You will have heard the phrase ‘content is king’ and seen lots of blogs and heard experts talking about how important it is to have good content on your website but actually, what does that mean? This blog takes a look at what makes good content and why it’s so important to the success of your website.
What is good content?
When we refer to web content we’re talking about the ‘stuff’ on your site. Predominantly, for the purposes of this blog, I’m talking about the written word but actually web content can include images, videos, diagrams, flowcharts, statistics etc – basically the material on your website that imparts some kind of information to the visitor and, equally as important, the search engines.
While every site has some kind of content not every one has ‘good’ content – high quality content that enriches the experience of those visiting the site and is search engine friendly to improve its rankings.
So, what makes good content? The answer to this will depend on your audience: what makes a fascinating read for one person may be of no interest to another. In general terms good content will tick at least a few of the following boxes:
• Informs – it answers the typical questions that your visitors are likely to ask
• Imparts knowledge – it has content that the visitor can take away and use eg tips/advice/recommendations etc
• Entertains – humour can be a great way to capture the interest of your audience as long as it’s appropriate to your visitors and your business
• Clarifies – it explains things in clear language that the visitor can understand
• Is timely – by writing about something that is very topical – an event, time of year, news story etc – you can take advantage of things that are current and trending
• Is relevant – content should always be relevant to its audience. If you can create content that resonates with people it will differentiate you from your competitors
• Humanises – this is a bit of a buzz word but it basically means that you can use your content to show a human side to the business. When your products and services are very similar to other competitors, showing a human side that customers can relate to can make all the difference
• Tells stories – using stories to demonstrate your competitive advantage can be very powerful
• Reassures – most web visitors, when they get to your site, are in the market for your products and want to buy from you. After all they don’t want to trawl through lots of sites – they just need reassurances that you are the right company to buy from. Consider their concerns and queries and make sure you provide the answers
• Is not overly sales driven – of course you need content on your site that sells your products and services but it’s a good idea to have some content on there that isn’t driving an overt sales message – nobody enjoys being sold to. Your sales messages will still be implicit through less direct methods eg by providing added value content such as a ‘how to’ guide you give some limited knowledge away whilst establishing your own credibility.
• Is written well – it seems obvious but a lot of sites are guilty of adding content to please the search engines and not the visitor. Clearly this is counter-productive as not only will it offer no value to the visitor but it’s actually likely to be penalised by Google for attempting to artificially ‘force’ the SEO – they know the difference!
• Follows the principles of SEO – content that is written with SEO in mind make it easier for the search engines to index them
Why Does Good Web Content Matter?
At a very basic level it matters because it enhances the visitor experience and improves search engine rankings but there is more to it than that. Great content is important because of the following:
• If your content is good, visitors are more likely to read more of it, digest your key messages, navigate around the site and stay on it for longer. This is gives you a higher chance of conversion (eg buying from your site, making an enquiry etc) and shows the search engines that your site is good (Google looks at metrics such as length of time spent on a site, number of pages viewed etc as an indicator of quality) which helps its rankings.
- Good content is more likely to attract inbound links (links to your site from external sites) which search engines also use as a metric
- Good content is more likely to be shared (eg through social media) which is good for search engine rankings and for reaching a larger audience
- It allows people who are in the market for your products and services to find you – much better than marketing to people who may not even have a need! See my blog on the subject.
- Search engines actually seek out sites that have good, regularly updated, unique content and reward them in the rankings. Likewise they will penalise sites that don’t have good content or who try to ‘cheat’ with their SEO
- It establishes your credibility and authority in your field eg your ‘About’ page may well say you can do XYZ but your blog or your case studies demonstrate that you really can.
- People value content that they can use
- Good quality content that is regularly updated will keep visitors coming back and the more they return, the higher the chance of conversion
- It can allow you to capture valuable information in a responsible way through things like squeeze pages (ie pages that offer an incentive such as a free guide or report or entry into a prize draw in return for signing up to a mailing list or providing some kind of data).
Good content, therefore, reaps its own rewards. Because it provides something for both visitors AND search engines there is much to be gained from making sure the content that is on your site is as good as it can be. This may mean raising your own game in terms of producing better content or getting some help but whatever you do, don’t just reproduce your sales brochure online – you’re going to have to try a bit harder than that!