In the series "6 Reasons Your Website is Ineffective" you will discover that websites are more than just design. It takes many interconnected parts working together to make a website perform well online. If one of these areas is off, results will suffer. Learn how to spot and resolve these issues by ...
2. 6 Reasons Series: #1 Lack of Quality Content
A lack of quality content will disinterest or confuse your website visitors. This will most likely drive them away. When website visitors leave, you lose. A lack of quality content will also keep you from obtaining a good position in Google search results. In short, a lack of quality content will cause your website to be ineffective.
I put this subject first in this series because it is the number one mistake I see small business owners making. I guess this is because design usually wins over content in the minds of many. But, I warn you to never underestimate the power of the written word. Especially when it comes to Google!
Before I cover the benefits of quality content, I would like to mention of few hallmarks of poor content.
- Poor content focuses on features and not benefits.
- Poor content is hard to read.
- Poor content is not customer focused.
- Poor content contains factual, spelling & grammatical errors.
- Poor content is NOT read by anyone (or very few)!
Now that we know what poor content looks like, let’s take a look at what quality content is and what it can do for your website.
qual-i-ty (noun) “a high level of value or excellence” (Merriam-Webster)
Content in the context of this post is the written text on your web pages. “Quality content” means that your text brings “… a high level of value” to your website visitors. Quality content is even a big part of what Google looks for when deciding where to rank your web page in search results. The process of writing for the web is called copywriting.
The following are a few important benefits quality content will bring to your website:
- It builds trust & credibility with your website visitors.
- It lets others know what sets you apart (makes you unique).
- It lets Google know who you are and what you do.
- It will win the heart of potential customers (and their business).
- It can make the sale for you even when you sleep! Pretty awesome!
Writing for the web is different from writing a book, a paper or other printed material. Attention spans are short on the web. Most people only scan for clues to see if what they are looking for is there. If they don’t get a sense they are in the right place, they leave (bounce) and you lose! So, what can you do?
First, understand that the presentation and relevance of your content on each web page is important. Next, know that writing for the web also means you must optimize your content for search (SEO). Finally, you must reformat and optimize content to fit the platform you are posting in (e.g. blog, social media, web page). Let’s take a brief look at what proper presentation, relevance, and optimization include.
The presentation of your content should:
- Be organized & easy to scan for all the main points,
- Make good use of white space & headings,
- Be free of spelling & grammatical errors,
- Use a font that is easy to read & has good contrast (black text on white background is almost always best).
Your website content must also be relevant to the needs of your target market and remain consistent with the theme of your website.
I know we are all anxious to let others know about how great our products, services, and businesses are. And, sometimes we like to put pages about kittens on our business website because, well, they are just so darn cute! But, neither of these things is customer focused and will hurt your effectiveness. Studies have shown that visitors to a website just want to know one or more of the following things:
- Benefits – What’s in it for them?
- Problem Solving – Can you help them fix THEIR problem?
- Investment – What will it cost them to make this ‘fix’ happen?
Anything else will just detract from your core message. If you want to talk about yourself or your company, do it on the about page. If you have any hobbies or special interests you want to write about, start a separate blog. Make sure your content remains customer focused. Remove any content that does not align with one or more of the goals listed above. Content that is relevant to the needs of your target market is not only important to your visitors, it is important to Google!
Speaking of Google, did you know they judge your web pages each time their friendly bots visit? This brings us to our last point; Where relevance meets optimization.
This is not a post on how to perform SEO. I will touch on that subject a bit in my post on Reason # 3: “Lack of Focus.” But for now, I will mention three things to keep in mind to improve your effectiveness with Google.
First, apply the points I made in the sections on presentation & relevance to your content. If you do this, you will already be on the way to optimizing your content.
Next, make sure each page has a focus. I won’t get into keywords right now, but they WILL need to be part of your content strategy. What I mean by focus here is that each page needs to have a core theme. For example, if you provide services, create a separate page for each service. Google needs to know what your web page is about so it can index it and decide where to place it in search results. If Google is forced to guess, you won’t like the results!
Finally, you need to keep your content fresh. We no longer live in a time when you can put a website up, forget it and hope for it to be effective. Google is aggressive at looking for content that is new or different when their bots hit your site. Blog posts are one of the easiest ways to keep content fresh. But, you will need to do more than that if you want to compete for search page rankings.
First, Yoast has a great class on writing website content for SEO HERE. If you are serious about ranking better with Google and you write your own content, this is a must. It is only $299 and is well worth the money!
Next, understand that aside from some natural ability, copywriting it is a learned skill. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t deliver quality content to your visitors on your own. It just means that you need to be willing to put out some extra effort into learning how.
Finally, apply each of the tips I have provided in this post to your website content. Don’t be afraid to ask for copywriting help if you need it. You may even want to have someone write content for you and then use it as a model to learn from.
Next up, Reason #2 “Lack of Direction”