You have a website, now what? Part 1: Creating Great Content
If you’re in business, there’s a good chance you already have a website. If you don’t, stop reading now and give me a call. But if you do, you might be wondering, “now what?”
Building a website is challenging. Whether you DIY or have someone build it for you, it takes time and money…and that adds up. When your website is finally live, it feels like you’ve reached the finish line.
But really, you’ve just started.
This is a multipart series to help you understand websites from an agency perspective. My experience spans more than 12 years in small business and organizational marketing. I want to share with you tips, tools, and resources that can help you market like a pro.
Part One: Creating Great Content
What your website says is as important - arguably more important - than how it looks.
There are two reasons for this:
Reason #1: Content, which can be text, photos, and/or video, is what people see and read when they get to your site. The information should answer the basic questions:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Where you’re located
- How to interact with you (that is buy your product or service, or support your cause)
Reason #2: Content is also where search engines surface keywords and information about your business to rank you in search engine results.
How to create great content
The way to make anything great is by doing your research. There are two types of research that are important for a website. The first is audience research and the second is keyword research.
Knowing your audience is critical to creating great content. You’re not trying to reach everyone - you’re trying to reach the right people.
Understand who needs the products or services you offer. If you have an agritourism operation, you're probably trying to attract families - so speak to them and have pictures of families on your website. For a wedding venue, an obvious audience is brides and grooms, but don’t forget about the parents - afterall, they’re usually the ones footing the bill.
Keyword research is another important step. We call our farms operations and we call ourselves producers - but those words mean something totally different to the average person.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes (that’s why audience research is important!) and consider what words they will search for. Try it out on google yourself, enter keywords that you think people might look up to find you.
A hint…scroll down to the bottom of the page below the search results for a list of other keywords that people have searched that are related to the one you entered.
2. Don’t use industry jargon.
I mentioned this above. Just like the average person thinks an operation is a surgery you have in the hospital - so does the search engine. I’m not saying you can sprinkle them in here or there or get technical when you need to. But, your website should be easy for the average person to understand.
3. It’s a website, not a thesis.
Complex sentences and bloated vocabulary don’t really have a place on a website. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible.
People scan websites.
Each paragraph should have one main point and be about 2 to 6 sentences in length. Vary sentence structure and length to make the text easier to read. Break up long sections of content with headings and subheadings. Try not to have more than 300 words in a section before you use a new heading or subheading.
A substantive page has about 500 words. If you have less than that, ask yourself if you really need a dedicated page for the topic.
4. Avoid passive voice.
Passive voice is a stylistic issue that can weaken the clarity of your writing. It happens when your subject is being acted upon - receiving the action expressed by the verb rather than doing the action.
Why was the road crossed by the chicken?
Why did the chicken cross the road?
5. Speak to the reader.
Use the word “you” and “your” to draw the reader into your website. Instead of saying, “We host wedding events for couples,” say, “We will help you plan the perfect wedding event.” People came to your website for a reason, make them feel like they’ve already made the right choice.
6. Use proper grammar and spelling.
OK, this probably goes without saying. I’m guilty of using poor grammar and misspelling words. It happens. A couple tricks:
- Look it up if you’re not sure
- Read it out loud
- Have someone else read what you wrote
- Write it and walk away. Mistakes are easier to catch after you’ve had some distance.
7. Tell them what’s in it for them.
You’re proud of your business. You want to talk about what you do. But your customer just wants to know, "what's in it for me?"
Why should your customer care? What problem can you solve for them? If you haven’t already written a value proposition statement, you need to. Here’s how
8. Keep it fresh.
Revisit your website every few months and update old content. If you’re up to it, add a blog - I’ll write more on that in this series later. People don’t interact with your website on a regular basis like they do your social media. But, the search engines do. Keeping the content fresh and up to date will help your site rank better.
What Makes Great Content?
To recap, great content is:
- Well researched
- Written for the average person to understand
- Simple and to the point
- Written in active voice
- Focused on the reader
- Written with proper grammar and spelling
- Something people care about
Stay tuned for the rest of this series, “You have a website, now what.”
Next, I’ll be talking about search engine optimization (SEO), inbound links (what they are and how to get them), and tips for keeping a blog and galleries on your website.
Until next time, remember…#BeAmazing