THE JUMP-START GUIDE TO CREATING AMAZING CONTENT
The world wide web is flexible and always changing. This rule should apply to your website content as well.
If a viewer doesn’t feel a website is “alive” with fresh content, promotions, and ideas, they can only assume it is “dead”. In other words, it feels like an abandoned building, with no trace of life inside of it.
Creating a website of truly valuable content not only gives your site credibility, but also positions your company as an industry expert in your customer’s eyes. The more professional and useful your content is, the more credible your product or service becomes.
Creating amazing content is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. But it takes some skill, creativity, practice, and patience.
If you’re new to creating website content, we got you covered! This handy jump-start guide will put you on the right path to creating amazing content.
KEY INGREDIENTS FOR CREATING AMAZING CONTENT
There are tons of reasons why people use the internet. However, internet users are generally looking for one or more of the following:
Provide at least one of these key ingredients, and your website is on its’ way to attracting some loyal customers.
A website that effectively combines all three of these key ingredients, has the capacity to create an enormously successful online presence. Furthermore, a website whose content and information create an overall trusted resource for users, translates into solid sales for the business.
LOW-COST WAYS TO GENERATE FRESH, AMAZING CONTENT
One of the most common ways businesses keep their website looking new, is by designing five to ten different home pages and then switching them around each month.
Spend a week or two coming up with different home page ideas. One idea is to create random home page promotions with timeless messages and images. You can also have a little fun with the seasons by planning a “Holiday Special” or “Spooky Halloween Sale”.
Coming up with different home page features all at once will encourage you to plan out your marketing efforts for the year. More importantly, it will save you time in the long run because you won’t have to think about your website content again for at least 12 months.
Ask your web developer to put these new home pages on a timer or rotating script. The home pages can be set up to automatically rotate to showcase: a new coupon, tip of the month, featured product, or “Back to School” sale.
Think of your home page as being like a magazine cover. You wouldn’t subscribe to a magazine that had the same photo and copy on the cover every month. So why would you keep your home page the same month after month? And just like a magazine cover, you wouldn’t feature all of your content on the home page (your readers would be overwhelmed!). It’s much more effective to choose one or two key features or products to showcase.
The rest of your products and information should be organized within the appropriate pages of your site. When it’s time to update your home page, simply pull content from these other pages. This way, you don’t have to create any new content, just reorganize it so it looks new to the visitor.
THE DANGERS OF CHANGING YOUR WEBSITE TOO MUCH
Although you want your website to stay looking fresh, you’re only asking for trouble if you change it too much. Web users look for comfort in their favorite sites, and comfort comes from familiarity. You run the risk of confusing visitors and could also compromise your search engine positioning if your website doesn’t maintain a core consistency.
Visitors Could Become Confused
The most important thing to remember when updating your home page with new content, is not to confuse your visitors. Changing a story or graphic on your homepage, shouldn’t change the entire look and feel of your site. Customers should be able to easily find the same information they always have. The navigation tools and section headers should never change.
Think about it like this – how would you feel if your favorite website that you log onto every day, got a whole new redesign? You would get confused and frustrated! So be consistent with your main navigation and site features. Swap images and stories for similar images or stories.
You want your site to appear fresh without appearing like a totally different site. Don’t take out your customer log-in graphic and substitute it with something else, or update your job openings section with a new product section.
This just gets confusing.
Take online banking for instance. I know exactly where to log-on to check my account and exactly where to look for banking advice or promotions. Even though they are constantly featuring new graphics or promotions on the home page, it’s not confusing. Essentially, the core navigation, colors and themes are consistent.
There is certain comfort to a website that is always consistent. If you can depend on a website to provide you with the information you expect, then you’re likely to anticipate consistent quality service as well. For small businesses, gaining a customer’s trust (and therefore business) is often synonymous with dependability and consistency.
You Could Hurt Your Search Engine Optimization
Making drastic changes to your home page content can also be hurtful to your search engine optimization (SEO). Some search engines “spider” sites anywhere from three weeks to three months from submission. Without going into too much detail, search engines look at every part of your website. The longer that certain keywords stay consistent, the higher your site will be ranked. Search engines don’t want to feel that they were “tricked” into indexing your site for one thing, then have your content change to reflect something else.
To avoid this common problem, you must find a balance between keeping things similar and keeping things looking new. The best way to accomplish this is to keep the majority of your home page the same and change only a fraction of it. That way, visitors will still get fresh content, but you won’t have to worry about your site dropping off the charts.
BENEFITS OF A FLEXIBLE HOME PAGE
Firstly, you and your web developer need to master the art of keeping your home page updated while not changing the core content of your site. After that, you’re on your way to experiencing the valuable benefits of a flexible home page.
Test Campaigns and Track Successes
Having a flexible home page gives your business a testing ground for all of your offline marketing efforts. Before you sink your hard-earned dollars into a newspaper or magazine ad, test it out on your website. See how users react. You can easily use your home page to find out which featured products or coupons attract the most sales. You can also test which image generates the most interest in your company.
To obtain this type of information, you will need access to web tracking software. Through web tracking software, you can get detailed market data. Getting access to a web tracking program is most often just a simple upgrade to your existing hosting package.
KEEP FOCUSED ON YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Creating amazing content doesn’t just refer to enticing promotions, stories, or graphics. It refers to anything on your website that encourages positive communication, reaction, and interaction with your target audience. All while delivering them important information about your product, company, and service. Great content can include message boards, video clips, or anything else that makes your customer excited about your website and product.
However, be sure your content is relevant and appeals to your target audience. For example, you don’t want a loud audio promotion if your most common customer is an executive logging on from work. Knowing your target audience is the key to generating the most results from your website content.
DON’T FORGET IMAGES
We recommend buying images. You can find very inexpensive, high-quality web images. Spending a couple hundred dollars to get a few great images is always worth it. Professional images can make all the difference in giving your website a professional feel.
BUYING WRITTEN CONTENT
We do not recommend buying written content. Although there are many services out there that will write content for your website, it is simply not cost-effective for small businesses to buy such a service. Many of these services are aimed at large companies with a huge internet staff. Even if you subscribed to one of these content providers, you would still have to spend the time to choose which stories were appropriate for your website, then make the effort to post them on your site.
BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR CONTENT
The goal of using content is to make your website/product/company appear credible. And it takes only a couple of well-written, timeless articles to make this work. No one expects a small-business website to be the hub of all information related to your industry.
Content for small businesses is not expected to be original, just useful. Your choice of content should show the customer that you care enough about them to provide articles on anything that may relate to your specific product or service.
Realistically, most people do not log on to a small-businesses website every day, or even once a month, so be sure to label content as new or post a date next to it. After all, the purpose of updating your site is to let new customers as well as existing ones know that there are real people who care about customer service behind that website.