As we saw in Web Content Optimization Part 1, Search Engine optimized web content will help the bots to better understand your site. Over time, this is likely to translate into an increase in visitor traffic. But, gaining traffic is not enough. You want your visitors to linger, to return and to buy. It is here where Human optimized web content enters the fray. In Web Content Optimization Part 2, we take a look at how to accomplish that.
Respect thy traffic. This is the one rule that rules them all. Don’t feed your visitors garbage. Don’t offer broken links to them. Don’t insult their senses by using glaring highlighters for emphasis to the beat of a tune they may well not like. Web content optimization for humans is as important as web content optimization for search engines. Without the latter you would be hard pressed to gain the attention of the former. Without the former, you site could reverberate with Grand Canyon-esque echoes of emptiness.
It is tempting to predominantly focus on Search Engine perceptions. I mean, seeing your site’s name up there, basking in the glory of the Number 1 position on Google, could be a rush. And who can blame you? It is a darn hard climb to get out of the many-millions-deep doldrums of internet obscurity and into the light. And we all know that Page 1 places you in the sweetest of sweet spots to sell, sell, sell. This is no urban legend. 75% of all internet users don’t bother scrolling past page 1 of their search results. So, for most of us, Page 1 is the place we need to be.
Having said this, if your web content efforts have been dedicated purely to serve the Great Bot Master, your presence on Page 1 could prove to be ornamental – like one of those bronze statues of prancing horses that grace some of our public parks: Beautiful to look at, but going absolutely nowhere, fast.
Now, the two need not be at odds with one another: Bots and Humans can co-exist quite peacefully on your website. It is purely a matter of balance and of being gracious to both. To give you a for instance: Humans like pictures, bots like text. You can upload a picture for the humans; add alt text to it for the bots…et Voila…both are happy. Get my drift?
Part 2 is all about pleasing the humans and I’ll get to that now. The point that I was trying to make and that you should bear in mind while reading this blog, is that this is not a monogamous relationship. You can make your web content appealing to man and machine alike. No sweat.
Web Content 101
Groundhog Day text simply doesn’t cut it. If your web content looks and feels exactly the same as those of your competitors, rethink it and find a way to differentiate yourself. The real risk is that a visitor clicks on competitor A’s website first, attentively reads all there is to be read, then visits your site, finds your web content to be similar and leaves because they have seen that, read that and simply could not spot the difference.
Quality, Quality, Quality and more Quality
Offering quality information is really not rocket science. You know your audience. You know what they want to know. Give them that. And to satisfy the insatiable appetites of the über-curious, throw in a little more! Use your keywords. Your visitors will be grateful that you did – even if they don’t realize it yet. If websites didn’t use keywords, internet users’ search terms wouldn’t render decent quality search results.
Naturally high quality information could also garner you some quality backlinks. There really is pay-off in a variety of different and delightful ways!
Write well. Use proper grammar and proper spelling. If this simply isn’t your thing, hire somebody whose thing it is. A content writer or copywriter, and a proofreader, could be worth his or her weight in gold. Figuratively speaking that is.
Do you know that even the worst spellers I have come across, have the uncanny ability to spot grammar and spelling mistakes on websites? It may be an anomaly, but it is also a reality. People don’t trust sites that don’t bother tidying up their English act. ‘Nuff said.
Links within your web content act like good tour guides and are equally useful those who visit your web site.
- External Links: You can take them directly to relevant material on an authoritative external website to clarify something or to offer them additional information. Just a word of caution: these external links should open in a new tab. If you allow these to open in the same window, you are sacrificing the bottoms-on-seats you worked so hard to attract in the first place! Don’t!!!
- Internal links: As is the case with external links, internal links in your web content will lead your visitors to specific pages for additional information or, if appropriate, directly to the order page. Cha-ching!
Oh, yes! Before I forget… do (regularly) check that the links in your web content are all in one piece and working perfectly. Users don’t take too well to the broken variety.
This is so easily overlooked as being part and parcel of your web content! In most cases, the bots look for a snippet on the page before making a decision to harvest some of your web content for snippet purposes. As I said in Part 1, I am not too excited at the prospect of Google or whoever making that decision on my behalf. So, like a well-behaved content writer / copywriter, I diligently write a unique snippet for each and every one of my pages. And guess what? Google uses most of them. How they decide whether to use a snippet as opposed to a piece of web content, I cannot say for sure. What I do know is that it is well worth the effort.
Now this is important: Your snippet must be a super-short, very good reflection of what appears on the page. Internet users get rather irate if they click on a link because the snippet says Boo and when they arrive on the page it is all about Zoo. There are some unethical people who do this on purpose. These charlatans will see Nike Basketball shoes trending and fill their snippets with all the possible variants of the word Nike Basketball shoe. In the meantime, what they really are selling is blogging software. Not nice, eh? Well, they sure will get some traffic, but they sure won’t get the sales.
Anorexic web sites are as out as anorexic models. Those nasty 1-pagers that offer nothing other than preying on our inherent Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt weaknesses or making Vague Promises of Wealth Beyond our Wildest Dreams or Secret Instant Fixes for problems that even the best doctors or engineers cannot begin to effectively solve, are not cool. Not cool at all!
Visitors want more from your web content. They want you to give them great information about your product, they want you to give them information related indirectly to your product and they want you to give them information about the macro-cosmos of your product. So, if your product is an eco-friendly garden lamp, they would want to know about your garden lamp, about garden lamps in general, about the technological developments in the eco-lighting industry, about garden designs incorporating eco-friendly garden lamps and about the welfare of the planet. Yes, indeed. They want to know a whole lot. That is how you gain web-cred.
Even if your visitors love your web content, they won’t feel the need to return to your site if you don’t keep updating it. I mean, if it’s read, it’s read. So, you are going to have to keep your pencils sharp and your creative juices flowing.
Sure! Update your web content every 12 months or so and, by all means, add a FAQ section and a knowledge base. It is great for those visitors who only communicate if all else fail. But, if you really, really want to keep bringing them back week after week, add a regularly updated blog and allow them to comment! Plan your blog content in advance, just like they do at the glossy magazines, and release it on a very specific day or specific days of the week. Predictability is vital.
Naturally, your blog needs to be fab, interesting and groovy. It should give something worthwhile to your readers in exchange for their time. If you can’t blog well, hire a content writer. If the content writer knows his or her business, he / she will guide you in terms of your content.
Finally…just a few words on the ‘things’ that surround the web content on your page:
Make your site visually pleasing, but don’t let the design crowd your web content out. Also check your page load speed. Visitors could get impatient waiting for the page to load and bounce away.
Do use pictures, but do add text. Refer to Part 1 for instructions. It really isn’t only about the bots; it is also about low-sight, no-sight individuals who visit your site. Speech programs can’t read pictures unless these have words embedded in them.
Stick to good ‘ol normal fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Tahoma etc. They are easier to read than elaborate artsy letters!
Colors are great and should emphasize your content, not distract from it. Also, as I mentioned earlier, steer clear of those glaring neon highlighters so often used by some of the thinner sites. Consider using bold or italic text instead.
Most people love music, but only very few will like browsing your site to music not-of-their-choice. If you absolutely have to have sound, allow them to choose their own track.
Your site may be familiar to you, but to new visitors it is foreign territory. Offer them a menu for navigation. If your site is vast, you would do well to offer them a sitemap too.
This is an epic post. Probably the longest single blog I have ever written. Hopefully these web content pointers will be of some use to you and your business. If you have questions, feel free to contact us. You are also welcome to ask your question right here in the comments section.
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