Most clients tell us they dread writing the content for their websites – WHERE DO I START?
As a business owner you can start by getting into your customer’s mindset. Web visitors are not going to search through a site looking for information. You need to show them a clear path to exactly what they want using both logical navigation AND a logical content structure.
Here are a few main points to consider before you begin:
You know your products and services. You know what your customers want. How do you bring those together? MAKE IT SIMPLE.
It all starts with the homepage. Statistics show that visitors will spend 4 seconds on a page before deciding to read further or click away. That’s not much time to grab their attention, so you need to be sure that the first impression has the right message. You need to present your primary message in one, two or three phrases right up front on the homepage. Let your primary message lead them into more detailed content inside your website.
Navigation: How can you simplify the path to your content?
You have limited physical space on your website - especially with more visitors using phone and tablet. You cannot show infinite links in the menu. You must choose the best words to guide your visitors through your website. And…”ta-da”…here is the answer: MAKE AN OUTLINE. You remember Miss Smith’s English class where she taught outlining, right? And you wondered when you’d ever want to use that in “real life”. Well, this is the time.
Choose your primary and secondary pages. Take out that pen and paper and let’s get a content outline set up. Just like for that book report outline, you need to think in chapters – no less than three and no more than 6. Why 6? Because that’s the maximum number of primary links that look good and function well across a website page or down a mobile menu. Even if you have hundreds of “pages” of content, you need to break it down into the most important topics to help your visitors find what they are looking for. Logical content organization beats a search box every time. Here’s where Miss Smith’s English class experience should kick in:
- Introduction: Start with critical content. Include your main message and overall information on what your company does, but focus on what your customers are looking for. Your mission statement probably does NOT belong in your introduction. From your customer’s point of view, your main message is that “most requested” answer: products, services, why you are the right choice and contact information.
- Main Topics: now that the intro is done, let’s start getting to the meat of your content. Your choice of main topics will determine the links across your page: Home, Contact, and then…what you want people to know: products, services, company profile, testimonials, news, new products, frequent questions, service requests, product manuals, why choose us…and the list goes on, so how do we cut it down to 6 links?
- Group related topics. See which of your topics are logically related. Organize your website content into logical categories like a restaurant menu. Menus are usually divided into categories, and subcategories. Appetizers go with appetizers and desserts go with desserts, etc.
- Group several topics under an “umbrella” term that covers everything. Once you have the big topics, you can distribute the remaining information UNDER those terms. Remember that an outline has the most IMPORTANT and most general topics listed first and then under those, the related, more specific terms.
- Target Key Words. Give each page of your website a “key word” focus. Try to think about the best search terms that people will use to find you and include those terms in the page. If you find that you have too many keywords on a page, consider breaking the content into multiple pages to focus on primary subject matter.
- Show relevant content. Address your customer’s concerns and interests. Avoid going into detail that is not relevant to your customer’s purchase. Your website is an “introduction” to your company. Get that sales lead by having them to call you for more detailed information. Link to subpages for reference materials that may be of interest, but keep the text content of your main pages targeted to your products and services.
What information will convince your customers to buy with you?
How is your company unique? What will tell your customer that you are reliable? Do you need a company profile of your experience? Will a listing of staff show that you are qualified to do the job? Do you need testimonials from customers? Do you need to explain how you are different from the competition?
Again, it’s the “customer you want” that determines what you write for your website. Just because you’ve seen it on another website does not mean you should include it on yours. Strive to get the right balance of informational content and company profile. Keep it simple, but professional.
Use a clear “call to action”
Will your customers respond to a phone number, email or contact form? Think like a web visitor. How will you guide your customers to take the next step? What information do they need to engage with your product? Decide where your customer will most likely be ready to buy and make it easy to contact you from that point in your text.
Finally, design the page for easy reading.
Once you have your content “outlined” you can begin to fill in the topics with text. In general, a website page needs 2-3 paragraphs of text to appear “legitimate” to visitors. Keep in mind, however, that web visitors probably will not read paragraph after paragraph of text eagerly. Examine your text and see where you can take out unnecessary information. Make it complete but concise.
Look for places to add “headlines”, pull out quotes or bulleted lists. These will capture your viewer’s attention and they are also ranked more highly by search engines.
Taking the extra time to structure your content will be worth the effort. A well-organized website will attract and keep the customers you want.