Let’s start at the beginning when creating written website content
When approaching a new website for your small business it’s possible to overlook the amount of content that’s needed to make it the powerful marketing tool you’d like it to be. On realising this, the workload and starting point can sometimes feel daunting. It’s an easy mistake for some to jump in and start churning out paragraphs about their business without yet being sure of how the website will be shaped. A result of this can be a lot of time and energy spent that could have been saved with a touch more planning and understanding. After speaking to a number of people that have run into this challenge, I thought it the perfect topic to outline a few of my recommended steps to take.
First thing’s first!
Feel like you’re drowning already?
The first thing to consider is whether you have to/ want to do this work yourself. If you’re pumped, brilliant! However, if you’re not gnawing at the bit like many, there are a lot of content writers out there that can help plan and create this essential material with you and your website designer (if you’ve got one). I recommend searching in your local area for a content writer that you can meet up with to discuss what you need. They can then also be in touch with your website designer with the drafted content to make sure that every written piece of your site is clear and intentional. If you can’t find anyone in your area, there are online platforms such as UpWork where you can post a notice and receive job applications for your content work request.
Going it alone? Let’s get started:
1. Your 3 main goals
Will the purpose of your website be to sell your products online, give people your contact information, or will it be to post regular blogs? Maybe it’s all three? Perhaps you can think of ten things that you’d like your website to achieve! I recommend having a brainstorm and writing them all down. From that list, focus your attention on the top 3 things your perfect client will be doing when they visit your site.
For example – You own a fitness studio, so the main reasons for your target demographic to visit your site are to:
- Book a class!
- Find your contact information
- See the class timetable & prices
Focus on that content first and foremost and try not to get distracted by irrelevant material. For instance, if your website’s top purpose is to secure bookings, you should focus on getting incredible class images and descriptions that will appeal to your target demographic plus answer all of the questions that they may be searching for.
This is more important than spending hours on an ‘About Us’ page that they may only glance at or find more important at a later stage. Likewise, if you run a charity, you’re much better off spending most of your time on creating your homepage message with a video, some powerful quotes, the charity’s story and a few interesting statistics. This will build rapport and is significantly more important than a write up on how the charity functions on a daily basis.
2. What is relevant?
I met some business owners in the past that thought it might be a good idea to share their personal travel blog on their website when its purpose was to sell products that had nothing to do with travel. Although it might have felt great to have somewhere to put their blog for friends and family to read, they didn’t think about the impact that this was having on their potential clients’ impression of the business. The blog made the brand’s message confusing and seem unprofessional.
When I asked them about why it was there, they said their site was originally for their blog and it would be such a shame to take all that content away. At the end of the day, remember that your website has a purpose to serve your brand, and so your content MUST be concise and intentional for it to be professional and successful.
Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty! If you have hired a designer to build your website it is very likely that they will create a sitemap in the beginning stages. If you’re creating your website alone, I highly recommend this step! From a sitemap you will start to get a better idea of your required content because this visual reference will highlight where elements will go and what must be compiled. The dominant purpose of this sitemap is taking into account the user experience (UX). That is, you are compiling the information of your business in a way that will be easy to navigate for your users.
By brainstorming a list of each page needed and their required material with your designer (or on your own), you will be miles ahead before your fingers even start typing your content. Here’s a basic example of what your sitemap may look like. If this example below looks extremely confusing; don’t worry! With all of your business requirements and information replaced, things will be much clearer. Otherwise, get in touch with me if you’d like help or more clarity with this stage of the process.
The sitemap below is for a water management company that provides services over 4 Sectors:
As you can see, the ‘Home’ title is at the top, followed by a summary of what will be included on the homepage. Then, there are the menu options in the navigation bar (in this case there are only 3). Then each menu title describes in their box what is included on that page. From the ‘About’ page in this example, you can see users have the option to click through to ‘Individual Staff Bios’ which takes them deeper into the website’s structure. From this map, you can see what content is going to be needed for each page. This is how you gain a clear idea of where you were going to put that promo video you had in mind, for example, or what images you’ll need to source. Consider your sitemap as a work in progress as it’s normal to create several drafts before you get everything right.
4. Consider your ‘Keywords’
If you have never worked with websites then you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about when I say ‘keywords’. This subject has a zillion blog articles that you can do further reading on if you wish. I recommend Jeffrey Kranz’s article as it has a fantastic analogy of what keywords are and how their use has evolved. To simplify, ‘keywords’ are descriptive words of your business so that your perfect client can find you when they use a search engine such as Google. For example – You own a pet grooming shop in Bondi Beach. In your website’s content, however, you only add a map image of your shop’s location. You also neglect to detail the grooming services that you provide. As a result, when a person based in Bondi Beach types into Google Search “Where can I get my dog washed?” they’ll be unlikely to find your business. This is because there aren’t enough keywords for Google to see your website as relevant. The trick is to use as many words throughout your website that explain your service/product so that ANY potential client using Google will be more likely to find YOU.
Keywords are descriptive words of your business so that your perfect client can find you when they use a search engine such as Google.
Important Note! Keep your keywords in context as Google is creepy these days and will be able to tell if you’ve just typed a bunch of your keywords over and over without putting them into sentences or context. Keywords are complex and Google algorithms are always changing, so just remember to stick to relevant, detailed information about your business. If you’re feeling stuck with this step, here’s another article that may help you further: How to use keywords on your website.
5. What is the competition doing?
If you’ve gotten to this point and you’re still being tormented by a blank white page in front of you, I recommend checking out what your competition is doing. They don’t have to be your direct competition but choose businesses that are doing what you do and have bloody fab websites. Consider the keywords they’re using, the variety and style of content and where the content appears.
6. Quality is key
Something every professional website will have is high resolution and well-positioned images. Their videos will be well edited and recorded audio tracks will be clear and of a decent volume. If you would like to include images on your website but don’t have anything of high enough quality, I highly recommend checking out stock websites. Here is a reference that’ll help you get the best images. Even if you LOVE an image that you have, if it is blurry on the screen, it will undermine the quality of your business. The same considerations should go into your written content. Check your work and then check it again and then ask a friend to read it to give you feedback. For many, there is nothing more off-putting than a website that is full of grammar mistakes and confusing long sentences!
Dive on in!
These steps are to help you start creating intentional and relevant website content. Remember QUALITY over quantity. Your ideal clients will always have a purpose when visiting your website so help them achieve it quickly and easily to leave a lasting impression. The key is to know exactly what information you’re going to need and where you’re going to put it on each page before you start creating and compiling. If you have any further questions on this subject, email me at [email protected]