I always start off discussions with clients about website content with this. "It will probably take more time than you think, but it will be a great process for you to help define your business." Quality website content is not easy to write because not all of us are writers, but more importantly it can be a challenge to define your business, be engaging and differentiate yourself from your competition. Really, quality content isn't something Google defines for great rankings. It is really the reverse. Great content can drive great website rankings.
Write For Users First, Google Second
The next piece of the conversation I have with clients about writing content for their website is that they should write content for users first and then Google second. From the research we have done, I believe Google does have things that looks at the actual text of the page and analyses it. Google says they specifically look at the following items:
- Use a friendly, conversational tone with a clear purpose — somewhere between the voice you use when talking to your buds and that you'd use if you were a robot.
- Try to sound like a knowledgeable friend who understands what users want to do. Use standard American spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization.
- Craft clear, concise, short sentences with simple words that users will understand.
- Implement effective and descriptive link text.
- Use accessible words and short sentences that will translate well to other languages.
- Consider numbered lists for sequences of events.
But, I think the main thing that Google does when it evaluates the "quality" of the content is it watches users on a page. How long a user stays on the page and if they leave the site (bounce) or if they take an action that "terminates the search" I think are equally or more important. To say that something is "quality" is pretty subjective. I think Google struggled with that for years, until they had a way to track users to see how they are using sites. Because they are letting the users now say what is quality by how they use a page, Google is making good marketing the emphasis, which is where it should have been all along.
Make it Easy & To the Point
The next thing I talk to clients about is making the content, short concise and easy to read. Page titles should describe the page and should have keywords in them most of the time. A keyword is simply a word that someone might type into Google when looking for the products, services or information you have to offer. The title of the page should really define the page. The content should support what the title is about and quickly describe, products, services or other related elements. Avoid fluff. Bulleted lists are great, because they give quick answers to common questions and they are visually inviting to users. Say what you need to say and say it in an engaging way. You don't have to yell, but make the content interesting and very informative. Keywords should also be in the content of the page. But don't over do it. Try to write about things you are an authority on and mention things that most people wouldn't know so your content is unique.
Put Yourself in Readers Shoes & Answer their Question
I think I write my best content when I put myself in the position of the site visitor. Visitor X has a problem or needs information. They go to Google and do a search and see a bunch of website pages listed. At this point I ask myself if I had the problem or need information about something, what would engage me to click on the link for my website's page? That should be the title of my page. I then picture that user coming to the website. What question needs to get answered to get this visitor's questions/needs taken care of. That is what my content is about. Don't just way "we are great!" Tell them why.
Stand Out in the Crowd
In that content I sometimes need to differentiate myself from my competition, so not only do I need to answer the visitors question, but I also need to give them my unique selling position. Why should they do business with me and not someone else? After that I need to have my call to action. The call to action may be an ecommerce button, phone number, contact form or something similar. But in order to get the business, you need to give that user something to do so you have the opportunity to close the business. Don't be afraid to ask. If your content on the page is good, they want you to ask. But sometimes a user needs a little nudge.
Avoid these Content Mistakes
Here are some things Google says to avoid in your content:
- technical jargon
- exclamation points
- using the word "please" in instructions
- placeholder phrases like "please note" or "at this time"
- starting sentences the same way
- taking metaphors too far
Make the Content Visually Appealing
Once you have great text, sometimes you aren't done. Good photos or imagery can help liven up a page and make it more inviting. Particularly if the photos visually describe the content or if their are diagrams and other illustrations that give additional information. Long pages of just text can feel overwhelming to users. Always assume that most users don't want to read, because the fact is that most won't read everything on the page, unless it is engaging. Stylizing text with bolded sub-headers that let users easily find what they are looking for is a great way to keep users reading and/or find what they want.
How Can We Help You?
What is quality content? Basically it is the content that drives the most business, helps answer users questions and convinces the user to engage with you is the best content. Do you need help with your website's content or need a audit on your site? We can help you with that. Contact us at 720-334-7496 or 435-767-7496 for a free consultation.