Let's explore some ideas for website content
To begin with, you should be thinking in terms of creating website content that your customers want to see. Providing answers to questions would be a great place to start.
I'm not suggesting that we all create searchable FAQ sections for our websites, but you should consider why someone would visit your website in the first place.
They might be looking for someone with specific skills, experience or qualifications. They might want to know what areas you service, how to get to your office or if you work at the weekend.
In some cases they might be looking for advice, and that might be your opportunity to show them that you're an expert in your field, which in turn could gain you credibility and open the doors to more potential customers who want to feel that they're in good hands.
It's all about trust and credibility
At the heart of any business relationship is trust. If you can find ways of getting visitors to your website to trust you through the words you use, the things you show, and the way you present yourself through your website, you stand a far better chance of success.
A salesman free self service environment
Many years ago during my time developing and managing large global e-commerce websites, whenever enhancements were being discussed I kept referring to our websites as self service platforms.
We were creating environments where, without assistance, customers have to make decisions, find what they need, select them, pay for them, and be able to come back to review, change or cancel their purchases.
That's exactly what your website is...
Potential customers are on their own when they come to your website, with no one to hold their hand and guide them through. So unless you make the decision making and buying process as easy as possible, those potential customers will go elsewhere.
Have they already made a decision before coming to your website? Probably not. So how can you help them decide? Usually by answering any questions they have, and answering them there and then.
Give us a call will not suit everyone
You might want to encourage people to call you if they have any questions, but some visitors to your website might not be ready to talk. Or it might be at a time of the day outside your office hours, but they need to have their questions answered there and then.
Whatever you do, you need to avoid cases where you're basically saying to your customers
Please go somewhere else with your questions, and when you have the answers, come back to us and let's do business.
They WILL find the answers somewhere
Let's face it. If you can't provide answers to questions customers have, they WILL find the answers somewhere, and it's more likely that they'll do business with the people who provided the answers.
Should you display prices on your website?
You're going to have to tell them at some point, but when?
Displaying prices is not something that everyone finds easy or even agrees with. Opinions on displaying prices will vary from industry to industry, but ultimately the choice is yours.
- Some service providers simply cannot provide a price without prior inspection or consultation.
- Some can provide guide prices of between £xxx and £yyy, but will still need to inspect or consult before quoting.
- You might feel more comfortable not showing prices at all, and hope that potential customers will contact you to find out.
- You might not want your competition to know what you charge (the reality is that if they want to find out what you charge, they'll find a way!)
- You might not want to appear too expensive to someone who is shopping around for a good deal, and could easily find it cheaper elsewhere.
- If your prices are realistic and reasonable, and you're able to justify higher pricing because of the additional work, features, level of service, quality or guarantee you provide, you might actually be able to show that you're far better value that those who are displaying cheaper prices.
How do you decide what to write?
I get asked this a lot. It depends...
You know your field or profession better than I do, but let me give an example of one of my clients who does car repairs. Like many people he’s very good at what he does, but he doesn’t find it quite so easy to write about.
So I asked him what he did last week, starting with Monday.
Alloy wheel repairs in Sutton Bridge.
And on Tuesday?
Repairing a dented car wing and bumper in Crowland.
So we went through his entire range of skills and services, and the list of areas he covers. He is also mobile (visits clients at their home), is fully insured, and can save his customers money because he is not VAT registered.
That gave us some information to work with, and along with a selection of before and after photos, some information about how long he has been in business, etc., we were able to put some usable content together for his website.
Speak their language
Be aware of who your target audience is. Do you intend to reach a technically aware audience who are likely to already be familiar with industry jargon, or is your target audience typical of the general public who expect to see things explained in everyday language?
As a web designer there is little point in me talking to most customers in terms of HTML, CSS and PHP, but even less technical terms like
marketing mix and
conversion rate can leave many people feeling detached from the conversation.
Put yourself in your customer's shoes
It's also important not to be patronising by dumbing things down so much that your target audience could feel insulted by the over simplification of what you have to say. So try to see things from their perspective. Put yourself in their shoes.
Here’s an example.
If you’re an electrician who provides testing and inspection services, you might refer to these in a number of ways:
- Electrical Condition Inspection Reports
- Periodic Inspection Reports
- Landlord Safety Certificates
- Fixed Wire Testing
Your target audience might not be familiar with these terms, but what they do know is that they need to have the electrics in their home tested. So help them to understand that you’re the electrician they need by speaking their language.
If you still feel
too close to be objective about what you have written and are unable to see it from a layman’s perspective, get someone else to have a casual read through. Maybe a family member, or a friend.
We all know someone who would be willing to spend a few minutes to read our latest prose. Just ask for some honest feedback!
How much content do I need?
This is subjective. If you search for how many words a blog post should contain, most responses advise upwards of 1000 words, but many posts contain between 1500 and 2500 words. Even more in some cases.
The most important thing that you say what you need to say. You might be able to say all you need to say in just a few sentences, but sometimes you might find the need to dive deep into a subject and write a comprehensive post or article.
If your post is around 2000 words it could look pretty daunting to a potential reader at first, so start the page with an introduction which will help someone tell within the first few seconds whether or not they're in the right place, and then you can expand on the subjects once you have their attention.
It might also help if you can make it easy for someone to navigate within the page so that they can jump straight to a specific section if they want to.
An example of a content plan in action
When I was asked to take over the management of an existing website, I did an evaluation on it before speaking with the potential client. He had been with his existing web designer for several years, but he got to hear about me and we began discussing the best way forward for him.
The guy who built his website had advised him that writing regular content is important in order to get his website to rank higher in search engine results. This was good advice, and I also agree with that approach. But within reason, and the content has to be good.
He... the customer... had written a number of quarterly posts over a couple of years. But then he stopped writing, and hadn’t written another post since September 2016.
Why? He didn’t feel it was time well spent.
Writing regular content was good advice
He didn't find coming up with new content very easy, and although the posts were actually very well written, how many people actually read the posts? In reality very few, but that may be been partially due to poor SEO by the web designer he used, as the posts were not very well ranked in search engines.
So was the effort and cost rewarded with extra sales due to those posts?
Directly, perhaps not. But some pages of his website do rank well in search engine results, and therefore visitors to his website may find those posts useful, even if only to show that he, his business and his employees are experts in their field. On that basis those visitors could very well become clients.
Be careful of content with a date stamp
In the absence of any new content since then, having a date stamp of 2016 could make it look to someone visiting his website that his company is no longer in business!
So bearing those points in mind, make sure that you understand why you’re writing new content (or updating existing content), and be careful when creating content with date stamps!
What if I'm not good at writing web content?
I realise how much of a burden coming up with good quality web content can be, so feel free to reach out if you need some help.
- You might be suffering from writer’s block and don’t know where to start.
- You might not feel confident in writing web content which will be published for the world to see.
- You simply might not have the time.
Whatever the reason, feel free to contact me if you feel I can help.
Want to know more?
In part 1 we explored why creating quality content for your website is important.
In separate posts I'll be covering other aspects of web content, the use and preparation of images, linking within your website, external links to and from your website, website structure, etc.
Thoughts, suggestions or comments?
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About Daron Harvey: I began building and managing websites way back in 1996, and I'm now in my 27th year of being professionally involved in website design, UX and eCommerce best practices, including management of large multi-lingual multi $Billion global websites. Following the global pandemic I founded Targa Web Solutions, specialising in website design, Search Engine Optimisation, User Experience (UX/UI), testing and consultancy.