It’s not a secret that solid content is a must when it comes to website performance and optimization. Messaging, story-telling, and blogs all need to be structured in a specific way to meet standards that drive conversions and appeal to search engines. So what are those standards, and should you be the one to write the content? Here we tackle what you need to know about content and a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide if you should write your own content or contract it out.
The first thing you will need to know on your path to deciding who should write your content is what some of the basic standards are. Here are a few for you to consider…
1. Speak to your audience: Your content’s primary responsibility, above all else, is to build trust and a relationship with your existing and future customers. Many times we think we need to cram as much information about our business into a webpage as possible. That is not the case. Figure out what your customer needs and wants from you (by creating buyer personas) and then offer a quick, easy delivery that provides a great user experience.
2. Keywords: While you are speaking to your audience, remember that your content is a dance between what your customers need and want from you and what search engines need and want from you. To strike this balance, determine what keywords you would like to rank for AFTER you write your website content. If you do it before, you will find yourself artificially injecting keywords into your copy which feels fake to both the reader and to Google. Once your web copy is written, go back and re-read it. Chances are, your copy already contains a lot of the keywords that you want to rank for. If it doesn’t, find occasional and organic ways to incorporate relevant keywords into your web copy.
3. Length: Here again, you need to be mindful of your audience when it comes to copy length, but you also need to give Google’s bots something to crawl. Too much homepage content might turn your potential customer off, too little will turn Google off. Write disciplined copy that creates the best user experience, but also gives Google enough to work with for ranking purposes.
4. Branding: When it comes to doing business, for small businesses especially, messaging can change quickly. Let’s take the pandemic for example. Overnight, lots of businesses had to pivot to stay open. There’s a good chance that their messaging was outdated before COVID, and that was only exaggerated by the pandemic. Every three years or so, it’s good to evaluate your branding message. Does your content messaging still align with the evolution of your business?
5. Storytelling: Storytelling is important to the people who visit your website and read your blogs because they are looking for relationship. They want to find someone that they relate to, and that they can feel good about doing business with. They want to like the business so much that they can recommend it to friends and family. You can build trust and relationships with your customers and prospects by sharing your story, behind-the-scenes information, and what makes your business unique.
6. Information architecture: When we talk about content, we need to remember that HOW the content is structured is just as important as what the content says. We wrote a blog on information architecture, check it out here.
7. SEO: Some of the aforementioned items (user experience and keywords) are search engine optimization best practices. There are 100s of ranking factors, and they are forever changing. If you are familiar with SEO best practices and stay on top of SEO trends, then you will be miles ahead when it comes to creating content that is worth the time and energy that you put into it.
8. Mobile experience: Even with our reliance on mobile devices, it can be challenging to remember the importance of mobile experience when crafting copy. Formatting for mobile is HUGE. A balance of images and well-structured copy is vital. Look at your content on a mobile device and ask yourself if you would take the time to navigate it from your Smartphone. If the answer is no, break up the content, delete unnecessary information, and incorporate compelling and meaningful images.
DIY or contract out?
When trying to decide if you should write web copy and blogs yourself or if you should hire a professional, there are a few important things to be aware of:
1. Time: If you’ve tried to write your content yourself, you already know how time-consuming it is. Properly researched blogs can take two to four hours to write, depending on the length. Short blogs are great, but if you are trying to establish yourself as an authority in your industry, it makes sense to occasionally write longer blogs. Once the blog is written, you will need to upload the blog and add internal and external links, CTAs (calls-to-action), bios, and royalty-free imagery.
2. Experience: Do you have experience writing? If you are an experienced writer, marketing copywriting may come a bit easier to you, and you may be able to complete content pieces in less time than people who don’t have writing experience.
3. Desire: Do you like to write? Do you want to write? Do you think you are the best resource for sharing your business’s message and information?
4. Ability: Do you have the ability to step out of the knowledge capital you have surrounding your business and write from the layperson’s perspective? Will you be able to resist the desire to render historical information about your topic (business owners have a tendency to weigh content down with the genesis of a particular product or service)? Can you take yourself out of what you know and craft it into something that puts your customer first?
Here are a few tools to help you, should you decide to write your own copy or hire it out…
1. Hootsuite. Hootsuite is an editorial calendar that helps you to schedule your copy into social media posts.
2. Getty Images. Getty is a stock photography image supplier that provides a vast library of royalty-free images to its subscribers. Unsplash and Flickr are popular choices for free images, but the options are a bit more limited and you need to be certain to credit the image correctly.
3. HubSpot. HubSpot is marketing automation software that can help you get the most out of your content efforts by leveraging it as inbound marketing.
4. Grammarly. If you are a bit rusty when it comes to writing, download Grammarly. The program skims your writing and underlines possible errors.
5. Upwork and Fiverr. Both of these platforms offer freelance options for every manner of content that you need or want.
Do you copy?
As you can see, there are many things to consider when it comes to deciding who will craft your messaging, stories, and information. Content bears a tremendous amount of responsibility and it takes a healthy amount of time to execute correctly. Making certain that it is done right will yield a return on your investment. If it’s done wrong, it may do more harm than good.
Kat Hobza is First Call Web’s Marketing and Sales Manager. She holds certificates in HubSpot Inbound Marketing, Social Media, and HubSpot Software, as well as Google Ads. She helps First Call Web clients build their online presence through strategic web development, copywriting, and pay-per-click advertising, as well as meets with small business leaders regularly to determine if First Call Web is a fit for their online marketing goals. When Kat is not weaving her online magic, she likes to write, fly-fish, golf, goof around with her family, play in the sun, stare mindlessly at the Bitterroot mountains from her deck, and binge watch Netflix.