Developing Website Content for Computers and Humans

Developing Website Content for Computers and Humans

Content is the Key to a Successful Website Website content is all the written, visual and audio information that tells your story. It drives traffic to your site and encourages visitors to act when they’re there. The easier they can find and navigate your site, the more likely they are to buy, donate, subscribe, follow or share with friends. How well you present and organize this information will determine how well your site performs. Writing Website Content for SEO and Humans When you produce content, you are producing it for two audiences: Internet search engines and human beings.   Search engine friendly content helps boost your ranking in search queries. Useful, well-written content pleases humans and prompts them to act. Fortunately, search engines and humans react positively to many of the same things. They both like it when you: Use keywords and keyword phrases that summarize in a few words your page content. Update your site with original blog posts and user comments. Link to other sites that contain relevant information. Fresh Content Drives Traffic You can think of your website as a retail store. The first day you pass the store, you may notice the window display, particularly if it’s showing something new.  The next day you’ll notice less. After a few days you’ll hardly notice at all until the window changes. Likewise, a static site – even a well-designed one — draws little attention from the search engine bots, which crawl the internet and index websites. But when you post new content, they take a fresh look and may even improve your site’s search ranking. Traffic Drives Traffic Crowds also attract...
Producing Website Content for Humans

Producing Website Content for Humans

Taking a Content First Approach My mother always said, “think before you speak” to stop me from talking so much.  Though, I never stoped talking, the lesson stuck. Before you design or write content for your website, organize your thinking, understand your purpose (or mission) and define your message. When you start your website with a clear understanding of your audience, offer and message, you’ll avoid late-in-the-day guesswork that can lead to costly revisions. Start Planning Your Website by Asking the Right Questions Whether writing for yourself or a client, put on your journalist’s hat. Ask who, what, where, why and how: Who is my audience? Where are they located? How can I best reach them? What do I want them to do? And why?  Next think like a marketer: What am I offering of value? What is my message, offer or promise to my audience? How is it different or better from the competition? Finally, put yourself in your users’ shoes. Thinking like a customer, ask yourself: What turns me on about this offer? What turns me off? What information do I need before acting on this offer? What information gets in my way of acting on this offer? Write for Your Audience, Not Yourself “What gets in the way?” is a crucial question. You need to distinguish between what you want to say and what your audience wants or needs to hear. They are rarely the same. Always write for your audience first. Resist the temptation to show off your knowledge by sharing too much unnecessary information. Educate and Entertain In addition to information, most audiences are seeking an enjoyable user...
Reflections of a Would-Be eCommerce Entrepreneur

Reflections of a Would-Be eCommerce Entrepreneur

eCommerce Dreaming A couple years ago I started a business with a couple partners to sell adult incontinence products online. Though we had no eCommerce experience, I loved the idea of an electronic storefront. Once the store is set up, I reasoned, I could work anywhere in the world from the beachfront to the mountaintop. Unfortunately, I never achieved the lifestyle of my dreams, because I pulled out of the venture – due to a difference of opinion – before hitting the big time. But I learned a lot along the way. eCommerce is a Lot of Work It may seem obvious, but the biggest lesson is that building and running an online store is a lot of work. We did not have a physical location, but we still needed to establish manufacturer relations, select inventory, negotiate pricing and build our store. Building the store proved a much greater challenge than expected. In spite of the online availability of “simple” DIY eCommerce platforms, the software is only intuitive for those with previous web building experience. Adding to the confusion, we had a large inventory of variable products, which required a rather sophisticated understanding of database architecture. (A variable product is one that comes in different sizes and colors. Let’s say you carry a t-shirt that comes in 4 sizes and 3 colors. As each size comes in 3 colors, there are 12 possible variations for this one product.) eCommerce is More than a Website.  It’s Attracting Customers. It’s tempting to think the hard part is over when the website is launched, but building the store is just the start. It’s like...
Your Business Plan is Your Roadmap to Success

Your Business Plan is Your Roadmap to Success

Your business plan is your roadmap to future success. It often starts with an idea on the back of a napkin that grows to include detailed information about your industry, management team and financial plan. Good Ideas are a Dime a Dozen We all have good ideas, but how many of us translate our ideas into reality? Those who do generally create a plan to put their ideas into action. While only a small subset of businesses needs a formal plan to secure a bank loan or investor financing, every business can benefit from the planning process. The true value of a creating a plan is not the final document, but the process of researching your industry, looking at your ideas critically and thinking through your business in a systematic way. Who Needs A Business Plan? The short answer is almost everyone in business. If you’re freelancing to supplement your income, you don’t need a plan. If you’re embarking a new endeavor that’s likely to consume a significant amount of time and resources, you need a plan. If you’re already in business and facing new market conditions and opportunities, you need a plan. For an existing business, a robust planning process can be a competitive advantage that drives greater innovation and growth. Businesses with plans grow 30% faster than those that take a “seat of the pants” approach. What Kind of Business Plan is Right for My Business? The answer depends on your audience and goals. Plans can differ greatly in length, detail and presentation. ♦ One-Page Plan You may start with a one-page business plan, which is exactly what...
Your Website is Like Your Home

Your Website is Like Your Home

Your website is like your home.  When you enter a house for first time, you usually have an immediate feel for the place, even before you look around.  The house may feel small and cramped or warm and cozy;  cool and impersonal or open and airy.  It all depends on dozens of details, which add up to create an overall impression.  While you may not notice individual details — such as door hardware and window moldings — change one or two, and you’ll have a entirely different impression (without even knowing why.)                 The same is true of your website.   What impressions do users have  the first time they visit your homepage and navigate your site?  How do the details of content, organization and appearance add up to create the overall user experience? Is your page design visually appealing? Are the images clear and informative? Is the text easy to read? Do users know what you’re offering? Do they understand your value proposition? Can they easily register and/or login? Can they easily navigate the site to find what they’re looking for? Can they easily make a purchase?  Or otherwise transact business? Do they feel safe and secure? If one detail is off, users will sense a problem.  When too many are off, they will leave your site for the competition in search of a better user experience. Stop losing customers to the competition.  Contact Content First to keep  your customers where they belong.  ...