Thursday, March 15, 2007

Building Traffic From Content

Who are you writing for?
The answer to this question is twofold. Your website copy has two audiences: people and search engines. A successful online strategy must address both of these. By writing for the search engines, you can drive traffic to your site. By writing for people, you can best present your website, service, or product, and convert these visitors into customers.

Although the tactics for targeting these two audiences differ, with a little bit of knowledge and a lot of practice, you can create website content that can:
•Help drive traffic to your site
•Sell your website, services, or product
•Increase your search engine results
•And much more!

Content for the people
Jakob Nielson heads a large body of research that has found that websites users do not read content word for word. Instead, most of people scan pages, picking out individual words and phrases.

We can use this to create content that is best suited for scanning. For example, text elements that are bold, in a different color, or displayed in lists are usually the items that grab our attention first.

We only have a few seconds to hook our users, so here are some helpful tips to make your content more success:
•Group content into small, meaningful chunks of content – one idea per paragraph
•Use highlighted headings to mark these paragraphs
•Headings should be descriptive and meaningful
•Frontload your content (use the inverted pyramid style) to start with your conclusion
•Be concise, clear, and use language that is simple and to the point (avoid jargon!)
•Use bulleted lists

Content for the spiders
Your content is targeted towards your audience. We want it to resonate with them, and provide an emotional connection. However, there is another silent audience that you must consider when creating website copy - search engine crawlers.

Search engines will bring people to your site, so with a few small tricks you can help elevate your search engine results.
•Establish the most important keyword(s) and phrases and work these into your copy
•Use the opening paragraph to summarize the page (see Inverted Pyramid bullet above)
•Pay attention to keyword density – use your keywords and phrases in different forms, but don’t repeat the same phrases too often on a single page
•Make sure your anchor text is descriptive when linking

Conclusion
Creating content for the web challenges you to write effective copy for both people and search engines. But remember that although search engines will bring traffic to the site, ultimately it is the content’s connection with the reader that will convert visitors to customers.

Dune

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

~Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear