As far as websites go, it is true that content is king. How people first get to a site may vary from using search engines, social media or even an email link. But why they stay in the site – and return, subscribe or buy a product or service – is down to what they find in that site.
Good content is therefore the main plank in turning a website into a successful marketing tool.
But, unfortunately, it is not that straight forward. The internet has over a billion websites and, no matter what industry a business may be in, there are hundreds if not thousands of websites competing for user clicks. Having good content is no guarantee that anyone will even know the website exists.
It also just happens that, because of the sheer size of the internet, people have to find ways to narrow down their browsing to sites that are most likely to have the information they want. That is how Google, Yahoo and Bing got to be gatekeepers to the internet.
That makes search engines another plank in crafting a marketing tool out of a website.
The problem is that search engines are not nearly as clever as they make out to be. True, they can identify technical features of a gazillion sites down to the number of words and characters, and calculate the bytes-size of every image and video on earth. But they have no clue what the words, images or videos mean. All they do is crunch the technical data based on a formula set by software engineers – who, it must be said, have made an outstanding job of figuring out the technical indicators of good content.
The result is that, for a website to effectively serve as a marketing tool, it must not only have good content but must also figure out how to ‘talk’ to search engines.
That is what content optimization is about. It is the combination of techniques that digital marketers use to create good content and persuade search engines, in a language that dumb technology can understand, to rate that content as in fact good.
Creating Good Website Content
People go online to find information, entertainment or a forum to socialize and share information. From a marketing perspective, that means creating content that gives visitors exactly what they are looking for. The key considerations here include:
- Website Content Relevance: Good content has to be relevant to the business of the site and, more importantly, relevant to users’ needs. That means subtly combining information that a visitor to the site is mostly likely to be looking for, with information that will lead the visitor to take the marketing action that the website requires. It comes down to answering two questions: what information is a visitor who chose this page most likely to be looking for? And what action should the visitor take after reading this page?
- Logically Structured Website Content: People expect to find information in a website easily, quickly and in full. If, for example, a web page’s headline says it is about special offer deals for budget tours to Mars, people want to find information of when the trip will happen, how much it will cost, where they will stay in mars, what food they will have, how they can pay, an assurance that you are not out of your mind…everything. And they need all that presented in a logical manner. Good content has to be that way: detailed but still brief, complete and easy to navigate.
- Visual presentation of website content: Human beings are visual animals. They love beauty, elegance and style. But they also have a sense of proportion. For a website, that means presenting content in a pleasant layout, with images and videos if possible – but still in a manner that fits the topic. A bank’s website, for example, is expected to look like a banks website, not like a fashion lingerie website.
Website Content Optimization
This is where you take care of search engines. As a rule, search engines use a set of technical criteria to assess website pages and match them to search queries. Optimizing content is simply ensuring that the content satisfies search engine criteria for good content. The key considerations here include:
- Keywords: Search Engines look for the presence, concentration and placement of keywords in a web page that match search queries. Optimization ensures that keywords that best indicate the information in the page are scattered in the content, including in strategic ‘prime’ locations such as in the headline, first paragraph and sub-headings.
- Links: Search Engines interpret links, particularly links from other sites to your site, as an indicator of the authority of your content. Digital marketers use a variety of techniques, such as guest blogging, to ensure a page has strong links.
- Alt Tags: Search Engines cannot comprehend images or videos, so they instead look for keywords in the alt tags, brief texts describing the image or video placed behind the image by the page optimizer. A video gets a title tag in addition to the alt tag.
- Title Tags: Also called meta description, a title tag is a brief description of a web page – typically no more than 50 characters – that is input by a content optimizer. Search Engines look for keywords in the title tag and display the description on their search result pages to help users choose the right website. Some social media networks also carry the description when content is shared.
There is a caveat to all this: content optimization is no guarantee that visitors to a website will buy something. Optimization merely ensures traffic and builds a following. For visitors to a site to buy or subscribe to something, they have to be converted into customers. That is another job altogether and BizLocal’s content and Search Engine Optimization Experts would be happy to help.