Sadly, there’s more than one kind of crappy content. For some reason, despite spelling checkers, bad spelling runs rampant on the Internet. Bad grammar also shows up far too often. But there is one kind of crappy content that’s even worse than bad spelling and bad grammar, and that’s pointless content.
Pointless content, by definition, should not exist. It’s the kind of content that does nothing. It doesn’t inform or entertain your visitors; it reveals nothing about your products or services; it just sits there, taking up space. It may be boring or hard to read, and it certainly does not help your visitor to make a choice or convert. Pointless content is content that wasn’t written with your visitors first and foremost in mind.
So how can you keep pointless content from appearing on your website? And if some of your pages do contain such content, how can you improve them? Melissa Fach writing for Search Engine Journal offers some tips to keep in mind. Please note that these are the absolute basics, to be used with your main product and/or service pages.
First, let’s consider your headlines. They should be constructed in such a way that a quick scan reveals or summarizes what the reader will find in that section. Say you offer a variety of accounting services. Your website might include a page that lists all of them, grouped under appropriate headlines: “Accounting Services for Individuals,” “Accounting Services for Small Businesses,” etc. Arranged in this way, your visitors can take in your offerings at a quick glance and know exactly what they’re looking at.
Let’s focus in on one of those headlines – “Accounting Services for Small Businesses,” perhaps. Why does a small business need an accounting service? How will your accounting service help? Answer those questions right away – immediately after the headline. It’s what your visitors really need to know if they’re going to buy your service. If they’re visiting your website, they may already know why they need this service, but hearing it from you will reassure them that you’re on the same page – and hearing why they should buy it from you rather than someone else will help bring about a conversion.
This brings me to my next point about your content: it needs to create trust and persuade. You won’t be able to do the latter without doing the former. For a company that offers accounting services to small businesses, you will probably need to create a high degree of trust, since you’re asking clients to share very sensitive information about their livelihoods – to say nothing of the potential consequences from the IRS if you mess up! So give your visitors the information they need to trust you – include testimonials, years of experience, other background details, etc.
As you write your content, keep your readers in mind. Make sure you tell them why they need the service, how it will benefit them, and why they should choose your company to do the job. Hint: don’t say “Choose us because we need the money.” Everything you write should tell the story from your reader’s perspective. You can and should sell your services, but you may want to do it subtly; let your reader reach the final conclusion.
And now I’m going to contradict that last sentence by reminding you to include a call to action. It doesn’t have to twist a visitor’s arm off, but it needs to tell them what to do next – to avoid confusion, if nothing else. “Send an e-mail to example@CPAservices.com today to set up a free consultation, before the tax season rush” could work for our example accounting firm.
Pulling my marketing hat on even tighter, I’m also going to remind you to upsell, but only for services that might interest your visitor. For example, our accounting firm might offer an add-on session that educates your client on reasonable practices to help organize their financial records for next year. For a small business, it might offer a full-fledged bookkeeping service. Make sure you integrate these services smoothly with the rest of your content, and that they’re appropriate for the type of visitor that’s going to view that content.
Up to this point I haven’t talked much about SEO, since I’ve been focusing mainly on content guidelines. But if you’re working with an SEO company – or even if you aren’t – I’d like to emphasize one of Fach’s points: “There needs to be an SEO strategy for each page that supports the overall SEO strategy for the entire website!” This is critical. While making sure that all of your content actually works for your visitors is a good first step, you will need an overarching strategy to make everything pay off. That means focusing on keyword research, the structure of your website, promoting your content, adding new content regularly – the whole nine yards. This isn’t easy, but replacing the crappy, pointless content on your website with the kind of information that really serves your visitors is a good start. Good luck!