Written Online Content: Why Your Business Needs ItElance_Keith | Feb 17, 2011
So, you’ve spent a lot of time making sure your new website best represents your new company. Maybe you’ve gone onto Elance and hired a talented web developer who put together a visual tour de force that you couldn’t be happier with. But before launching and moving forward with your business, there’s something that you must consider.
If you are overlooking your written content, you’re potentially making a huge error that will prevent repeat visitors and potential customers. As important as a visually appealing website is, its appearance can only take you so far with a weak message. Once a visitor starts looking around, if there isn’t adequate content to engage them, then they’ll end up clicking away from your site just as quickly as they found it.
An effective website only has to be a few things—clear, to-the-point, and fresh. Your potential customers have a wealth of options to visit on the web, including your competitors, so you want to ensure that you maximize their experience while you have their attention. A great visual interface will be the bait, but content will be what keeps them exploring your pages and having relevant, timely content will give them either the information needed to pursue your product or service, or at least come back to your site for further research and knowledge.
What Does ‘Content’ Mean?
Web content generally refers to textural or visual information displayed on a website, not limited to articles, blogs, company history and product descriptions, case studies, slideshows, and photo galleries. While the images on a site are important, it is the writing that is too often neglected. Effective written content can include product news and announcements, interviews you or your team have done with the media, customer testimonials, how-to guides, and much more. These items let your site project your business vision and share your enthusiasm about your people, products, knowledge and success with your readers, and in a competitive landscape, can make all the difference.
As great as that traditional content is, the most popular (and worthwhile) type of writing today is through blogging. When your business blogs, it can make appear that you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, that you are engaged, and very importantly—that you are active and working. Even if you don’t have regular, formal press releases about your latest product offering or media mention, a blog is often all it takes to have a regular web presence that can draw repeat visitors to your site. The content is up to you—it can be an end-all center of information on your complete industry or an informal series of posts about your daily activities, promotions, or general musings. Whatever shape it takes, the key is to remember that your blog, if done right, gives your business a clear voice, a personality, and can ultimately earn your readers’ trust.
Keep It Fresh
Stagnant websites discourage visitors from visiting again if they continue to see unchanged content each time they visit. You should always try to be updating your content, as it can better project your business as one that is knowledgeable, current, and attentive to its customers’ needs. You should consider your written content to be a work in progress, and you should take it seriously. Think of it this way—if you put out a quality product even before you’ve won their business, they’re likely to feel more confident in you once they’re ready to select a vendor.
Your Next Move
So now you understand why it’s so important that you have great content. But what if you don’t consider yourself a master wordsmith—what do you do?
The reason you should avoid tackling content on your own is that the time you spend racking your brain over new topics to keep your content fresh is time that you don’t have to run your actual business. Remember that web designer you hired to build your site? You probably went to Elance to hire them because you didn’t have the expertise to do it yourself. Why should content, which can be an even larger, on-going undertaking, be any different? Businesses like borntosell.com and VintangeAndRare.com are turning to Elance not only to hire on-demand talent, but to free up valuable resources and time so that business owners can focus on growth and profitability, not the minutia of day-to-day activities.
If you’re happy with the writing you have already developed and are just looking for some fine-tuning, finding a good editor can do wonders. Remember, optimizing content across your business’ site can mean the difference between a one-time visitor and a happy customer. But if you want to develop a content strategy moving forward, you’re likely going to want to work with an experienced article writer or content writer in order to build a long-term plan—and if you wanted to map out a series of blog posts for the next several months, there are specialists for that as well.
You’re the pro when it comes to your business and that should be your focus. For everything else, in particular your web content, leave it up the pros in their industries. You (and your future success) will thank you in the long run.