The phrase “content is king” is nearly as old as the Internet itself. Our performance as its loyal subjects, however, has been sorely lacking — until now.
For years, content has slid down the webmaster’s priority list, surpassed by far fancier bells and whistles. As long as the site looked good and performed well, we were happy. As for the content — eh, let’s make a few tweaks to what’s in the brochure and call it done.
That just won’t cut it in 2015. Here’s why.
The Google Factor
In the name of placating the Google Gods and capturing that all-important real estate at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), we’ve tried every trick in the book. We’ve crammed our pages with keywords. We’ve bought links. We’ve done everything short of sacrificing live chickens at midnight under a blood moon. (Though I wouldn’t put that last part past some folks …)
But these days, Google has gotten wise to our ways. The Penguin update pretty much killed the whole link-buying thing, and Panda exiled those keyword-jammed pages to the bottom of the heap. Ask any Googler — or any SEO expert, for that matter — for the secret to better organic search results, and they’ll tell you the same thing: “Publish quality content on a regular basis that provides answers people are searching for.”
The People Factor
Forget calling them “users,” “visitors,” or even worse, “prospects.” Those eyeballs that take in your website content belong to people — and if you don’t give them what they’re looking for, you'll send them straight into the arms of your competitors.
A recent study revealed that 81 percent of consumers conduct research online before making a big purchase. That number jumps to 94 percent for B2B buyers. When those folks come to your site, they don’t want to see an electronic version of your brochure. They want to see answers to the problems they’re facing.
So instead of bombarding them with variations on the “buy my stuff” message, our websites need to offer people an experience that helps them navigate the buying process. We need to get inside those people’s minds, anticipate their needs at each stage of the process, and deliver quality content that truly educates and informs them.
So, Where Do We Start?
Now that we know what both Google and people expect of our websites, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Step 1: Evaluate
To get an idea of what a content evaluation looks like, think of the last time you cleaned out your bedroom closet. First you took everything out of the closet and gave it a good hard look. From there, you made three piles: one pile that could go back in as-is, one pile of items that needed some repair or cleaning, and one pile for Goodwill.
Your website content needs the same process. Make a thorough evaluation each page and ask yourself how well it serves your current and prospective customers — not your marketing program. Some of your content will do the job just fine as it is, some of it may need a bit of editing, and some will need to be tossed out and rebuilt from scratch.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to bring in some trusted customers for their feedback. Ask them to take a look at your site and give you a good, honest account of how well it meets their needs.
Step 2: Revise
Armed with the results of your evaluation, set a plan for editing and rewriting your content.
At this stage, many companies decide to engage the outside services of experienced website copywriters. Why? First, you can be certain that the results align with established best practices for online copywriting and user experience. Second, you can be certain that the project won’t be derailed by the day-to-day demands placed on your internal team.
Step 3: Test and Revise Again
Before you click “Publish” on your shiny new content, it’s a good idea to go back to those trusted customers one more time and ask for their opinion.
Once the final revisions are complete, it’s time to unleash your new content to the world … and start reaping the results.
Years ago, you could get away with a “set it and forget it” approach to your website content — not so in 2015. Review your content on a regular basis and continue to invite feedback from the people in your tribe. Commit to continuously evaluating and improving your content, and it will continue to serve you well.
The world in which marketers must survive — let alone thrive — bears little resemblance to the environment of even a few years ago. Google no longer tolerates underhanded SEO tricks, and people no longer tolerate websites that are merely glorified billboards. We need to make sure our content is up to the task if our sites are to deliver real results.
We've given King Content lip service for long enough. Now it's time to step up and serve him — and start reaping the rewards.
A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of “South Park” by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please). As Founder and CEO of Resonance Content Marketing, Rachel helps businesses connect with their ideal clients by writing and publishing strategically driven content that connects ... and converts.
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