7 Content Rules
DIY Your Website’s Content
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7 Content Rules
Great Content is Optimized, Need-based, Transformative, Engaging, Narrative and Trustworthy. (I’m actually not big on acronyms, but from time to time it’s a memorable device that helps to hold sporadic details together.)
1. Content rules.
You’re right if you’re thinking that content includes everything on the pages of your website; images, buttons, branding, quotes and articles.
Content is TOP among the tools that help your website get seen.
When marketing-pros talk about what makes a website hum, they’re not just words on a page, they’re talking engaging content. Specifically, long-form content that speaks to your clients’ needs. This article is an example of long-form content.
Content Rules, as in, it dominates. Search engines like content because readers prioritize content.
Search Engines especially favor original content, new content, and content aligned with the goals of your website. As you design, redesign or update your website, do a little research into key words and pertinent topics (we can help with that - but DIY works too).
Great content that aligns with frequently-searched words will help you and your business get found by the web-crawling-bots. While you can use SEO tools to find keywords, a little sleuthing will get you there as well. Just put yourself in the shoes of your potential client, and ask yourself, “What kinds of questions am I typing or speaking into my search-bar; then follow the bunny trails - what kinds of words repeatedly show up when you search for topics like yours? Writing content connected with those words and ideas will help you get found by your potential audience.
But, beyond the back alleys of search-bots, there’s an even more pressing reason to create great content! Content rules the digital sphere because it’s one of the most authentic ways to build relationships with your clients and customers.
As a thought-leader in your arena - someone who knows their stuff, does their homework and shares from both research and experience why what you’re saying is valuable - you are someone who can build relational-trust through great content.
It’s like any relationship. Same rules. Real relationships need to be about more than the surfacey stuff. Beyond tending your upfront manners, being authentic and helpful is the stuff of relationships that lasts.
As you dig down and share ideas that answer your client’s pressing questions or provide genuine solutions to things they struggle with, you (and your site) become a go-to source of information. The article, “The Big Ask,” is an example of real stuff that scores on the authenticity-meter (hint - because it’s true). This article gets props less from being relational and more on the value-added side of the relationship; both are real. Both delve below the surface.
When you share authentic and helpful stuff, you cultivate relationships and inspire clients to engage and re-engage.
Like us, your readers place greater value on content that’s free; because we’ll never get away from the feeling that engaging with paid-advertising can be a little like buying a friend. In any relationship, a free-exchange (my email for yours) is clearly a more trustworthy exchange than a relationship with someone who’s trying to buy our affection. For that reason, more than all other website relationship-builders, content rules.
Bottom line? Great content nurtures real relationship.
Whether you’re designing or upgrading your own website (or you choose to hire me to design your website), give some thought to what kind of content will be most important to your readers. Your investment in great content can foster real relationships.
Invest in relationship.
Great content builds trust
Do a quick site-analysis. How’s your Website’s content?
2. Optimize your website
So you’re ready to add content? Hooray! And, you’ve got some ideas about some of the great content you’d like to see on your website? That’s fabulous.
I’d like to tell you to disregard everything I’m going to say next. Instead, I really want to encourage you not to let it constrain your work. Write about what you know, what you’re passionate about. Throw SEO to the wind and just write.
That said, knowing something about SEO will help as you’re creating your content. It’s a guide - not a dictator. Because, at the end of the day, great content needs to be interesting, genuine, helpful. Go for that.
So here’s what you need to know about content optimization. There are keywords and these keywords should be worked into your content; not in a fakey way, but in ways that are genuinely helpful.
Can you guess which keyword ranks in the CONTENT of this article?
What CONTENT do you suppose that might be? I know, these are trade-secrets and I probably shouldn’t be sharing. But, if you want to crush the competition, then getting your CONTENT right is key.
Learn a bit about the keywords that are resonating with your audience. How can you do that? Ask yourself, what questions will your potential clients or customers type into a search box or speak into their phones?
Experiment by typing in logical searches.
Type keywords and phrases into a search bar to see what the competition is doing. What kinds of words turn up in the headings of your search?
Head that direction; without becoming a copy-cat. Originality is not only scored by those web-searching-bots, but by your readers. Give them something they’re not finding everywhere else.
Those search-bots also like it when your page title, your content, your alt-tags, metadata and URLs all sync-up. An article about CONTENT should talk about CONTENT in the title, the URL and the metadata. Make sense?
Great content will align your website for high SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Ideally, that’s strategically built into your site from the outset, then modified as you continue to learn what works for your audience. At the end of the day, strong SEO is something you can take to the bank with traffic that generates leads, and leads that generate business. Great content is not only real and helpful, but it’s optimized so you, your work, your website, your business - can be found.
One way to evaluate your SEO-ness is to ask yourself, “How friendly is the front door of my website?” When people see it, will they bounce-off or enter my site, my world, my business? Do they find what they want and feel welcome?
Take the Fast 5-Question Eval to rate your website’s welcome factor.
5-Welcome-Factors: Eval Your Website’s Virtual Front Door
3. Need-based & Relevant
There’s a lot of content out there, but as you know. Not all of it is helpful.
Standing out from the crowd is easy with content that actually provides useful information.
Talk with those you serve. Learn about their challenges. Let their voice shape what your website has to say.
The best websites help you accomplish a project or solve a problem.
Think about how you use the internet. You have a question. You want answers. You may make a reservation, an appointment or buy a product. But, before you do any of that, you’re going to look around. You’re going to learn something about your choices.
Be the website that helps people learn.
Be the website that’s top of mind when people are looking for the products, services or solutions you offer.
Dated photos, old stories and past-due stats say, “irrelevant.” Stand out by by keeping what you do current and relevant.
When your website connects with real needs, your site’s reputation and credibility increase exponentially. Consider including stories from actual clients and customers. Need-based and relevant content rules.
Transform an average website into extraordinary with content that makes a difference.
Learn more about your audience’s pain-points. What struggles, questions, fustrations do they have?
What can you contribute to the conversation? Are there real-life struggles that you or a client have faced? How did you or your business help them transform ordinary frustrations into extraordinary solutions?
Sharing stories of transformation encourages others with similar struggles. That’s “value-added” content! In a customer-centric market, being a self-centered business or site will make you irrelevant quickly.
Value-added content helps you be genuinely invested in your customer.
Blog, publish ebooks, include how-to articles. Some of the best websites out there help customers to own their own success. REI includes value-added content in the form of resource-articles on outdoor sports. Disney includes value-added content that helps you plan your travel itinerary. There are beauty sites that let you try on a different haircut, and car-sites that let you compare their cars against competitors.
Consider your audience’s questions - and write an answer. If they’re looking for a product, explain how yours works and include insider-tips.
Your audience likes to learn.
So, show them how to do something. In my home, we’ve learned how to fix dishwashers, inflate large objects, make recipes, put a boat on a trailer and pack a cargo-van - from value-added content on other’s websites. Offer value-added content and build a relationship of trust with your audience. Before people buy from you, they need to trust you.
Value-added content that transforms outcomes is huge.
You’ve Got three seconds to get their attention
Your audience is made up of current and potential customers who will give you about 3-seconds to catch their interest before they “bounce” out and onto other sites that will capture their attention.
Get beyond boring by engaging your reader in one or more of these ways:
blog about their challenges
ask them what they need; research and write about that
share what you’ve learned from others or your own experience
offer a chat option
In digital, content rules (pulls rank) because it gets you seen, heard, and shared. Engaging content is how you mix it up with your current and potential clients.
Hint: contrary to 1960’s marketing shoe focus was on what management wanted others to know about their service or product - in 2020, great content will be entirely about what your audience is thinking, what they want to learn about, what they find helpful. Basically, the goal line has been moved from management-centered to customer-centered; a good shift, don’t you think?
Content that rules the digital space is content that’s in sync with your readers needs and goals.
Recall keywords (Optimize your Search, #2), and how you can engage customers by making sure your website has the right keywords and info (Need Based and Relevant, #3) for your audience? Well, one way to tell if you’re engaging your site’s visitors is to keep your eye on the click-through-rate (CTR). Most platforms (including Squarespace) provide some analytics free of charge.
When readers “click-through” you have a good indicator of engagement. When they give you their email in exchange for something you’re giving them, levels of engagement increase.
Keep an eye on which pages are working for you, and which are not.
Beneath the content, we want to make sure that the User-Experience (UX) isn’t an impediment. Ask yourself, “Are the links working? Do links follow naturally from related content? Do people find the content on the page that they expected to find when they clicked through?” Time-on-page reports will give you a sense of whether they’re finding the content they came for - on your site.
In digital, it’s all about learning what’s working and making adjustments.
Websites are never one-and-done.
Your site will benefit from an ongoing investment in content that is need-based, relevant, transformative and engaging.
As you create engaging content, you might invite your readers to see behind the scenes. Share photos that give an insider view. Tell client stories. Ask great questions. Share ideas they can use.
Engaging content causes readers to think their own thoughts, solve their own problems, and feel grateful to you for helping them get there. Engagement builds trust, and trust is the beginning of any great relationship.
Tell a story. Stories change brain chemistry.
Tell your story about why you do what do. Tell the story of your business, how it got built and why it does what it does. Tell the story of a client or member of the community that you helped.
Why tell a story?
Because, storytelling increases the chances that a user will actually read your content.
You can tell stories with words, graphics, or photos. Storytelling helps your audience to engage their emotion, their memory, and their ability to retell and recall.
Good stories always include an insurmountable problem, how you tried to solve it and failed. And, ultimately what it took to get to breakthrough. Good stories help us to re-imagine how we might have handled the same situation, inspiring us to be the heroes in our own stories.
Useful content is credible content.
Let your passion for serving your clients show through. Be authentic. Represent yourself and your business accurately. Build trust by engaging your clients with your commitment to them and to the industry your serve.
Consider up-ing your trustworthy-IQ by sharing an opinion about a recent news story that's affecting your industry or audience. And, just stating the obvious here, but gripping isn’t nearly as attractive as being part of the solution. By taking the lead you’ll benefit from the extra boost of being one of the first to comment on an industry topic.
When you create bold content that connects with your audience, your voice will resonate in meaningful ways, making your website a go-to resource.
Your best content will be ideas, thoughts, pictures and graphics that are launched from your wheelhouse of expertise.
Write out of what you do and know; your stuff, even if if doesn’t look “slick” is always better than copying what someone else is doing. Your audience likes “real.” Go for authentic by regularly creating content that’s original.
For sure,scour the internet for ideas to get your creative juices flowing. But, at the end of the day - do your own thing. You might consider offering themed content on a specific day of the week: like “Tasty Tuesdays” or “Friday Facts.” And then (obvious alert), stay on-topic; if you’re selling recipes don’t post pictures of cats, if the facts you offer are about lawn-care, don’t offer recipes. Staying on-point will keep your readers connected and a designated content commitment will help you to stay disciplined.
Power-up your content a bit at a time; you don’t have to do it all. As you move forward, remember that tending your content means looking at everything on the pages of your website; images, buttons, branding, quotes and articles - knowing that engaging, long-form content that genuinely adds value - is content that pulls rank.