When it comes to writing for the web, I believe that 90% of all copy fits into two buckets: copy that informs and copy that sells.
This is one of the fall-outs from when Google’s algorithm rewarded companies for writing a lot of copy for search engines rather than people. The writing didn’t have to be great, just functional - and stuffed with keywords.
The outcome was generic, boring content that people have, quite effectively, learned how to tune out.
Even today, after Google’s shift to focus on people, many companies write content that has very little function or value on their websites. And it’s promptly ignored by people who are too distracted to entertain content that takes to long to clear its throat and tell them what they want to know.
Your site has a short amount of time to convince a person to stay -and read. Design and functionality help, but it will be your content - your messaging, that moves them through your site and to your front door.
Below, we lay out 4 simple, real-world steps to evaluating whether your content is valuable to people. There aren’t any mysterious tools, software or degrees that make this easier, so just take a step back, look at what you have with a critical, ruthless eye and take it sentence by sentence.
Run every piece of content on your website through this question. There isn’t a reason for content to exist “just because.” If there isn’t enough to say about a topic to fill a page, find a better place for that little bit of value to live.
This isn’t easy. We get attached to the words we’ve written and feel that all of them are important. But some content is for websites, and some is meant to live on your social media pages or brochures.
On the web, a small bit of valuable content has a much higher chance of being read and remembered than a large amount with no value (that’s definitely a given).
Your messaging (the way your brand speaks) drives a user’s perception of you as a brand. A consistent voice throughout your content will be more likely to leave a user with a solid sense of who you are, long after they leave your site.
This is exactly what you’re looking to do. If there’s a piece of content that is dry, that doesn’t communicate what it needs to in your brand’s voice, rewrite or cut it out.
This gets to the heart of your content’s purpose on your website. Does it exist just to exist, or does it move people from a stranger (prospect) to a friend (customer). When they read your about page, does that content compel them to move on to the next step - your products or services.
This is much more than navigation, it’s the flow of your site. Evaluate your content on the basis of whether it captures the reader’s attention and holds it through to each step. If you want a user to call you at the end of their visit, lead them towards that step like an expert salesman with your content.
On a similar note to step #3, think about people as they click through your site. What are the steps they’ll most likely take.
For some industries, people want to know about the company before looking at their products, for others, they’ll look at the products and services before going any further into who the company is.
Having a thorough understanding of people visiting your site can have significant impact on their experience. Be realistic with your expectations and evaluate your content on whether it recognizes where they have come from and where they may be going.
Having meaningful content on a website is no easy task, but one that’s well worth the effort. If a user comes to your site and can get to the heart of who you are and what you can do for them, you’ll stand out among the vast amount of great companies don’t give them that experience.
Content Strategist and Copywriter at Station Four