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Making web content attractive

As you work on your website, there are some key activities to making the site more attractive (and therefore effective) for both humans and search engines.

Of course the key feature of a successful website is providing useful information – great navigation and design won’t do much if the content is lacking – but the following activities will make the content more accessible.

1. write for websites

Website content is not the same as content you would write in a letter or a printed brochure. Our eyes work slightly differently on a screen compared to a page and people have different expectations so web content needs to be short and start with the most important information.
Website content also has the advantage of hyperlinks so it is easier to refer to other information directly, including defining words and terms away from the main content.

2. utilise keywords and phrases (we’ll cover this further in this series, too)

A keyword or phrase is what people and search engines look for to judge if a web page is relevant; so keywords for this blog post could be web content, content, website, effective and SEO.

In general, the more you use a keyword, the more your page will get noticed in relevant searches so it is important to know your keywords and put them into your content. However, you need to balance adding keywords with readability of the content.

3. tell people about your site (check on Friday for the next post in our series for ideas)

The best website in the world won’t bring in business if no one knows about it so get the message out there! Whether it’s telling your friends or paying for a TV ad, or a multitude of options in between, you need an ongoing process of telling people your website exists.

4. keep the site fresh and current

fresh apples or old

Fresh fruit & content has more appeal

Websites need to be updated and changed – you can’t just make it great and then leave it for years. While some content really doesn’t need regular updates (there’s only so many ways you can write “our phone number is 1234”!), frequently adding new content to your site gives people a reason to come back and makes it more attractive to search engines.

Some ways to keep your site fresh and current are to avoid unnecessary dates, removing old dates (e.g. for events in the past), add a blog or a feed (whether from a RSS feed or social media) and to add new portfolio items and testimonials.

5. link to related information

There are two main reasons to add links throughout your website content. Firstly, it can make things easier for your site visitors as they can find related information very easily. Being easy for your visitors gives them a good feeling about you and also means you can lead them along various steps to your action points.

Separately, search engines use links as part of their formulae in ranking your site against similar ones, so having more links to your web pages can help your search engine results – even links from your own site count.

 

This post is part of Word Constructions’ Setting up a website series
1. having a website helps more than you
2. what’s involved in setting up a website?
3. Learn about web hosting
4. Preparing your initial website content
5. Managing website design 101
6. Choosing a web designer
7. Basic web pages
8. Navigating your site

Searching people are important

For me, once you take out emails and website admin tasks (including writing blog content), then my key activity online would be using a search engine to find something. Apparently I’m not alone – this is the most common activity after emailing.

Which of course means that people searching are an important part of your online presence – if your site doesn’t get in search results and doesn’t help people landing on the site from a search engine then you are risking a potentially large market.

What’s more, if someone is searching the odds are they are willing to buy – I know I wouldn’t bother searching for a local dentist unless I want a new dentist or search for ‘computer mouse retailer’ for fun. So it seems logical to me that someone reaching your site from a relevant search engine search is likely to want your product/service. Especially in comparison to someone who is just curious about their friend’s latest social media like or follow.

Given the potential importance of people visiting your site from a relevant search, why would anyone waste their time getting people to visit from an irrelevant search? For instance, I am happy if you found my site (and blog) through a search for ‘business writer’, ‘blog content’ or ‘writing eBooks’ but see no point enticing you with ‘childcare provider’ or ‘dress maker’. It costs me time and possibly money to get found via a search engine so I don’t want to waste it on people who are not interested in my services – and I don’t want to waste their time and put them off side either.

So how can we help get the right search engine results? Here are my suggestions, and I’d love to hear everyone else’s ideas, too, as I won’t say no to more targetted traffic, either!

  • use appropriate keywords in your writing (ie repeat those words you think people may use to find you)
  • minimise the repetition of words that are not relevant to your message – for example, you may be a  designer writing about your latest website project but avoid writing ‘medical business’ too often as you discuss the work
  • build up some links to your site – quality content is the key here but it does take a bit more than that
  • if looking for backlinks (ie links form other sites to yours), ask them to use appropriate text for the link and aim for related sites. Use the same strategy if someone offers to link to you, or even ask anyone who has added a link without contacting you
  • add page-relevant keywords to your blog tags or page metadata as this helps direct a search engine to the right topics. Note I wrote page-relevant so don’t just use the same words on every page – for example, my tags for this post will be ‘search’, ‘keywords’ and ‘relevant’ which would not work on many of my other pages

Of course, it is crucial to write contact of interest to real people and tweak it for search engines rather thna write for search engines and hope people find the hidden meaning.

How else can you get good search engine traffic to your site/blog?

Influencing search engine results

Having a website is of little business value unless it is getting seen by people, and preferably the type of people will buy your goods or service.

The March survey of small businesses showed that about two-thirds believe search engines is the key means of finding new customers. Now that may be more or less applicable in your industry or in Australia vs the USA (the survey was in the USA only), but search engines do account for a reasonable amount of website traffic.

Which means that making your website as attractive as possible to search engines is important. You can pay SEO (search engine optimisation is the term for making your site perform better in search engine formulae) or marketing companies to improve your site rankings, but there are also things you can do quite simply. In fact, I’d say some of the simple tasks should be done even if you are paying someone else to help you with SEO.

Here is a quick list of the easy SEO tasks you can do to increase your chances of being found in relevant searches:

  • meaning of SEOuse relevant keywords in your web and blog content
  • provide quality and relevant content on your site – a blog is excellent for this
  • aim your web and blog content at humans – search engines are getting more sophisticated at picking out fake pages of keywords
  • make your content web friendly – search engines read headings, too so make use of them
  • add links to relevant information (on your site and elsewhere)
  • encourage links to your site as much as possible without getting into link farms or spam
  • ensure your web pages and blog posts have relevant meta data (background information about the page) – which means it shouldn’t the same for every page
  • update your site and blog as often as you can to keep it fresh and give people a reason to come back for more – fresh content and visitors both help your search engine rankings

Enough naming but not too much

Have you heard about using keywords to help search engines find you online? And considered that your business and/or product name is a critical keyword to get noticed?

I have often read about including keywords and business names in articles, newsletter and blog posts, and sometimes it even tells you how many times to include such words*.

Instead of some ‘magic’ number of times to use a word, I suggest writing it so the article is interesting and worth reading. Overuse of a keyword becomes obvious as a ploy and the writing then looses some of its credibility as a source of information.

In particular, how often can you mention a company name before someone stops reading it? Continue reading

What are people searching for?

Look at your web stats and some of the keyword tools available and find out what terms people are really using to find your website.

Are they the words you expected? More importantly, are they the words you are using in the content of your site?

For example, you have an article on your site about Crimson Rosellas but discover most customers search for information on red parrots (because they don’t know the name of the bird). It isn’t hard to add red and parrots to your list of keywords in the site meta data and adjust the article itself to include ‘red parrots’ at least once. 

Having relevant keywords is good; having relevant keywords that your potential customers actually use is much better.

Have you played with keywords and seen positive results in website traffic? Share your story 🙂

Ranking for childcare?

You have to laugh really – I mean, how can I take people seriously when they send spam that is so off target?

Let me share the laugh with you!

I received an email from someone who tried to be my friend and show how good he is at internet marketing – mind you, he isn’t good enough to find my name on my website and use it in an email! He does point out that he has my contact details, including phone number, from my site though.

This email was about word constructions – a professional writing service in Australia and his email includes the following (in blue – the black text is my response!):

I see that you’re not ranked on the first page of Google for a childcare centre search. And this is a problem for me why? 

I’m not sure if you’re aware of why you’re ranked this low but more importantly how easily correctable this is. I’m guessing it’s because I don’t have a childcare centre or use that keyword? If he found me through that keyword, it says a lot for my childcare articles though!

There’s no reason you can’t have a top three ranking for the keyword childcare centre based on your site structure and content. You have a very nice site. Perhaps the fact I don’t have a childcare centre (or a website about childcare) is a good reason not to rank top three? And if you don’t know that, I have no reason whatsoever to believe you have looked at my site to know it’s good!

I didn’t send this email out to very many people (oh please!) but I am currently reaching out to a list of your ‘keyword competitors’ (If their keyword is ‘childcare centre’, they aren’t my competitors at all) as well. But I do favor your website because I can see your website monetizing the targeted website traffic the keyword childcare centre can deliver. If you truly believe my site is best placed to maximise this keyword, you REALLY have no idea about relevant content and keywords – and I REALLY don’t want to make use of your ‘help’ and ‘skill’.
 
He followed this up with four requests to call me, and one to call him. Sure, Jason, call me so I can tell you how little you really know, at your long distant phone cost!
 
Hopefully that gave you a laugh, too.
 
If you want a serious message from this, here are some real marketing tips:
 
  •  be relevant – don’t contact a business about something they don’t offer
  • be honest – adding blatant lies makes it likely you’ll be caught out and lose whatever credibility you may have had
  • if you claim to have viewed my site, then have the courtesy to find and use my name
  •  don’t overstate your importance – if Jason is so successful and owns the 1,000s of sites he claims, why does he need to spam people around the world to get further business? Again, it just destroys your credibility if your claims and behaviours don’t match

Here’s to lots of laughs and very little spam in our lives!