The catch with web content is that is must be fresh and original to be most effective. If it’s not, the content can do more harm than good. Content is the one element that can keep customers coming back to your site time and again. When customers return often, your site ranking improves, because the traffic registers the site with search crawlers as a valid and in-demand site.
When your content stinks, though, your site is headed in the opposite direction. If you have content that’s not professional, the search engine crawler will register this, your ranking may drop and you could possibly be delisted altogether.
How do you know if your content stinks or not? It’s mostly a game of finding the right combination of content types and consistent updates. But before you can even get to determining the right type of content, you need to create a content strategy.
Your content strategy is the plan by which you’ll infuse your site with the right types of content at the right times. It starts with determining how to reach your target audience. By now your target audience should be engraved on your forehead, but how you reach that audience is something entirely different. If your audience is teens, the language and method with which you’ll reach them will be different than if your audience is senior adults or stay-at-home mums, or even full-time professionals.
Next, determine what users will benefit from visiting your site. Visitors click through a link looking for something. If you don’t provide some benefit, the users will click away nearly as fast as they found you. When determining what value you have to offer, don’t think in terms of your desire to bring users to your site, think in terms of what those users are seeking. What do they want?
Along with determining users’ reasons for coming to your site, you should also be considering why they might want to return to your site. Do you have regular sales? Is there some form of dynamic content, like a blog or news page, that would draw them back? What other types of media might you include on your site, and what value would that be to your visitors (for example, using videos or podcasting to present training materials)?
Only when you’ve figured out what you can give your site visitors should you determine what you want from them. If you want them to sign up for a newsletter or make a purchase, include a call to action on your site and provide the tools they’ll need to complete the task that you want them to complete. Every page on your web site should have a purpose. You have to determine, on every page of your site, what it is you want from visitors.
Next you need to determine what type of content you plan to include on your site to meet all the needs that have been defined by the preceding questions. There are several different types of content, and each type has its own implications:
- Licensed Content: Licensed content is what you might buy from a content broker. For example, if you’re looking for a quick way to populate your site with articles, you might turn to a company like FreeSticky.com that offers many different articles you can use. The problem with this type of content is that it’s often repeated all over the Internet. You’re not the only one who will need to populate your site, and others will likely use some of the same services you do.
- Original Content: There are several types of original content. There’s the content you write and share with others for free. This is a good way to get links back to your site. You can use the content for a limited amount of time exclusively on your own site and then allow others to use it for nothing more than a link back to your site. This incoming link adds credibility to your site.
- Another type of original content is that which is distributed freely by visitors to your site. This original content can take the form of comments on your site or forum message boards. This type of original content is an excellent addition to your SEO efforts, because it tends to be focused on a specific subject.
- Some original content is exclusive to your site. This is content that you create, and the only place it appears is your web site. This is the most valuable type of content for your site, and it’s the type search engine crawlers like the best. Think of it as giving the crawler some variety in its diet. It gets tired of the same thing day in and day out, just like we do. The more original and exclusive content you can provide for a crawler, the better you’ll rank in search results. It also doesn’t hurt if that content has an appropriate number of keywords in it
- Dynamic Content: Dynamic content can be licensed or original. Blogs are the perfect example of dynamic content.
Once you have all these elements decided upon, you can begin to create your content. It sounds easy enough, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Not only does your copy need to be compelling to people, but it also needs to be focused to help increase search engine rankings. What tips do you have for other webmasters wanting to create content for their sites? Do you have a content strategy, if so, how well does it work?