered the layouts and the cool animations to be the way to go. Finally, you had your writers and wordsmiths, who kept tabs on how the search engines examined and rated sites and continued to craft copy (content) to push the site’s ratings and page views up, up and away.
We may have finally reached the point where all these disparate groups agree. The fact is, all of them are right, to a degree, but the great majority of these diverse professionals now agree that Content Is King. From the SEO experts to the marketing departments, the focus is on creating, and continuing to modify, site content.
Now, of course, there are other buzzwords and fads to beware of as various different groups start arguing about what quality content really is. Fortunately, there are already good answers to content questions, and you can take control of your content yourself, without any high-priced consultants, as long as you have a good writer on hand that can follow a set of directions (and keep tabs on how those directions change over time).
Bottom line basics
In a nutshell, content is supposed to offer value to the site visitors, and it is to these people that it must be directed. This means you need to have a handle on the type of visitors your site attracts (or is supposed to). The readers want good information that is usable, that relates well to what they were searching for, whether it’s news, education, entertainment or research data. The first of the bottom line basic requirements is that the content must be considered immediately relevant and useful.
Some content experts have had a hard time explaining how to create this kind of copy, and have instead shown examples without giving instruction on writing it. The foregoing paragraph is a decent summary of these instructions, which may be better expressed in short bulleted statements. Make sure your content is:
clearly relevant to the major topics of the Web site, whether these are products, services, philosophical ruminations or opinion;
of immediate value to potential customers, clients, members, etc.
written in the language and the style most accommodating to the main demographic that the site serves, while remaining understandable to all; and
free of useless jargon, unnecessary filler, controversy (unless that is the topic) and anything else that interferes with its usefulness.
Many benefits of quality content
Having good content is rarely an end in itself, even for online libraries and archives. Unless drawing large numbers of site visitors is not important, which can possibly be true in some cases though not in business, getting people to read the content and act upon it in some way is the ultimate aim. When it is done right, and you craft the content to your audience, you will not only increase the number of site visitors, you will also increase the number of conversions, whatever it is you are calling for action on (sales, making a phone call, signing up for a seminar, etc.).
Since you know your customers and potential customers better than anyone, it would be best for you to write the content yourself. If you do not know how, you should begin practicing even as you draft into the project the best writer in your family or firm and work on it together. Whether it’s you doing the writing, or you are guiding another in the task, you will be educating readers about your product or service, extolling its benefits, explaining why it’s not just useful but necessary and giving plain, powerful reasons for that claim.
This is just short, starter list, but it can get you moving in the right direction. You must:
write plainly, without showing off your college vocabulary (unless it makes sense)
use natural-sounding, rather than too-clever-by-half, titles and heading
focus on benefits first, features next, of your product or service
learn how to format text properly for the Web
give alternative points of view or vantage points for understanding your product or service
learn to do keyword research and keyword-based writing
Listen to feedback from both site visitors and professionals that you trust. In fact, you would be wise to solicit such feedback. Continue learning your writing craft, which you can do with a number of good instructional Web sites or books, and take all the help you can get from experienced Web writers. Like anything else, you will get better with time and effort, so stay positive!