Quality web design is so much more than having an attractive logo and a pretty webpage. While these presentation elements are desirable, having quality content is far more important. A website is a virtual storefront for your company. It is an electronic market stall. It should not just merely exist, it must perform.
One of the key ways to engage customers is to have quality content. Search engines try to move sites with the best quality content to the top of the list as they are programmed to provide the most informative and useful content to the user. The importance of having quality content cannot be understated.
Search Engine Optimisation and Content
Content needs to be search engine optimised. You must research keywords relating to your business. This is an essential move. To have search engine optimised content means that your content contains the keywords and phrases that people actually use when searching for a topic. Having SEO content moves the website up the Google rankings and ensures that your website and indeed your product or business has visibility. Visibility to customers can easily translate to increased sales for your product or service. Patrick Naughton has written a guide on SEO which explains this in greater detail.
There was a trend in the recent past for websites to ‘stuff ‘ articles with keywords in the hope that this would elevate their search engine rankings .A change to Google’s algorithm has discouraged this practice. It is important to use keywords judiciously.
Know your audience
While it is important to have search engine optimised content it is also important to write for human beings and not search engines! Try to engage the reader, inject humour where possible and appropriate and use paragraphs well. No one likes to read large blocks of text, especially online, so when possible try to intersperse text with quality images that relate to the topic you are writing about.
Try to think about content that is shareable and linkable. Use evidence when necessary and know your subject matter. Always learn who your audience is and try as best you can to offer them something unique. Make a concerted effort to produce content that is decidedly different than the next company offering the same product or service as you. Update your site regularly with news regarding your company, new staff, awards or industry recognition. This keeps the site current and also adds to your company’s credibility as an online presence.
Avoid duplicate content
It is extremely important not to have duplicate content. In many cases having duplicate content occurs when a business is offering many similar products, many feel it is more expedient to have one product description and just change the name or specifications for each product, leaving the core paragraph(s) unchanged. This is a practice that must be avoided. Try to have unique content on every page. If Google’s algorithm detects duplicate content your site will be penalised and it will not perform well in searches.
How quality content reflects on you and your business
Having quality content on your site is an advertisement for you and your business. If a reader is engaged with a well reasoned, informative article or a quality description of a product or service the reader, and potential customer will be more kindly disposed to your business. This small degree of good will can be easily transferred to increased interest in your services or products. Conversely, having inferior or ‘thin’ content can have the opposite effect and can be found by readers to be uninspiring. This practice equates to laziness to readers. The reader may view another website offering the same product or service that may engage the reader more and they may choose to purchase from them.
Engaging the reader
Content should be viewed as an avenue to keep readers or potential customers engaged with your site, all the while promoting your product and service.The end result should be a sale or some form of interaction, such as a brochure download for example. It is important to include a ‘call-to-action’ at the end of an article or product description .This is something that promotes the reader to take the next step such as a free download, consultation etc. It keeps the reader engaged and may lead to sales.
It is important that fresh quality content is generated often and that your website develops with your company. This practice of generating quality, original content keeps your site current and will promote multiple visits to your site. Visitors need to feel that they will learn something new every time they visit your site. The quality of your content is often the deciding factor in whether an individual wants to do business with you.
Fresh ways of presenting content
It is not expensive to have quality content on your site. There is no need to spend a lot of money and there are many different ways to present your content;
- Useful tutorials
- Reports and White Papers
- Rich Media Content (e.g. Videos)
By utilising a mix of different styles of presentation of content you are fostering an approach to content that appears fresh to the reader. The different formats stop content on your site from appearing ‘samey’. Lists, for example are very popular and almost everyone likes or at least will attempt to read an article titled ‘5 ways to …’ or ‘Ten great ways to…’ Rich media content such as video presentations are a great way to engage your audience and are in many ways more effective than articles for representing data.
Having tutorials that are useful in solving user problems or that teach new skills are good for your site. If a tutorial is helpful or has solved some irksome problem for the reader you’ve probably garnered the requisite good will and interest to ensure a return visit to the site and possibly generate positive word of mouth.
You should always harbour a healthy element of doubt about your content before and after publishing. This doesn’t mean that you should be stressed about it, or lie in bed at night worrying about whether there is anything that could be revised or improved. But it is this healthy degree of doubt in the quality of your content that will foster conscientiousness in you.
You will find you will revise, check and double check it when you have some downtime, rather than hitting publish and just thinking ‘that’s fine’. This repeated checking and mindfulness means that you may spot an unwieldy sentence or typo or add a paragraph that illustrates an extra point that you missed the first time around. This approach will add greatly to the value of your page or post. As trite and as corny as it sounds you should treat the maintenance of your content as you would a garden, gradually weeding out the undesirable elements and nurturing the positive.