Web Content Strategy 101
by Joel WalshYour content is what gets you in search engines, speaks to visitors, and ultimately decides the success or failure of your site. Meanwhile, your content has to be updated at least once a month if you want to get return visitors and search engine traffic. You need to have a web content strategy for your site to succeed.
Web Content Strategy Components
There are four basic ways you can get content for your site.
- 1. Free-reprint content that you can publish on your site in exchange for putting a link to the authors' site under the article. The main benefit of this kind of content is that you can build up your site quickly.
- 2. Original content contributed freely by your visitors, such as message boards and guestbook-style comments. The main advantage of this content is that it costs nothing and gives you insight into your visitors. The disadvantages are low quality and the constant vigilance needed to police it for misbehavior.
- 3. Original written content that you allow other sites to republish in exchange for a link to your site. This content is usually informational articles, whitepapers, and sometimes, press releases. Exchanging content is an essential component of getting links to your site.
- 4. Original exclusive content or content written exclusively for your site. You should have some content that you hold back from republication, to avoid giving visitors or search engines the idea all your content can be had somewhere else. This can include FAQs, "about us" pages, case studies, testimonials, and other content that other sites would not want to reprint anyway.
What Kind of Content to Use
So, which of the four kinds of content should you use on your site? Ideally, all four. That way you'll maximize the amount of quality content your site can have.
Just be careful not to rely too heavily on free-reprint content. If most of what's on your site isn't original to you, you'll suffer in credibility, both with your visitors and the search engines.
Here's a good starter content strategy:
- One-quarter free-reprint content.
- One-quarter content contributed by visitors.
- One-quarter originally written content you let other sites reprint in exchange for a link to your site.
- One-quarter originally written content you do not redistribute.
Scheduling Content Updates
Search engines, especially Google, seem to give pride of place to sites that regularly update their content. Regular content updates also give visitors a reason to return.
In short, if you have thirty web pages worth of content this month, it's better to post one page each day rather than put them up all at once. To make sure you do this, schedule an hour each day for updating your site's content.
One way to get regular content updates for your site is to start a blog, a "web log" in which you write your thoughts and post news. The one disadvantage is that many web users are getting tired of blogs, which are often not well written and contain more opinion than information. Search engines, too, seem to be featuring blogs in their results less often.
Identifying a Content Provider
Ever wonder how Bill Gates keeps the MSN and Microsoft sites so content-rich? Doesn't he get RSI from writing a thousand or more pages a day?
You guessed it: Bill Gates does not write the content for any of the Microsoft websites. Nor should you write all your own content. All successful website owners have someone else write a large part of their content. This person or company is called a "web content provider."
Your web content provider has to be a person or company with proven experience writing content for the web, rather than just print content. Ask to see writing samples. You might even ask if you can commission just a single page to start with, for evaluation purposes.
In short, your web content is too important to leave to chance. Make sure you have a strategy for getting the best content. Contact a content provider to develop a web content strategy today.
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