Planning is key to avoiding website content mistakes.
The biggest website content mistake small business owners make is they don’t think about content.
Small business owners often think about website content AFTER they invest time and money into piecemeal efforts that don’t grow their businesses.
First, they hire a web designer. Then maybe they hire an SEO expert and, possibly, a social media expert. But, they have little or no content for their experts to work with. Or, the content they have may be inconsistent or, worse, taken from another website.
Then they wonder why their online presence isn’t working.
Your online presence works when your website content works. Your small business website content is the fuel for all your SEO and social media efforts.
Therefore, don’t hire anyone without considering the big picture: how will your website content, design, and SEO work together so you can achieve your organizational goals?
How to plan your website content
Start with your business goals
To build a website, you have to know how your website content will fit in with your organizational goals.
For example, do you want your website to generate leads, retain customers, or both? Do you want to capture emails, sell products and services, or book appointments?
Knowing your website’s purpose will help you craft measurable content strategy goals that align with your business goals.
Understand your targeted audience
Take some time to ask some questions about the people you serve.
Who are your customers? Where do they live, what do they do, how did they find you, why did they look for you in the first place, why do they keep coming back?
Find out as much as you can about them, including their likes and dislikes. The data you collect will help you structure your website and content in a way that engages visitors so they become customers for life.
Visualize your website’s structure
Your website has a hierarchical structure: pages and posts grouped by categories and usually accessed by a menu-driven navigation system. You can visualize this hierarchy with a drawing or notes on a board.
Things to consider while you plan your website’s structure:
Ease of finding information
Finding information is first about navigation. How easy is it to find the information people want using menus, sitemap, and other links? Consider word choice when you set up navigation and where navigation will appear in the layout (headers, footers, sidebars, and so on).
Second, you can improve your website search-ability once people land on your site by adding a search plugin.
Third, on-site SEO helps users find content. So, think about the titles, headings, images, internal linking, keyword phrases, and meta you will use to help people find what they want.
Calls to action
You may have one or more calls to action (CTAs). Again, consider word choice when you ask someone to click on a link.
Throughout the planning process, consider how you will build credibility and trust with every page, graphic element, and website content.
Visualize your website content
Outlines and mind maps will help you visualize content that appears on each page.
Things to consider while you visualize your website content:
Tone means whether you want to use a formal or conversational tone, or something in between.
Here you have to consider your audience. What kind of tone resonates with them? An older audience may want a more respectful, formal tone, while a younger audience may want something hip and conversational.
Voice refers to whether you use a passive or active verb construction. For example,
- Passive: Each junior high school student is paired with a high school mentor.
- Active: A school counselor pairs each junior high school student with a high school mentor.
Sometimes you may need a passive construction. Most writers, however, suggest you avoid the passive voice when possible.
Clarity means people “get you” instantly. They know who you are and what you’re trying to say with all your messaging, including images, menus, buttons, calls to action, and both short and long content
Conciseness is about saying what you want with as few words as possible.
- A high school student mentors a junior high student.
Consistency means you treat grammar, punctuation, spelling, images, website elements, and messaging the same.
For example, if you decide to spell consistency with a capital “c” on one page, you would then spell it the same way on all other pages.
Why is consistency important? You want website visitors to like and trust you. They won’t if your messaging is inconsistent.
Get help when planning website content
You can save yourself a lot of time and money if you plan your website content before you build or even while you build your website.
If you already have website content, a website content editor can review it to improve readability and user experience.
The key here is to avoid the biggest website content mistake small business owners make. Make your online presence work for you by thinking about your website content now.
Image courtesy Shutterstock