What did we do before the World Wide Web was created? It’s no exaggeration to say that it has truly transformed our lives by helping us communicate, keep informed and conduct commerce like never before. Thanks to parallel advances in mobile technology we can do all this pretty much wherever we are and whenever we want.
Our reliance on the internet has become enshrined in our very existence. Coffee shops are just as likely to be rated on the strength of their Wi-Fi signal as the luxuriousness of their lattes, for example, and turning to our phones whenever we have an unanswered question, now happens by default.
But don’t think it’s all about play – the internet really does mean business. Any company that wants to survive and thrive in these constantly changing and challenging times must have a web presence, and it’s not just about e-commerce. Customers, and don’t forget potential new employees, are increasingly turning to the internet as their first means of research.
So how do you make your website content stand out from the crowd? Here are some top tips:
Start with the five Ws
Who; what; why; where; when – these are the foundations on which you build your site.
Firstly let everyone know who and what you are. This can include background on the company and its history to date, plus a broad view of what you offer in terms of products and services. People like doing business with people, no matter how convenient electronic communication methods are, so ‘meet the team’ features, including photos and information on roles and interests, add the human touch.
‘Why’ is your chance to state your aims and ambitions. By making this clear you will help foster relationships with the people who are surfing your site – you’re more than just another faceless company on the web, there’s a purpose behind what you do.
Where and when are pretty obvious, but it’s surprising how many times this is neglected. Let your customers exactly know where your HQ and/or offices are, how to get there, how to contact you, and your hours of business.
Content is king – but know your audience
The internet makes everything available instantly but it’s worth taking your time to research your target audience before you go live. Who is it that you want to attract? This information is crucial if you want your website to be a success. The content should be pitched at the right level and be friendly in tone with plenty of accompanying imagery and video content to maintain interest. You’ll be ahead of the game if you get this right – industry experts predict that by 2017 video will account for 69% of all internet traffic, so make sure you’re ready for your close-up!
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) still plays a part in guiding people to your website but the days of clogging up copy with repetitive keywords are over. Modern algorithms concentrate more on the quality and authority of content, which is great news for visitors that want an easy-to-read, value-added experience – not to wade through porridge-like prose. SEO is a subject in itself so a future blog on this is a distinct possibility!
Adding value can also mean providing something for people to take away, such as PDF downloads and FAQs, but don’t disclose all the ‘good stuff’ too soon. Make sure you include plenty of ‘calls to action’ – ‘nudges’ for people to contact you directly, either by phone, email or through other online means such as Twitter or Facebook.
Be a keeper – keep it simple, and keep them coming back for more!
The most successful websites have copy that is short, snappy and to the point – but rich in information thanks to embedded links. Surveys over the years have revealed that people spend just seconds deciding whether to stay on a web page, so you need to make yours irresistible at first glance!
Faced with the prospect of getting repetitive strain injury (RSI) through the amount of scrolling needed to reach the end of an article, many people will give up and move on – perhaps to your biggest competitor. All the more reason to find a PR partner that can help sum up the essence of your company in relatively few well-chosen words, but who can also create longer, rich articles which people can access with just one click of a mouse.
Your PR partner can also help to keep your content fresh. There’s nothing worse than visiting a website three months after you’ve first clicked on it, to find the homepage looks exactly the same and there is no new content to enjoy. But don’t worry if you’re struggling for things to say – work with a good PR firm who can sniff out a news story from 100 yards, and tell it in ways that make a real impact on your internet audience.