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The Internet is designed to be changing and dynamic. People who visit your website want to see content that is new and filled with ideas and business promotions. If people visit your website and don’t see new content on a frequent basis they’ll think that your site is stagnant and has been abandoned without any customer service there for them to rely on. The home page of your website is one of the most important aspects of your online marketing strategy. It’s the content of your home page that gives your business a brand. The more useful and professional the information on your home page is the more credit you bring to your product or service.
The Internet is one of the best places for consumers to find out about new products and services. This places the net above television, radio, magazines, and newspapers. When you use the Internet to promote your product or service you have the opportunity to reach a multitude of potential customers anywhere at any time. The web is one of the most powerful mediums for reaching and influencing people and the decisions they make about business.
Components of Good Content
One of the key ingredients to success on the Internet is creating website content that Internet users want to read. When you have content that is (1) interesting, (2) factual, and (3) well written, you have some of the main tools that you need to get the desired traffic to your online website.
Writing Decisions: When you first start writing content for your website you’ll find yourself facing many decisions before you even sit down at the keyboard or pick up a pen. As you begin to develop the content on your website pages you’ll find that you’re often changing many of your first instinct decisions. This is all part of the process of writing. But how can you most efficiently sort out all you need to think about so that you develop website content that users want to read?
It’s important that you find out what it is that Internet users are looking for on the Internet so that you can focus your website content on these issues. Take some time to study at the top hits in the search engines for products or services that are similar to what you’re selling. Even though these top ranked websites are most likely using Search Engine Optimization techniques you can still read what it is that they’re using to draw in the crowd. Take some of these concepts and include them in the flow of your web content….but ONLY if these concepts enhance what you’re writing and are entirely relevant to the products or services that you’re selling. Keep in mind that although one website may be at the top of the search engine rankings today, it won’t take them long to fall back into the ranks of “mediocre websites”. Websites that rely on SEO techniques don’t give people the information that they’re looking for to keep them coming back. How many times have you yourself searched a topic in a search engine only to find that the top hit is filled with articles and web content that has nothing to do with what the website is all about?
People who use the Internet are looking for one or more of the following components:
- Community issues
If your website provides at least one of these components you’re on your way to attracting potential customers and repeat customers. Websites that contain valuable content not only bring credit to your business but also position your company as an expert in your business industry. Keeping your website fresh with new content doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. There are cost-efficient and time-saving techniques you can take advantage of to keep your website up to date at all times…without having to hire hundreds of people to help you!
Dynamic Home Page: One way that you can have an ever changing home page is to design five to ten unique pages and then rotate them every month. Take a couple of weeks to design different ideas for your home page. Create random page promotions that include a message that is timeless or that have seasonal images with announcements such as “Holiday Specials”. When you design different features for you home page all at one time you’re forced to look at your marketing strategy for at least one year. This will save you a lot of time since you then won’t have to think about your home page content for about 12 months. A web developer can put your home pages on a rotating script or use an automatic timer. You can then rotate your home pages to highlight a new tip every month or to promote a featured product. The home page of your website is much like the front cover of a magazine. People want to see a home page that has different photos and content at least every month. You won’t want all of the content of your website to be featured on the home page as this will overwhelm your website visitors. Choosing one or two features to highlight each month is much more effective. The rest of your website content should be well organized within the rest of the pages of your site. When you’re ready to update your home page all you have to do is grab content from other web pages. This way you’re not always having to create new content but are reorganizing your current content so that people think it’s new.
Changing your Home Page Too Often: Even though you want your website to be new and dynamic you also don’t want to change it too often. People who surf the Internet take comfort from their favorite websites and want them to be familiar. If you change your home page too often you may confuse people who come to your website on a frequent basis. You also run the risk of compromising your positioning in search engines if you don’t maintain some type of consistency on your home page. When you’re updating the content on your home page you want to make sure that you don’t confuse people. When you make changes to graphics or content it shouldn’t change the way your website looks and feels. Regular visitors to your website should be able to find the same information that they’ve always found on your home page. In short, the headers and navigation tools on your home page shouldn’t ever change. Change content and images with other content and images while maintaining the sites original functionality. Home pages that are consistent lend a feeling of comfort to users. If your customers learn to expect consistency they’ll also learn to rely on your quality customer service. If you’re a small online business, gaining your customer’s trust is synonymous to dependability.
Search Engine Positioning: Search engine positioning can be affected by the changes you make to your home page. There are some search engines that “spider” websites anywhere from three weeks to three months. These search engines take a look at all aspects of your website from the home page content to the tags you have for your graphics. Your website will be ranked higher the longer your keywords remain consistent. You need to find a balance between keeping things on your home page new and exciting while at the same time keeping things familiar and similar. The best way for you to achieve this is to keep most of your home page the way it is and change only a portion of it. This allows visitors to your website to see new content and you won’t have to worry about your website disappearing from search engine rankings.
Benefits of a Flexible Home Page: Once you’ve mastered the technique of updating your home page, while at the same time keeping the core content the same, you’ll be well on your way to recognizing the benefits of a flexible home page. A flexible home page lets you test your offline marketing efforts. Before you spend money on a magazine or newspaper ad you can test it out on your website. You’ll be able to see how people react to the ad. Your home page will let you determine which featured products attract the most interest. You can also determine which graphics generate the most attraction. You’ll need web tracking software to get this type of information. Tracking software lets you obtain marketing data that is detailed and precise. You’ll be able to see which graphics people have clicked on as well as what web page they were on just before they left your website.
Content if You Don’t Write: If you don’t write, or know how to take photographs, there are still some things that you can do to generate content for your website:
- Buy content: You can buy images and photographs that are of high quality without spending a lot of money. Spending a few hundred dollars on some great images will go a long way in giving your website a professional look. There are many websites on the Internet where you can find images and photographs that relate to your business. It’s not recommended that you buy written content for the simple reason that it’s not cost effective. Many of the services on the Internet that supply written content are geared towards large online companies that have a big marketing budget. The goal of content on your website is to make your company and product appear credible. You can accomplish this by having a few well placed articles on your web pages.
- Let customers create content: You can have your customers generate content for your website. One way to do this is by creating a section entitled “Frequently Asked Questions”. Here your customers can ask you questions about your product or service and you can list your answers. You can rotate this type of information and feature a different question every week. Another way to create content is by holding a contest by asking customers to send you stories about how they enjoy your product or how it has helped them in some way. You can offer a special prize such as a coupon for free product. You can take the best written stories and post them on your web pages. Not only is this type of material great content for your website, it also acts as a testimonial.
- Links to other content: Another way that you can get updated content for your website without having to write it yourself is by posting headlines of related news items to your website. Then simply provide a link from the headline to the original article. Content for small businesses on the Internet doesn’t have to be original. It should, however, be useful to the people who are reading your website. The content you choose for your website will show your customers that you care enough about the information that you’re providing them with to post links to original articles. This information can include anything from health issues to new items to information about family. Make sure that you accurately quote your sources and never copy articles without first getting permission.
The Importance of Communication: One thing that you need to remember as you make the decisions about what you want to say on your website is the importance of communication in anything that you write. These days competition for communication on the Internet is difficult. The sheer volume of information being routed on the Internet is a huge communications barrier. Every day people on the web are bombarded with websites and businesses lobbying for their attention.
People are busy and time is short. So it’s all the more important to know how to get your marketing message across. The key aspects of good customer communication inclue:
- the ability to read customers
- the ability to understand which communication style your customers are most likely to pay attention to, and
- the ability to adapt your website content for your customers.
When you communicate with your customers through the Internet you have only one shot at communicating your marketing message. You need to keep in mind that those customers, and potential customers, reading your marketing message don’t have a long time to read what you have to say….so you better say it fast, accurately, and in words that they want to hear. Learn how to keep it simple and direct.
There are some basic ideas that you should keep in mind when you’re writing website content that customers want to read:
- Identify and clarify the marketing message that you want to get across to your customers. When you pinpoint your focus you have the ability to zoom in and give your customers content that they can rely on and trust.
- Gather information. Don’t just write website content for the sake of filling up your web space. Find out what customers want to read and then write for them
- Evaluate the information that you’re writing about. Make sure that the information that you’re basing your website content on is precise and reliable. Does the information represent the points of view about your online business that you want to get across? Is the information fact or opinion? Many times a combination of (1) fact, and (2) customer opinion, go hand in hand for writing web content that people want to read.
- Consider the alternatives and implications of what you write. Make sure that you draw the appropriate conclusions from what you write and that your readers will draw the same conclusions about your web content. What are the costs, benefits, and consequences of the content that you have on your website? Take the time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of moving away from Search Engine Optimization techniques and instead focusing on writing what people want to read.