Did you know that the average online content reader has an attention span of only eight seconds?
Also, did you know that there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day? That equates to 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of data every 24 hours!
With the sheer volume of data that is created every minute, combined with the ever-shortening attention span of website viewers, it is almost impossible to stand out as unique in your website content.
Additionally, a large part of your search engine optimisation ranking depends on your ability to regularly update your website with fresh content. Old or outdated content can detrimentally affect your ability to attract website traffic in the future.
So how do you appeal to your audience in an environment when attention spans are at an all-time low? And how do you squeeze more content out of an already full schedule? In this helpful article, we focus on ways to ensure that your website content is up-to-date, engaging, and relevant.
To get started, let’s take a look at why great content is so important for the success of your website…
There are several factors that underpin every successful website, yet one of these elements is often overlooked. Amid the usual focus on slick design and eye-catching images, written content is sometimes an afterthought. That’s particularly unfortunate since web text should is the central focus of any new site launch or redesign.
Of all the factors that determine a website’s search engine ranking, written content outweighs page loading times and even the web address. Of all those elements that determine whether people will stay on the site (and revisit it in the future), the written content is the primary driver. And of all the influences determining interaction metrics such as conversions or enquiries, written content plays the biggest role in persuading people to become customers.
Effective copywriting is the reason you’re reading the third paragraph of this article. Well-written content persuades people to do something – put elements in order, make an enquiry or form an opinion. The text should be professional and prominent rather than being relegated to sub-pages.
Below, we consider five ways in which poor writing can undermine a website:
In such a congested online marketplace, it’s unforgivable to portray any sense of amateurishness. Spelling and grammatical mistakes can create an impression of sloppiness or indifference, as can rambling or dull content. How many potential customers will entrust an unprofessional-looking organisation with their credit card details, or regard them as experts in their chosen industry?
#2. Lost audiences.
As we said earlier, attention spans are short nowadays, which is why this blog features a numbered list. It’s also why every sentence contains no more than 25 words and a maximum of one comma. If online copy doesn’t grab people’s attention, their minds can wander within seconds. That can lead those hard-won site visitors onto a competitor website or back to their search results. It takes skill to condense key points into a minimal amount of space, but it’s crucial for keeping people engaged and on your website.
#3. Poor SEO results.
As stated above, search engine algorithms are heavily influenced by each website’s style of writing. Individual keywords and popular search terms should be deployed in moderation – overuse is known as ‘keyword stuffing’, and can severely damage ranking results. Make sure every web page acknowledges the website’s primary role, and use analytics software to identify what people looking for your product/service/industry typically search for.
#4. Missed opportunities.
A website is the public face of many modern businesses, acting as a virtual shop window and often the best hope of attracting new business. Every opportunity needs to be taken to maximise audience engagement, from captivating product descriptions to reassuring company/staff profiles. Consider the key things customers need to know and try to pre-emptively answer these queries, persuading them to get in touch or place an order.
Specialists in a particular field or industry often find it difficult to translate their expertise into a language everyone can easily understand. Overly complex content will baffle people and potentially scare them away, especially if it features unexplained abbreviations or industry jargon. Keep technical specifications for product description pages. Ensure other pages can be understood by someone with no prior knowledge of that industry. This can easily be tested by asking friends and relatives to proofread copy before it’s published.
However, writing complex engaging content is easier said than done, which is why our next topic to tackle is how to generate great content ideas. Below we have listed some of our favourite content generation ideas to help you keep your website fresh:
Scan social media for #ideas
The topics that your audience will be interested in will most likely also pop up in your social media feed. Decide which platform acts as a connection to those you are trying to reach, whether it is LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram.
If you haven’t already done so, create a profile and start engaging with those who are interested in the content you are looking to produce. Stay on top of trending hashtags and news to get in on the conversation when you have something important to add.
In each industry there are leaders and there are followers. It can seem like a great idea to start out as a leader from the word go. However, this might not serve you well as you attempt to create easily searchable, engaging content. Instead, follow the influencers in your industry and let their content inspire your own before you attempt to set out as a lone wolf.
Read industry reports
No matter your industry, whether you are an artist creating a portfolio or a financial advisor looking to make great returns, following up with industry developments is the difference between a booming reputation or being seen as yesterday’s news.
Keep up with conferences
Each year, millions of professionals travel around the world to attend conferences and conventions to mingle with others in the business and listen to speaker workshops. While it may be quite expensive to attend each conference in your industry, you can keep tabs on the topics being discussed each year. On many occasions, you can even find YouTube videos of the workshops after the end of the event. By understanding what is being discussed by other professionals, you can contribute through your own carefully constructed website content.
Through these various content generating ideas, you can create a website content strategy and stick to it. If you’re not sure how to create a content strategy, don’t worry! Read on for helpful tips on creating for planning this year’s content…
Launching a website sits at the beginning of a marketing journey, rather than the end. As search engine algorithms evolve and audiences change, the content that populated that shiny new website may become increasingly less relevant – particularly as corporate goals subtly shift.
This is where an effective content management system can be invaluable. Also known as CMS, a content management system allows authorised personnel to modify existing content or add new material at any time. The introduction of original content can dovetail with wider marketing/advertising/PR campaigns, focus on flagship/struggling products and services, and even build upon partnerships with other companies or complimentary services.
However, an integrated CMS is only effective if the content being generated is of sufficiently high quality. Below are five golden rules of content strategy and the maximising of the corporate benefits of a CMS interface:
Make it original
Search engines now penalise plagiarised content and markdown websites that repeat material from one page to the next. By contrast, they will uprate sites that regularly introduce original content. Blogs and news pages are ideal forums, providing they’re written by a senior member of staff or a professional copywriter with good knowledge of the industry/product/service/target audience. Individual articles of circa 500 words will achieve good search results rankings without requiring too much writing (or reading) time.
Make it interesting
Appealing to search engines is only part of the battle, and modern SEO techniques reflect the importance of writing for people rather than algorithms. Audiences regularly return to websites they like, so pique their interest or tell them things they don’t already know. Content should answer a question or make a point, ideally in ways that existing material doesn’t. Interesting updates with compelling headlines will be shared and commented on via social media, expanding the potential target audience.
Make it promotional
For a content management system to succeed, the material being uploaded should promote a company’s key products and services. Clothing retailers can discuss fashion trends and this season’s colours. There should also be a hook that draws readers towards newly uploaded products to encourage them to order a particular outfit. A good SEO content strategy will explain why this particular site is a go-to destination for that product or service.
Make it regular
There are no hard and fast rules on how often to update a CMS. A couple of weekly revisions will keep search engines interested. Try to have one person dedicated to content production, since each writer has a unique tone of voice that creates a unified theme across a website.
Make it keyword relevant
Always write new content with keywords and SEO phrases in mind, rather than retrospectively trying to shoehorn them in. Incorporating keywords into headlines and captions is advantageous, but not essential. Consider the terms readers might search for and use the most relevant ones a few times each per post. Recommended keywords will vary over time, which is why new SEO content needs to reflect changes in the market and newer or more popular search terms.
However, it is important to note that sometimes uploading new content isn’t enough to support your website. Oftentimes, we see websites that are outdated or off course to the point that an entire overhaul is required. See below for the top reasons you might want to consider a website revamp…
The Wayback Machine is a fascinating online resource. This internet archive contains 327 billion saved web pages from sites around the world, dating as far back as the mid-1990s. And while it’s tempting to laugh at early page designs or badly-written attempts at creating SEO websites, it’s important to remember that once upon a time there were no rules or precedents for this fledgling industry. Some trends worked and became established, others didn’t.
SEO faux pas
One reason to view historical web pages with respect is that your current website might itself contain elements that have fallen from favour. Like the elderly couple in a 1960s bungalow, unaware that carpeted bathrooms and burgundy suites have become deeply unfashionable, some companies persevere with landing pages and Flash animations. Did you know that anchor text is now frowned upon by the search engines? For that matter, do you know what anchor text is, or how it was mistreated by disreputable marketing agencies?
Making a great impression
Consumers form opinions on websites almost instantly, and they’re not shy about navigating away if they’re met with outdated or ugly pages. A neglected site with broken hyperlinks hardly suggests a trustworthy business with its finger on the pulse. And if a firm won’t invest in something as critical as its online presence, why would it focus on customer service or next-day delivery? Would you buy from a company whose About Us page runs to a thousand words of imageless prose?
These are some of the tell-tale signs suggesting a website needs a content overhaul:
Visitors have to navigate past a landing page, also known as a splash page.
High Performing SEO websites are led by the content on their homepages, so having a blank page is highly detrimental to future ranking results.
The year listed after the © symbol isn’t 2019.
This might indicate the site has fallen into disuse, which could cause a downgrading in future search results. Other warning signs include outdated cultural references or News pages with no recent entries.
Flash content won’t display on mobile devices, which now handle the majority of internet traffic. As a result, most people won’t see your site properly, or understand it fully. With so many rival sites out there, they’ll quickly depart.
Some fonts won’t display consistently, creating a strange appearance in certain web browsers. Scrolling or flashing text is another design fad best left in the 1990s.
This could include unnecessary plugins, superfluous CSS or even tables. These were popular for putting images and text in specific positions, but they display erratically and load slowly. Page loading times directly affect ranking results.
This is inadvisable for several reasons. Firstly, it’s intrusive. Secondly, it hogs bandwidth and harms page loading times. Finally, unexpected audio outbursts may startle or embarrass people, often causing them to abruptly abandon the page.
Separate mobile sites.
The popularity of platforms like WordPress (which now powers a quarter of the world’s websites) is partly thanks to responsive page designs that automatically resize. There’s no need to have a dedicated mobile site anymore.
Another problem with m. sites are they tend to mirror existing data on desktop platforms. Search engines are attuned to the slightest hint of plagiarism. Any duplicated material on your website could damage its ranking.
Conversely, some firms persist with websites designed solely for desktop audiences. Mobile visitors shouldn’t have to pinch and zoom to read the text or take their chances tapping tiny menu buttons and hoping the right one was selected.
Supreme, sophisticated content
A website’s credibility also relies on written content. Yet even here, trends evolve over time. It used to be that cramming each web page with keywords and long tails was crucial for SEO success. Nowadays, use keywords with care. Because web text was increasingly being written for the benefit of search engines rather than real people, web crawler algorithms were refined to estimate readability. Excessive use of keywords and long tails is called keyword stuffing, and it’s now heavily punished by Google and Bing.
Even so, a modern SEO website has to include keywords and long tails used by the public. Regular uploads of original content represent an ideal way to pepper news or blog pages with SEO terms. Meta descriptions, image tags, and page headers also help. These all provide signals to search engines that a page is relevant to particular search terms, deserving a prominent listing. With an estimated 80% of website visits originating from Google, content is king when it comes to attracting new audiences.