Good content is the cornerstone of any effective website design and should be the number one priority for any web based project. Whether you're looking to just refresh your current site content or start completely from scratch, a solid strategy for developing your content will not only see better results for your SEO rankings, but will encourage far stronger relationships between your business and your audience, proving the trustworthiness and credibility your audience is looking for.
A content strategy is a framework for deciding what content is needed for your website and where/how it should appear to most effectively engage your audience. By determining WHAT your audience is looking for, WHY they would visit your website in the first place and HOW you can best anticipate the questions your audience might have about your business, a well-planned content strategy creates a sense of trust and authority around your business. Your content is the driving factor when it comes to the design, organising and structuring your website.
But how do you create content for your website that does all this?
We’ve outlined some easy to follow steps to help you create a solid, client-focused strategy for your website content.
What is a value proposition you say?
A value proposition is a short, simple statement defining the why and how of your business. This should explain what services your business offers and how that provides value to your client or customer. What makes your business unique? Why would someone choose to engage your business over your competitors? Nobody knows your business as well as you, so lean into this and tell everyone why you're the best at what you do. This statement should be front and centre in your mind when creating the rest of the content and should be echoed throughout the website. Ensuring your content is relevant and targeted to the people you're trying to reach is key when it comes to your websites success.
At this point, you might be thinking something along the lines of "stuff this, I'm a plumber not a writer, how am I supposed to come up with pages and pages of content?".
This is when we'd suggest doing a bit of a stocktake of the content you might already have. Do you have an existing website? Is any of this information still relevant? Unless your business is new or has been through a full rebranding, there is a good chance that at least some of this content is still going to be relevant. Go through and audit the content of your existing site, determine what can stay, what has to go and what has to be refreshed or re-written. Filter all of this content through your value proposition too to make sure what's left truely aligns with your business and the needs of your clients or customers. Once this is done you should have a pretty clear picture of any holes in your content, how much new content is needed and where to start filling.
Take a minute to think about who will be visiting your website the most.
A common mistake when it comes to creating website content is that businesses all too often think about what they want to say rather than what their audience wants to read.
It's vital that your content speaks to your audience, answering the questions that are most important to them and providing them with the content that proves your credibility and professionalism in your field. Unfortunately, we're not all mind readers yet, but lucky for us, personas are a great way to help you learn how your audience will engage with your website and ultimately your engage with your business. By uncovering your audience personas, you can create personalised content targeted to their interests, goals and needs. The simplest way to create a persona for your business is by filling in the following sentence:
"As a ______, I want to ______ so that I can ______."
For example, If I was a residential painter, my client might say things like, "as a [new home owner], I want to [see examples of exterior painting] so that I can [hire someone to paint the outside of my new home]', or maybe, "as a [residential landlord], I want to [find someone who can patch up my tenants damaged wall] so that I can [call and book a time]". From these examples we can start to identify common themes amongst our wider audience and discover not only what information needs to be included, but begin giving some hierarchy to the content to make sure the common issues are addressed early on.
What's the primary goal of your website?
You don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to developing your website content.
If you're like 99% of other businesses across Australia, chances are the primary goal of your business (and therefore your website) is to make sales, how ever that may look for your business. While your audience's needs should be your number one priority the needs of your business can't be ignored too. Your website should contain a variety of content addressing where different audiences sit along your sales journey from awareness right through to action. A brief services page is a great place for answering general questions about your business offerings, whereas testimonials or detailed project studies are more suited to those already considering your business for hire.
At this point you have a pretty solid idea of who you are, what your business is all about, who your audience is and what they want to learn about your business. Now it's time to flesh out these points to not only acknowledge these questions exist, but addressing them to a level of detail enough to alleviate any doubt you audience might have about your scope or capabilities as a business.
The two most common points your customers want to know are that 1), you know that you understand what they want, and 2), you know what you're doing.
Help them to develop a sense of trust with your business by letting them in on who you are and how you operate. Consider things like an About the Business section with some information on how well established your business is and how you've successfully grown the business to what it is today, or an Our Process section to let clients in on what happens after you have their money in your pocket, or even what kind of special equipment or materials you use that make your business the only one they want to work with. Make sure you avoid the temptation to just throw everything into an FAQ's section. While there is a time and place for FAQ's, it should never be used to display any sort of vital information as they can quickly get too cluttered and unorganised, creating a confusing experience for your customers.
By providing relevant information you're giving your audience every chance to understand how you work, how you can help them and that their decision will turn out to be the right one.
Through building out your content strategy, each piece of content across your website will have a specific purpose and targeted audience. It's important to consider if the content you're writing is relevant to your audiences needs, as well as the purpose your content is serving for that audience. Once you get into the swing of it, it can be easy to get distracted from your goal or carried away on a tangent that doesn't really answer what your audience is looking for. Make sure as you develop your content that you are still filtering everything through your value proposition you decided on earlier. Just like having not enough content can come across as unprofessional or unqualified, having too much or not breaking your content into smaller, easy to follow chunks can end up burying all of that gold your audience is digging for.
While SEO should never be the main focus of your content creation, a good rule of thumb is 300-500 words per section to ensure your site both ranks well and informs your audience without loosing their interest. Relevant information like quotes or testimonials and detailed product/service descriptions will help your website be found and viewed by the right people.
So now all your content is perfectly tailored to easing your prospective client's and customer's minds, but what about the language you use to say what you know you want to say? It's important to speak the same language as your audience, avoiding using too many technical terms and industry jargon if it's not going to resonate well. Think about the tone of your writing too. Unless your business calls for it, generally a more conversational approach is more effective and engaging than a formal, stale tone.
Consider writing as though you're having a one-on-one conversation with your client or customer.
Make sure you proofread thoroughly too. Nothing can derail your credibility quicker than spelling mistakes and obvious punctuation errors. First impressions are everything so make the content easy to read by breaking it up into small chunks and by using subheadings too.
Just like you wouldn't expect us to know everything about the intricacies of your work, we wouldn't expect you to nail your whole website content strategy on the first try. We're always happy to help guide you through the development of your website content, but like I said at the beginning, nobody knows your business like you do, so the more information you can provide, the easier it is for us to help you and design an effective website that reflects the values and needs of your business.
Having a solid website content strategy in place is critical in not only ranking well and looking professional, but is key to really engaging your audience and turning them into tangible leads. By using a content strategy as the centre-piece for your website's design, your website will be as coherent and informative as it can be, helping your customers find you and find out how you can help them, making your website an invaluable asset to your business.