Welcome to the third installment of An Insider’s Guide to Building Your Website! So far we’ve shown you how to develop the basic elements of website technology and design for your own DIY website. In this edition, we’re going to discuss the product you’re selling, or—in other words—website content.
Think of your website content as the product you’re selling in your store; you’re essentially trying to convince your audience to buy the messaging you’re selling them. Without quality website content you have very little indeed.
Content: the Good vs. the Bad
Statistically, the average person spends only 15 seconds on a website. Good content is like an eye-catching window display that catches someone’s passing attention and entices him or her to come inside and stay for a while. The rest of your content should keep your visitor engaged and have them coming back again and again. Your audience will notice bad content immediately…and they’ll leave just as quickly, never to return.
The Elements of Good Content
Good content goes beyond well-written, grammatically correct copy (though this is important, too!). Here are some general rules of what good content should look like:
- One page = one topic.
Don’t stuff one page full of multiple ideas. Pick one message and relegate it to one page. This requires planning and getting to the heart of your messaging. It also requires mapping out your site so you can strategically place your content in the most appropriate spots.
- One thought = one paragraph
Using this measurement, you’ll keep your content reigned in and to the point. Plus, it holds your audience’s attention. Nothing will lose your audience quicker than multiple, sprawling paragraphs about the same thought. Keep your reader moving along and they’ll follow.
- 250-400 words per page.
Too little copy and you’ll look naked. Too much and no one will read it. And even if you think people aren’t reading it, Google is. Keeping your copy tight, fresh and to the point (with many a relevant keyword sprinkled throughout) will keep you afloat in your search listings.
- Pictures, pictures, pictures.
There’s a reason why Instagram is a $35 billion industry: visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Simply put, your site must contain relevant, well-composed photos and other visual, interactive content (like video). All words and no visuals will have people fleeing your site faster than you can say “aerial view”.
Overall, your content must remain faithful to your brand. In fact, one could argue that your content is your brand—it’s what your audience experiences when they visit your site. Every page of your website should reflect your voice, your identity and everything in between. Make sure that all relevant info about who you are is mentioned and that the rest of your marketing/branding is consistent. It should all flow from your website.
How to Achieve It
If you’re comfortable creating your site’s content, good on you! No one knows your brand better than you do. Study how both your competitors and brands you admire write their content, and get inspiration for how you should write yours. Have someone proofread and edit it for you. Get feedback before publishing. Develop your writing skills as you go along and be unafraid to learn how to write better.
If you’re less than confident in your writing abilities, however, hiring an experienced content writer might be worth the splurge. If that person has SEO experience, even better.
One of the biggest mistakes we see from DIY websites is overdoing it on content. Craft a clear, consistent message by keeping it simple, succinct, to the point and in terms your audience will be able to understand. With those basic content elements in mind, you can’t go wrong!