Updated: Jan. 31, 2016
Web Development Demands Content
Our Charlottesville web design and development clients often hear us say that a good design is essential for online success but not the only requirement.
The most common mistake new website owners make is focusing only on appearance. Some call this “web design” and some call it artistic layout. Call it what you will. It is a great start, but not enough.
This article explains why web content is also necessary and suggests where to find it. I wrote this for small business owners, although not-for-profit organizations often face similar web development and content development obstacles.
First Objective: Generating Web Site Traffic
The first objective for any business website is to rank high enough in the search engines that prospective customers will find the site. Let’s begin by examining how content affects search engine results.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It’s hard to build traffic for your website unless it appears high in the search results for phrases your target visitors are using when searching for your type of business or organization. For this reason, developing a search engine friendly website is critical to establishing an effective online presence.
You may appreciate beautiful design, and visitors who can find your site may love it, but search engines don’t evaluate artistic presentation. Search engines read and index your text. Period.
Original Copy, Please
If you remember only one idea from this article, remember this: To achieve high search engine rankings, publish original content on your website. Google and Yahoo are not impressed with canned websites that regurgitate material published elsewhere. Your site will be in a far better position to achieve impressive results for a keyword phrase if the search engines decide your site is contributing unique content, relevant to the search topic.
Conversions, Our Second Objective
What happens when prospects find your site? Do they stay long enough to take the next step towards becoming a customer?
The second element all websites share is the ability to motivate visitors to take the desired action. The desired behavior will vary from one website to the next, but generally speaking, this action is called a “conversion.”
High search results are essential, but reaching your website goals will also require conversions. Accomplishing both objectives combines art and science and is a hallmark of effective, professionally developed websites.
Finding Unique Content
Where do you find informative, original content for your site? If you own the business, the best content is already in your head. You are an expert in your field and THE expert on your business. After all, who knows more about your company than you do?
What Can You Discuss?
Begin by asking yourself what prospective customers will want to know about your business. What does your company do? What is your area of expertise? What sets you apart from your competition? Make a list of questions customers often ask and jot down your answers. Don’t worry about the grammar, just write down or type your thoughts. If you take the time to do this, you will have plenty of valuable, raw material for your website.
Want more content? Jot down ideas for some articles that would be of interest to your customers. “How to” articles are an excellent way to generate valuable content for your site. Your visitors will appreciate the information and so will the search engines!
Your content must impress the search engines to rank well.
Your content must be captivating enough to command visitors’ attention, inspiring enough to gain their confidence, and motivating enough to compel them to take the desired action.
Your copy will need to be crafted to appeal to your audience and the search engines. Writing effective website copy is a balancing act best performed by an accomplished web copywriter.
Unless you or one of your staff members is a talented copywriter, preferably with experience in search engine optimization copywriting, your site will benefit by hiring a professional web writer for this part of the project.