Whenever I work with clients on revising their web sites, and the conversation goes to the reorganization of their content, I’m struck by the disparity of focus.
A Typical Breakdown
Many clients exclusively focus on reorganizing their sites around internal company divisions. However the company flow chart is structured, that’s pretty much how the web site is organized.
East Coast vs. West Coast – Distributor Flange Assembly division vs. the Backflow Valve Combustion Unit division. While many people treat these divisions as important and real, it takes very little to reveal their quite arbitrary nature (particularly for any company that’s recently gone through a “reorganization”).
Focus Points for Web Content Reorganization and Creation
At these times, it pays to take a step back and refocus on a couple of key factors:
- What kinds of people (“personas”) are most likely to come to my site?
- What terms will they be using to search for your company, your brand, or your products?
- What information will they be looking for once they get here?
- What action(s) do I want them to take once they get here?
Each of these questions is absolutely critical, and deserves clarification.
1. What kinds of people (“personas”) are most likely to come to my site?
Regardless of what you have to offer, there’s someone out there looking for it. There may not be a great number of people, but that’s just fine. You just need to reach your people. In marketing, we used to think of these people as the “target.” Now, I believe the feeling has shifted from military terminology to a more personal focus – rather than “shooting” for a target, the goal is to create a relationship with a person. It is absolutely essential to know these people, to like them, and to want to help them and give them what they’re looking for. It doesn’t matter whether it’s stay at home moms between the ages of 26 to 35, or fast food franchise owners with two or more stores, you have to understand and feel their concerns. What are they coming to your site to find out or to buy?
2. What terms will they be using to search for your company, your brand, or your products?
Now that you’re thinking personas, what kind of words are they using to find you and your site? If you’re running Google Analytics, this is fairly easy to find out. The key is to develop rich, compelling, and interesting enough content for each of the desired search terms that people will gladly share and link to your site. Keep in mind that you’ll need at least a full page of content for each search term that you’d like to come up highly ranked for. Time to start writing!
3. What information will they be looking for once they get here?
If you run an ecommerce site, this is fairly obvious — Products for purchase. You’ll just need to organize the products in a way that makes sense to them.
However, if you’re trying to promote a different service or opportunity, you’ll need to anticipate your target persona’s questions once they arrive at the site, such as:
- How do I find out more information?
- Why should I do this?
- What’s in it for me?
And when composing copy to answer these subconscious questions running through the users mind, always remember the Golden Rule of text-based direct marketing:
Long copy always converts better than short copy, by a 2-1 margin
This not only works on the user level, but longer copy naturally offers more and richer text for search engines to index. Don’t attempt to “stuff” your desired keywords into your copy— the flow will need to be natural and conversational.
4. What action(s) do I want them to take once they get here?
Although listed at number four, this is probably the most important point in guiding site content and organization. Ultimately, the site only exists to achieve something. If the user reads some text, smiles, and then leaves, then nothing has been accomplished. If we go back to our relationship metaphor, then we need to have a touchpoint, a clear action that each user to the site must take, such as:
- Fill out a request for more information
- Download a whitepaper
- Purchase a product
- Request a demo
- Sign up for an email newsletter
Viewed broadly, these are viewed as “conversions.” However, now that we have a clearer picture of whom we’re trying to reach, these can be viewed simply as next steps in the relationship process.
Summing Up the Content Thought Process
Think in terms of building relationships with people and the specific actions you want them to take. Artificial internal divisions fall away, and it suddenly becomes much clearer about what needs to written in order to get your underperforming site to start living up to its potential.