“Content is king” is an often repeated phrase among people who are involved with the World Wide Web not only as users but also as services providers. So why is content referred to as king? The simple answer is, it is the promise of content that attracts Internet users to various websites and the discovery of relevant/useful content which makes them stay/transact/come back / or recommend others to the website. So content is among the critical elements of a website that determines its eventual success or failure.
Moving beyond visitors, we all know the role played by search engines. They are used by Internet users everywhere to find sites which carry information/services/products they are interested in. Users generally do not know the exact web addresses of the sites they wish to visit, they simply feed relevant keywords into a search engine (Google, Bing and Yahoo being the most popular) and check out the links that are returned in the search results. The average user generally does not have the time or inclination to conduct in-depth research; he/she usually visits some of the websites whose links are displayed in the first page of the search results. This effectively means that websites whose links are available in the subsequent search pages have a very slim chance of coming to the attention of their targeted users and succeeding. Even search engines favor websites that have quality content. Although their algorithms are getting updated frequently and no one has an idea of how exactly Google, Bing or Yahoo rank their results against given keywords, it has been observed that websites that have relevant (with keywords), unique, high quality and regularly updated content usually find favor with various search engines and move up the ranks.
Remember this commonly overlooked fact about the search engines; Google, Bing, and Yahoo are in competition with each other to attract users. So, they are constantly on the hunt for the authority website for all keywords entered. This is why they change the algorithms so frequently, they want only the most active and the best sites coming up. They truly want quality sites to deliver to their clients, and will always make changes to the algorithms to keep sites on their toes. So honestly, the old phrase “Build it and they will come” has absolutely no meaning on the web. You must constantly build and rebuild yourself online to attract both search engines and clients.
So how do you ensure that the content at your website will attract users, as well as search engine crawlers repeatedly? I have created the following tips to assist you –
We live in an age where we demand and also have to provide results in the shortest possible time. There are too many things demanding our attention simultaneously, hence we are witnessing steadily shortening attention spans. In order to succeed in such a world, a website needs to be attractive enough to grab the attention of the visitor from a multitude of other similar websites and should have a great design, graphics, a call to action and feature useful content that would impress the user enough to retain him/her for sufficient time and successfully convert.
In order to achieve the above, website content should be designed after taking into account the requirements and mindsets of targeted clients. The shortening attention spans mean that your targeted users should be able to find the content they are looking for in as little as 20 seconds or statistically speaking they will move on to another site. You have to keep in mind that people look for information on the Internet because of the convenience of finding relevant information in the shortest possible time without leaving the comfort of their home or office.
Take a moment to imagine that you are searching for information about say, “website designing” and you dutifully type the keywords into a search engine and eventually arrive at a page that looked promising. But you find out that the website is filled with sales pitch for the company’s web designing services or maybe they talk little about web designing and more about search engine marketing. What would you do? Most probably you will be disappointed and move on to other websites. Now imagine another scenario, in this you are led to a website development site which offers up-dated information and news about web designing, conversion techniques, rich portfolio, and then add in a free ebook on the subject, which would help you make educated choices about web agencies and the services you should receive, as their valued client. What would you do? One thing’s for sure, you would certainly spend some quality time at the website, since you found the information useful , at the end you may end up buying their services and also recommending them to others you know who might be requiring their services. That’s the power of relevant, informative and updated content.
Having relevant and good quality content is important but how you structure it is very important as well. Keeping in mind the short attention spans of the average Internet user, you need to write in a simple, jargon-free and articulate language through which you can appeal to different levels of readership. Get your content structured in a way that users who want detailed information, as well as those whose just want specific bits of information would find the content useful for their purposes. Keep the articles short and to the point as most users get tired of reading rambling articles and skip reading before even reaching the main points. In fact provide interesting tidbits right at the beginning of every article which would serve for hooking the reader. You can then go about elaborating the same in subsequent paragraphs. Moreover you should break down the article into standalone paragraphs with subheadings and bullet points. This would aid casual reader in skimming through the article and reading only those points which they are specifically interested in.
The correct use of keywords is a much discussed issue in the world of ecommerce. There are content providers who stuff articles with relevant keywords believing that it would help websites achieve high search engine rankings. This is a self-defeating strategy, as mentioned above no one knows how the various search engines rank search results. As a professional we have some guidelines, but sacrificing the users experience to cater to the search engines is a very poor technique, stuffing keywords in an article would likely result in an inferior and awkward to read article. Even if users find such websites in the first page of search engine results and visit them, they would leave as quickly on finding that the website lacks good content, and attractive graphics. So don’t bother too much with keywords, focus on creating well researched and structured content, if you are writing about a particular topic, keywords related to it would automatically be present within the body.
Ensuring quality content on a website means that you will be regularly updating it with fresh content. Over a period of time your website would run into hundreds and maybe even thousands of pages and become unmanageable for both you and your users. So it’s important to have some sort of content management system. More important than buying and installing one of the several content management systems available in the market is the requirement of having trained personnel managing it. They should ensure that content is updated regularly and all the relevant articles are linked to each other. In fact developing a knowledge center in which all the content of a website is indexed is highly recommended. It would greatly help in content management. Linking content together would also help in providing visitors with information about related article/products they might be interested in. For example, if you go to Amazon.com seeking for a certain DVD or book, at the product page and even in the search listing you will find lists under headings like “people who brought this also brought the following” , “recommended products”, “other products in this category” and relevant lists of books/DVDs made by other users. Such recommendations keep many visitors involved in the site and may lead them to discover other products that they would like to buy.
Content is the lifeline of websites and with the increasing use and demand of multimedia experience, content now includes not only textual information but also that which is conveyed through audio, video, animation and graphics. In a world where there might be hundreds and thousands of websites selling similar products, it is the content that can help a website rise and shine in the crowd. But high quality content development and management requires professional writing and technical skills. Even if you have a pretty good idea about your products/industry/market, it does not ensure that you would be able to present it in an interesting and user-friendly manner. Investing in professional content developers and managers would be the advisable thing to do; many times they will see things different and bring into your business a new exciting way to say the same things you have been saying for years. Many times a business owner is so use to saying the same things about their business, services or products; they skip over the basics forgetting that the audience may not understand the basics.
Your website is your 24X7 sales team, and marketing department, let it work for you to attract new clients and the spiders with fresh, rich, relevant content.