Part of the Starting at Square One Series
Content is the most important component of your website. Yes, design and usability are important, but if you don't have the content, no one is going to know what to do with that design and usability. And, content creation is not just important as a way to inform your website visitors of who you are and what you do, but also for website optimization and getting your website found under targeted keyword searches.
It's not just any ordinary content that's important – but quality content. Keep in mind, content includes not just text, but images, videos, infographics, etc. Without a good amount of quality content, a search engine is not going to be able to determine how your website should appear in its search results; under what key words and phrases.
A common sentiment I hear among clients is that they don't know how exactly to go about developing content. This can be for a number of reasons; they don't have enough time, they don't think they are a good writer, they aren't exactly sure what to write, etc. In many cases they're so close to the product or service they're trying to market that they feel like they've written as much as they can. I mean, how much can you write about a widget – a widget is this, it does this, and that's about it.
But there is more that can be written, much more… and, you don't need to be a writer or need a lot of extra time to do it.
Sure, the ideal situation for someone looking to grow their website and business through content creation would be to have an internal marketing team or hire an agency to develop and implement a thought-out content strategy. But, if you just don't have that in the budget yet or want to try it on your own first, here are some steps you can take to begin.
Evaluate the content you have.
Take a good, honest look at the content you currently have on your website. Do you cover the who, what, where, when and whys? Does the product or service you're selling have descriptions that are more than a few words? Try to take a step back and look at your website from the perspective of someone who is visiting for the first time – or ask a friend to do that – and see where information may be lacking.
Provide a basis.
Once you've evaluated your content, fill in any obvious holes. Make sure visitors to your website will know who you are, what you do, where you are, as well as why and how they should contact you (ie, answer the above mentioned who, what, where, when and whys).
Determine what you want to focus on.
Many people are overwhelmed with the amount of content that may need to be developed for their website. Therefore it's important to tackle it in small chunks. The best place to start is determining the area of your site that is most important to your business.
Example: Let's say you sell landscape equipment (can you tell I have springtime and gardening on my mind?) and in doing so, you sell many different types of shovels, but the “Super Shovel” is the most important to your business and does well in the marketplace – is unique, has a good price margin, etc., then focus on creating content around the Super Shovel.
Brainstorm a content idea list.
Brainstorming is a strategy for overcoming writer's block; to get over that feeling of being stuck and not knowing what else to say on a particular topic. Reserve about 15 to 20 minutes for you and preferably a couple of other people to get together a list of possible topics on which to further develop content based on the product or service you chose to focus on. Try to put yourself in the shoes of perspective visitor/customer.
Example: In focusing on the Super Shovel, the following might be some brainstormed topics: how does the Super Shovel work (a video would work well here as well), what other products go well with the Super Shovel, why you need a Super Shovel (this can be divided into specific user types/industries), what is included with the Super Shovel, and the list goes on…
Take one of those topics and get writing.
Now that you've selected a focus and developed a list of topics to support this focus, pick one – yes, just one – of these topics and start writing. Set aside a half hour. For the first 10 minutes develop an outline of what you want to say on the topic. Then from there, spend the next 20 minutes fleshing out some content to support the points in your outline.
Example: If you selected to write about why a novice gardener (like myself) needs a Super Shovel, your outline might include: makes planting annuals easy, saves time in the garden, is easy to use, helps to keep the gardener from getting dirt on their clothes, etc. You would then just write a few sentences on each point of the outline with your audience in mind. Each of these points could also be its own content piece depending on how far you take it. Have you started to plant your annuals this year? If not, annuals make a great addition to your garden adding color and freshness that will last until the fall. The Super Shovel can make planting annuals a much quicker process than an ordinary shovel…
Now you just need to determine the best place to put your newly created content. Should it be a page on its own to support the product/service page? Is it blog post worthy – does it inform and educate?
And that's it – do that once a month and you'll have 12 new pieces of quality content to add to your website. If you don't feel like writing a month or two, do a video, podcast, or infographic, or better yet, do those in support of your writing.
Don't forget to share you content! If you produce a blog post or other informative piece of content for your website, be sure to share it through your social media channels.
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