Your Website is not Created in a Vaccuum

This is something I’ve come across a time or two (or three) in my time in this business. And every time I encounter it – it makes me want to scream.

I filed this under SEO because, guess what? You can’t SEO without content – it’s all related…

Before I tell you the topic of this little rant, let’s take a look at what a website does. What is a website’s purpose? What makes up a website?

For most of my clients, their website is an online representation of what they do in their business. It contains information about their services, their products, likely some images, but the most prominent thing you will notice is text. That’s right, words. Words a lot like these. Words? Sure, no problem, we speak them, write them, type them, they’re everywhere.

But this is where it gets interesting. I’ve worked on sites where the design phase is awesome – it goes smoothly. Ideas flow and the client gives input and is involved in the process.  The design is built out and ready to go, but we can’t go live. Why not? Well, where’s the content? Seriously, how can you run a business when you can’t jot down a few words about what you do?

Here are some of the actual responses I’ve heard:

  • Can’t you just make something up?
  • Can’t we use what is on our old site, even thought it’s not really what we do?
  • Let’s use what’s on XYZ’s site – they sort of do what we do.

None of these are viable. Let’s look at why.

Can’t you just make something up?

Sure, we’ll give a laptop to a room full of chimpanzees. They have fingers, so should be able to type. We won’t likely get many words, but it will be content. (pretty ridiculous, huh?)

Can’t we use what is on our old site, even though it ‘s not really what we do?

Well, I suppose we can, if your true services and products are a secret, and you don’t want new business, that might make sense.

Let’s use what’s on XYZ’s site

Sigh. Such a bad idea. Plagiarizing wasn’t cool in school, and it’s not any cooler in business. Sort of is not good enough. Your content may be the only shot you have at a customer, so make sure it’s yours and make sure it’s accurate. After all,who are you promoting, your business or your competitor’s?

What it all boils down to: Content is simply the words used to tell your audience about what you do. Every market has terminology and a vocabulary that describes it’s activities. Use those industry terms along with the words your customer’s would use to describe your product or service.

Sit down and a make a quick list – I won’t even call it an outline (since that might be intimidating). List the core things you do. Then next to each one list the related things that go a little deeper and expand upon that item. Now list why you’re better than your competitor, what do you do that’s different? What benefit does your customer get from choosing you?

If that’s too hard, then put it in terms of your elevator pitch – you know the quick, short description you blurt out when  someone asks you what you do. What would you tell someone you wanted to impress about what you do?

That’s how you begin to create content for your site. The list you created, or your elevator pitch,  aren’t quite content, by themselves – but if you’re not a writer, it will be enough to give a good copywriter a place to start so they can develop your content. (oh, and they’ll need your input, too)

murder dots short: decision
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