Saturday, February 02, 2008
1. Choose the Right Author
I once worked for a company who let their web programmers write the instructions for their online ordering process. Big mistake. If their audience were programmers as well, this might be okay. But most of their customers had limited technical skills. So when these people encountered online instructions such as "Validate parameters before advancing" ... the customers would often become dead in the water.
This is a prime example of choosing the wrong author for web writing. Sure, the programmers' input is important. After all, they built the thing. But they should not be the voice of customer guidance. A skilled web writer (someone with usability experience) would have "translated" these instructions to say something like "Please fill in all required information before moving to the next screen."
Here's the key to this. The best author for your small business website content is not always the person who knows the most about the product or service from a technical standpoint. Often, it's best to have an in-house writer who plays the go-between role of "consumer advocate," getting the information from one group and translating it for another group.
2. Choose the Right Topic
If your small business only offers one product or service, then that will likely be the topic of your web content. In this case, I would focus on choosing the right angle as well. Don't tell people what you want them to know -- this is an outdated way of thinking about public information, especially when it comes to small business website content. Instead, find out what people want to know about the types of products you offer, and use your web content to address those questions or concerns.
If you are writing web content for a company that has many products or services, you will have to spend more time choosing topics first and choosing your angle second. In this case, it becomes more about topic organization than anything. Large websites with many topics are ideally suited for a category and sub-category system: These are our products, And this is product 'A', And this is a web page that explains product 'A' in detail.
3. Address All Sides of the Topic
When you are close to a certain topic -- as is the case with people who create a product or service -- it's easy to assume everyone else understands it as well as you do. But the opposite is usually true, so you need to explain all sides of a topic when you write content for your small business website.
Want to keep your pages relatively short for easy reading? You can do that while still offering complete information. That's what hyperlinks are for! 4. Link to Related Resources Here's the key to developing great content for your small business website. Try to create authority documents that others in your field would link to and recommend to others. One of the key criteria for a resource document is that it links to plenty of supporting information, both on the same website and elsewhere on the web.
When writing a particular web page, try to think of it as "the ultimate guide to [blank]." This is the first step to creating the kind of authority documents that eventually dominate the search engines and drive endless web traffic for the authors. But it's rarely possible to create an "ultimate guide" to anything in just one page, so be liberal about linking to other sources on your own website and elsewhere (as long as their not direct competitors).
5. Add Supporting Graphics, Pictures, Etc.
First, you can format your content appropriately for web reading (short paragraphs, narrow text columns, lots of bullet points, headers, sub-headers, etc.). Secondly, you can add supporting images and helpful graphics.
Well-placed graphics can improve website content in a number of ways. Images are more enticing than text upon first glance, so they can help attract and retain readers. They also help you clarify your message with visual reinforcement.
Conclusion: I have a motto I use regarding website content. "If it's not worth putting online, don't put it online." This is my reminder to myself that I need to use the techniques outlined above to create superior website content. Because that's the kind of content that leads to online success. Apply these lessons to your small business website and watch your own success increase!
About the Author: Brandon Cornett operates an web marketing firm in Austin, Texas and is a web writer at large for dozens of websites and blogs. Learn more by visiting http://www.austinseoguy.com/.