Why is content so important on a website?
I’ve started dozens of Website Workshops saying it and we’ll say it again – content is king (although admittedly I may copied Bill). Content is everything that exists on your website that audiences (visitors/readers) can engage with.
This includes the more traditional (headings, information pages, blogs and really any written content) and alternative, more glamorous content (such as social media feeds, images or video). The content on your website is what sets it apart from the rest of the pack, but what effect does content really have on your website, and how should it be used?
What kind of content should I use?
If you’re developing a new website, hopefully you’ll already have a business model, target market and carried out some research,p. Market research is essential for building a business that can effectively target the right customers, and the same logic should be applied to your content. Determine your high-value customers and, ideally, define personas of who will be using your website. This should give you a clearer idea to what kind of tone you should be using.
Once you have established the tone of your content, you will need to study your target market to discover how they prefer to absorb content. Clients looking for one-off services or short term deliverables might be looking for easily digestible, snappy content such as infographics or concise blogs. However, if you are establishing a lasting business relationship with long contracts, clients may want more detailed, long-form content such as white papers, journals or technical blogs. It all depends on your prospective client, so be thorough when researching what content will best appeal.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds of content. The 70:20:10 marketing strategy is a useful guide for the kinds of content you should use. It states that 70% of your content should be reliable and proven content – often for businesses, this is blog posts or social media. 20% should be pre-eminent content that you can invest more time and capital into, such as producing videos, while 10% can be more experimental or alternative, where you can let your imagination run wild (within reason).
Always be sure that you’re creating content for your audience, not for yourself. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and can take some getting used to when writing, the important thing is to look at your analytical data and adapt.
What is content for?
So what should the content you develop actually do? Content should never be created just for the sake of being created, but to fulfil an objective. There are many reasons to make content, but the key ones are:
There’s a lot of information in content like blogs and this will be in demand from your customers. An average of 57% of the buying process is done before visitors to your website even talk to you, so having useful, relevant information easily accessible will increase your chances of developing leads. The other side is about informing your customers that you know what you’re doing – that you’re a thought leader. Content is a key part of what will set you apart from competitors.
One of many advantages of content on your website is that it has a significant impact on your standing in Google searches. Known in the industry as SEO (search engine optimisation), the more consistent, relevant content published on your website, the more favourably the search engine algorithms will see you. Being on page one of a Google search is a great result and can have a huge impact attracting new custom. That’s not to mention content going viral, your blog post could be shared among professionals until it’s become a discussion point, with your brand slap bang in the middle of it all.
Finally, content is an opportunity for you to connect with the World. Engagement is when real people respond in a measurable way to your content. It’s arguably one of the most important aspects of content and probably the hardest to achieve effectively. Audiences are generally reluctant to share unless you can produce content that relates to their personal circumstances and makes an intelligent, coherent point. Ideally, engagement will come in the form of customers taking a proactive step in sharing your content through their own medium, such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Why content is so important
In a nutshell, a website is empty without content.
Design, development and content – that’s the essential trinity of creating a website – it can’t exist without all three. Much like design and development, the work isn’t over once it’s published. Content needs to be regularly and continuously updated, pushed, referenced and produced. With a well thought out content strategy, you can develop engagement and increase leads to your business. You can be recognised as a thought leader to increase your status within the industry. You can publish what your business is offering to your existing and prospective customers without the expense of advertising sponsorship.
Your website is essentially your business’s online representative. If you have a person representing your company in any other context, you’d make sure they know your industry inside and out, that they are prepared to answer questions and that they are full of information about your business. Websites have a similar responsibility but to a global audience. Your content represents your voice and how others perceive you.
After all, content is king, and one cannot ignore the king!