Content is one of the most important aspects of any website. With the rise of inbound marketing, content has become front and center in the minds of marketers. It's what search engines and people want. It's what drives visitors to your site and turns prospects into leads. Take a look at these must-haves for creating killer website content.
There are four basic questions you need to ask yourself regarding the content of your website.
- Will people know what I do within seconds?
- Will they understand what page they’re on and what it’s about?
- Will they know what to do next?
- Why should they buy/subscribe/download from this site instead of from someone else?
Ideally, you want your visitors to know the answers to these questions. It should be readily apparent what your site is about, what they can do there, and why they should take action. On your homepage and most important pages, consider these helpful tips in delivering the right message:
- Create a few headlines and sub-headline ideas. To combat question No. 4 (why should I buy from you?), use a powerful value proposition and steer clear of generic clichés, gobbledygook terms, and corporate speak.
- Make sure to include clear call-to-actions and next steps. Include links in your body copy, next step links at the end of the copy, and calls-to-action wherever appropriate. Include a little direction, and you’ll be glad you did.
- Test your copy. For the most accurate indication of a winning headline, use A/B testing to determine which variation drives the most conversions. You can use tools like HubSpot’s A/B Testing Tools or Google’s Website Optimizer or services like 5 Second Test.
Educate and Offer Value
Even though the purpose of a corporate website is to provide information about your products and services, not everyone is ready to buy when they first hit your site. Second, remember it’s not all about you. What’s in it for them?
- Offer more than just product content. Provide eBooks, whitepapers, videos, and other forms of content that are educational. This will nurture prospects through your marketing and sales funnel until they are ready to buy, and sending them valuable information will help them realize you’re not just sending out a pushy sales pitch.
- In product-specific content, write as if you are speaking directly to your audience. Use words like “you,” and “we.” Be transparent. Make yourself sound human. Speak their language.
- Write your product content as if you are helping your readers solve their problems. Avoid “we are the best” speak and instead use “this is how we help you....”
Importance of Quality
Everyone knows having a lot of content is a good thing, but in the days where search engines are getting smarter and buyers are becoming more selective, quality content is truly king.
Quality content is a definite must-have for any website. Best practices include:
- Offering unique content. People love this and so do search engines.
- Writing for humans, not search engines. People don’t read like robots.
- Providing value and educational content that helps others.
- Doing your research when paying for content that is written by third-party services. Some work well, others do not.
- Keeping content fresh. Having news that’s two years old still sitting on your homepage will probably give your visitors a bad feeling.
- Knowing your audience. Providing content that is specific to your buyers makes it more relevant for them, and in turn, higher quality.
- Including evidence when needed. If stating facts, numbers, awards, testimonials, etc., try to back it up with a source and give credit when credit is due.
- Knowing your subject well. You probably don’t want an auto mechanic writing about brain surgery. Accurate content equals quality.
A professional image is necessary, but you still want to avoid the dreaded corporate gobbledygook. What is gobbledygook you ask? Great question.
These are jargon terms and phrases that have been over-used and abused rendering them meaningless (you’ll find them mostly in the high-tech and B2B industry). These words are meant to add more emphasis of a particular subject, but instead they make your eyes roll.
Avoid these words on your website and in other materials whenever possible:
- Next generation
- Easy to use
- Cutting edge
- Best of breed
- Mission critical
And so on... I think I’ve put you through enough torture
Be Clear, Not Clever
For years, advertising has tricked us into thinking that catchy and creative headlines and phrases work well at capturing our attention. They might have for a while but not so much anymore. As consumers we are tired of advertising trickery, marketing cliques, and surreptitious methods of persuasion. We don’t want to be lied to, gimmicked, or fooled. We just want the truth!
Wouldn’t it be easier to get the point in our content instead of trying to persuade others?
If you focus your content on being clear, not clever, you will find that more people will place their trust in you. Be careful not to make things more complicated than they need to be. Use simple words that are easy to understand. Your goal is to be understood. Just be clear with what you want people to do on your site. You will gain more fans and followers in the long-run.
Blogging is without a doubt one of the most important assets to any inbound marketing strategy, and it’s a perfect complement to your website.
Here are some reasons why you really need a blog:
- It creates fresh content and more pages of content, which is great for SEO.
- It helps establish you as an industry authority and thought leader.
- It helps drive more traffic and leads back to your website.
- It’s a great channel to converse and engage with your audience and customers.
- It’s a great way to get valuable inbound links!
Blogging isn’t as difficult as you think. There are plenty of blogging tools you can use to get started. If the ability to create content regularly is your main concern, there are inexpensive blog writing services (called Content Marketplaces) like Zerys and WriterAccess that will help you get started.
Make Content Shareable and Social
Social media websites have seen exponential growth in the past decade and continue to grow larger every day. Oftentimes people will “Like” a post, product, or blog entry, causing all of their friends to see what they like and even provide them with a link to find it themselves.
Consider this type of network effect for your own website. Make it just as easy for people to share and socialize about your content and resources. It’s almost blindingly obvious why you should take advantage of this opportunity. Providing people with excellent content that can be shared with their peers will surely increase your flow of traffic.
- Add a sharing widget or plugin to every page on your site. This will enable visitors to share your pages via all the major social networks. Tools like AddThis or ShareThis are easy to install and provide you with analytic tracking as well.
- If you’re on a blogging platform like HubSpot or Wordpress, there are plug-ins available that enable people to share your articles and auto-publish content to your social networks.
Use Multiple Forms of Content
Content is more than just the written word. Media and utilities are excellent forms of content that can turn a text- heavy site into something that pleases the viewing preferences of multiple audiences.
Content takes place in the form of:
- Imagery (including infographics)
- Online utility tools (e.g. Website Grader)
- You name it! Try using many different forms of content to create a better user experience.
No matter what you’re selling, potential buyers like to see confirmation that you’ve made other customers happy. Testimonials, customer reviews, and case studies are powerful sources of content for moving prospects even closer to the final buying stages.
Provide authentic customer stories, and don’t hide these behind a form!
Place short, powerful testimonials on your site, and include real names, titles, and photos with your testimonials. This adds authenticity. Not including a name makes a testimonial seem phony even if it’s real.
Instead of randomly placing testimonials on any page, consider placing testimonials on certain topics on the pages relevant to them. For example, if you have a quote about your awesome customer service, place that on a service or support page. If you have one for your convenient return policy, place that somewhere in a shopping cart or pricing page.
The more proof you have, the better. Make it part of your strategy to collect case studies and testimonials when possible. Leverage other online sites that provide reviews, such as Yelp (for local businesses) or industry-specific directories like Capterra (for software providers).
Check back next week for the final post in this series, which focuses on web conversion.