What you are reading right now is the web content of this page I’ve created. Content simply means written text. Because the bots or spiders a search engine deploys are looking eagerly for unique web content to index, in order to be able to offer useful pages to searchers, the practice of writing search-engine-friendly web content has become a bit of an art form. By unique, I mean that the content isn’t simply cut and pasted from some other source you found on the Internet. It needs to be your own work, written in your own words.
The goal of making your website rich in the written word is two-fold:
1. You are offering your knowlege freely to your website’s visitors. Whether you sell camping gear and can offer a tutorial on setting up a tent, or you are a professional chef and can share your recipe for strawberry shortcake, you have expertise that will be valuable to other people. Give away some of what you know and this will prove that you are an authority on your subject, give your visitors a reason to feel loyal to you, and may create new customers for your business.
2. The written word is the medium you use to let the search engine bots know what your pages and your business is all about. By making sure that your website’s pages focus on the keyword phrases that are key to your business, the bots will be able to understand which searches your pages are relevant to.
A Word Of Advice About Keywords In Your Copy
When we started working on the web, it was not uncommon to find ridiculously spammy websites featuring content that read like this:
Buy our wooden coat racks because wooden coat racks are made of wood and are the best coat racks for your coat because wooden coat racks are sturdy.
Say what??? This silly-looking type of copy was written with the sole purpose of trying to artificially manipulate the bots into ranking a page highly. Once upon a time, this technique actually worked, but the search engines are smarter now, and a page like this is of no value to anyone – not you, your visitors or the bots. It was a happy day when web developers and copywriters began urging their clients to start writing for people, not for search engines, and I am very relieved that the search engines have grown too smart to be fooled by this type of nonsense.
When writing copy for your website, stick to these guidelines:
Pretend you are the editor-in-chief of the New York Times and set yourself the task of writing the most polished, informative and interesting copy for your website that you can produce. Many smart businesses are now hiring professional copywriters to create their product descriptions, company bios and articles because it has become so clear that top-quality reading materials win loyalty for websites, just as they do for popular print magazines. Do the very best you can. Edit for grammar, spelling, tone and clarity. Your copy can make all the difference in the world between looking untrustworthy or totally professional.
Apart from winning customers and high rankings, terrific content has an additional potential benefit that is very important to all website owners. Popular copy wins voluntary links from other websites, and this has a direct effect on your search engine rankings. An entire business model has evolved around the creation of web content that becomes an instant success on the web, going to the top of Social Media sites like Digg and winning scores of backlinks for the publisher. This content may be in the form of a written article, images or video. Because search engines place such a high value on links, the development of popular content can have a tremendous impact on a company’s success, both online and offline.
Suggestions For Creating Valuable Website Content
Interviews With Experts
If you are fortunate enough to have contact with big names in your industry, you might ask them for an interview and offer the transcript of it on your website (with their permission, of course). For instance, if you are in the technology field, and can interview Bill Gates, chances are, everyone is going to want to read your article and link to it, and tell their friends about it. Obviously, this is a bit of a far-fetched example for most people, but nearly all fields have their known experts. Do you know any of them? Or, could you manage to contact an expert, and simply get a few quotes from them? Think hard!
Reviews and Criticism
Depending upon the field you are in, reviewing and critiquing new products or services which are making big headlines can bring folks to your site. They may either agree or disagree with your opinions, but if they come in the door, that’s traffic won for your site.
For hobbyists, home and garden sites and a number of other industries, truly helpful how-to guides can win links and traffic. The popularity of the subject will, of course, greatly determine how much traffic you get.
Surveys and Polls
If these are on a big enough scale, and you have collected a considerable amount of data, providing accurate, newsworthy statistics can win you links and traffic.
Jokes and Humorous Editorials
Believe it or not, jokes are one of the most likely things to get linked to and be passed around by people. Keep it clean…you don’t want your web site to look seedy; you wish to present a professional appearance. Humorous editorials about popular subjects in your industry can also have this same traffic-getting effect.
Whether you are offering free crafting patterns, free tools that do mortgage payment calculations or free gifts to the 100th buyer of your handmade windchimes, history that far precedes the dawn of the Internet shows that offering free stuff is a great way to get people in the door. Don’t be gimmicky with this. No flashing stuff or popping stuff that’s going to distract from the business aspect of your site. But a judicious use of a free product or service offer can get you loads of traffic and many valuable inbound links.
By containing your content within the blogging format, you will be jumping the interactivity of your website up to an exciting new level. Blogs enable your visitors to leave comments about what you publish. This gives you the opportunity to converse with your readers who may then become your customers. We consider blogging to be one of the most critical efforts small business owners can make to increase their visibility and establish their authority.
With the advent of video sharing sites like YouTube.com, the ability to publish video content has become accessible to nearly everyone. And, because Google shows video results in their main, organic search engine listings, getting a video ranked on the front page of Google can mean a tremendous increase in traffic for your business. In addition to posting your videos on video sharing sites, you can embed them directly into your website’s pages. Imagine a video showing you making your handmade candles, cooking up a special dish at your restaurant, showing before-and-after photos of your latest landscaping contract. Video has fantastic ability to show off your skills and offer a very personable welcome to visitors.
Website content encompasses many kinds of media, from print to podcasts to video, and it is what you’ll be investing your time and money in developing in your efforts to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
In a word, EVERYWHERE! Turn your product pages into interesting mini-articles about each of the items you are selling. Make your About Us page a document of changes happening in your company, and the directions you’ll be branching out into in the future. Create a little box on your homepage where you publish news snippets related to your business and your industry, or do features on new products or services you’re offering. Stangnant websites look dead to people and bots, so make sure your goals for your business include a plan for consistent development of new content.
I have found this approach to be so much more effective than the silly, spammy techniques so many people use to try to win rankings and traffic. I write because I think people will benefit from my expertise. My area of expertise happens to be in the field of web design and SEO. Your area of expertise lies in whatever your business is about. For more information on this subject, you may wish to read my article, Why is Google Discontent with your Web Content?
So, what we’ve now learned is that your web site is going to be deemed of higher value by the search engines and by the public if you are offering things to read as well as things to buy. We’ve also learned that if you come up with a truly terrific page of some kind, you may win valuable links from outside sources, thus greatly increasing your worth to the search engines. We’ve explored a few options for creating good, traffic-worthy content. Beyond this, your creativity and research of your market are going to be your best guides for coming up with web content that sets your small business apart in the competitive Internet marketplace. We are now ready to move on to the next step.