There are hundreds of articles on the Internet that relate to the subject of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the many different elements of an online marketing strategy. Almost all of them refer to the absolute importance of ‘content’, using buzzwords such as “relevant”, “quality”, “engaging” and “compelling”, but very few bother to explain, or give examples of, what this means.
Firstly, it helps to know that people read website content differently to the way they would read a newspaper or book, for example. When someone searches the Internet, they are not usually there to entertain themselves by reading specifically. Most searches are intended to answer a question, find information, resolve a problem or locate a person or a particular item. Therefore, searchers ‘scan’ information, rather than read it, until they find what they are looking for.
Assuming a searcher finds their way to your website, whether by keyword search or via a link from another web or social networking site, they are expecting to find specific information on a specific subject. What they see there in the first few seconds or what they read in one paragraph will determine whether they continue to read on or not. That is the moment of truth; where having the optimum website content becomes so important, because if more people are leaving than staying, something is certainly amiss.
Number one on the list for ‘quality’ content has to be correct spelling and grammar. Although it does not bother some people, there are many more that are rabid about it, myself included – two fundamental spelling mistakes and I will move on. Also under the quality heading come factual accuracy and ease of reading – remember the user is scanning:
Keep paragraphs short (2-4 sentences).
Use numbered lists or bullet points whenever possible.
Do not ‘keyword stuff’ text (maximum 3% density).
Do not use unnecessarily long words or jargon.
Most sales or conversions are made when a user returns to the same website a number of times. In order to encourage return visits, the content of your website should be in context with the keywords it is based on. For example: If you are getting traffic for the keywords ‘large brown eggs’, a visitor returning to your website would not expect the latest content to be about ‘red and blue balloons’.
Providing content that invokes a reaction or comment from a user is designed to ‘compel’ them to return and get involved. Provoking a reaction by challenging what is considered an industry standard or by being controversial in some way will draw people to your website to make their own point. If this is a ploy you intend to use, your website will need to have its own blog or some other type of page where visitors can interact.
One way to engage readers is to have a supply of accurately researched and well written articles on tap. An ideal example is “How To ……”. By identifying a problem and offering a step-by-step solution to it, the reader has engaged with you. Not only will he need to read all of the content to complete a task, he is also likely to check back again to see what other solutions are on offer.