Casey Markee asked:
If you have spent any time online in the last ten years, I am sure you have heard the phrase “content is king.” I first heard the phrase myself in 1996 during an undergraduate computer class at my beloved alma mater, Cornell College, (GO RAMS!). We were discussing a recent speech given by Microsoft founder Bill Gates titled of all things “content is king.” During the speech Mr. Gates made one, of what would become many, prescient predictions about the Internet, when he stated that “content is where I expect most of the real money on the Internet will be made (Gates).”
As any reliable, competent SEO practitioner will tell you today, the content used to write a site is one of the single greatest factors in obtaining high-quality search rankings across a variety of engines. Sites with detailed product or service information covering their specific niche are more successful online. What do they have in common? All of them realize that content drives the web and thus their site. The most successful sites focus on a multi-pronged “successful content strategy” that makes use of most, if not all, of the following simple content strategies:
1. Write content that is tailored to your audience, not to you.
If you read your site copy and find lots of self-focused verbiage (us, our, we) as opposed to more customer friendly language (you, your), then your content isn’t being written with your audience in mind. This is by far the single most common mistake editors make when writing their site marketing copy. Don’t forget your audience. Site content needs to speak to the site visitor, and you can’t do that in first-person.
2. Focus on building useful research and information content.
A client of mine had a comics-related retail website that contained all of 4 pages. He pretty much threw up a page of items for sale with an “about us” page, and a plea to contact him for more product info, and waited for the orders to come in. Three months and two orders later, he finally realized something was wrong. After scrapping his entire site and having Media Wyse design a new site around detailed product info, and content rich pages covering the current comics-related landscape, the site is well on its way to being profitable. Don’t make his mistakes. Add plenty of product content and on-point research to your site right out of the gate and update it regularly. Your audience will thank you for it.
3. Write your content for the site visitor, not for the search engine.
Obviously the goal for your site and for each of its pages is to rank high in the search engines by optimizing your pages with select keywords whenever possible. However, very seldom will you be successful if you attempt to optimize your site content while writing it for your visitors at the same time. To accomplish both goals, follow this simple tip; search engines index as many as 500 words on each page they spider. Make sure your pages have a minimum of 500 words of content and appeal to your reader. Then go back and “mildly” optimize your pages around 1-2 keyword phrases each.
4. Write your content to elicit an emotional response.
Are you passionate about your web site? Does your site content communicate this to your audience? If not, you’re missing out on a valuable tool to market your product or service. Make sure to write your site content with strong “call-to-actions” whenever possible. “Buy me now;” “contact me for more information;” “ask me a question.” Don’t leave any doubt in your audience what you expect from them. If you don’t tell them what you want them to do on your site, they won’t do it.
5. Vary your content choices to heighten visitor site interaction.
Each page of your site is a unique entry and exit point for visitors to view your content. Thus, each page of your content-rich site should be varied and engaging to the reader. Using different forms of content throughout your site is an extremely effective way to encourage repeat visits and benefit from word-of-month marketing from satisfied users. To accomplish this, design pages containing FAQ’s, step-by-step product tutorials, interactive video content, online tools, and/or site specific content links. Mix these pages up and watch your site referrals skyrocket.
Any and all of these content choices, used with the interests of your audience clearly in mind, will go a long way to ensuring the success of your content strategy and your site in general. In the words of Bill Gates, “those sites that succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products….a marketplace of content (Gates).”
Gates, Bill. “Content is King.” 03 1996. 17 Apr 2006 (http://www.microsoft.com/billgates/columns/1996essay/essay960103.asp).