A guide to web content

in Blog and website content copywriting

I’ve just been doing a bit of housekeeping and came across an introduction to web content I wrote to help explain the concepts to a client a little while ago. I thought it contained some pretty useful stuff, so I’ve adapted and updated it a bit and – voilà! Enjoy!

The jargon

Keywords

Keywords or phrases are what people type into search engines (usually Google) to find what they’re looking for. For a website to stand a chance of ranking on a keyword, that keyword needs to feature in the content as often as is natural to have it. For an average website, focusing on 10 – 12 keywords or phrases is about right.

For more on this, read Three steps to choosing your SEO keywords.

Search engine optimisation

This is the series of measures you take to maximise the chances of appearing high up in the results for your keywords.

The only way to guarantee a top ranking is to pay. Sponsored links (e.g. Google AdWords) can be a cost-effective way of guaranteeing rankings.

Ranking “naturally” (i.e. without paying) basically depends on:

  • including the keywords on the site (see above).
  • the volume of content on your site: if you have a single page and only mention keywords once or twice, you’re unlikely to rank well (unless you’re in a very niche area with little or no competition).
  • the frequency with which it is updated: if you update your site regularly, it shows you care about it and, by extension, care about your business and its customers.
  • the number of links from other (relevant) sites to yours: the more links there are, the more important search engines think it is because a link is essentially a recommendation; this is an incentive to provide genuinely useful content that others think it worth flagging up; other ideas for links include manufacturers’ websites, association websites, partner company websites.
  • competition from other websites: the more companies there are in your field, the harder it is to rank; choosing keywords wisely can mitigate against this.
  • the length of time a site has been online: you’re unlikely to appear in search engine rankings for a few months because it’s still being assessed.

As a general rule, good ranking depends on a mixture of all of the above.

Metatags

Title and description metatags are needed for each page. They describe what is on that page so because each page is unique, the metatags for each page should be unique. Search engines pay particular attention to keywords in the metatags, so they need to focus on including those.

Pippin Consultancy in Google search results

Note that there is also a keyword metatag. This was designed to include all the relevant keywords for that page. It was heavily abused, so is largely ignored by search engines. I don’t include keyword metatags as a general rule.

The content

Because the volume of content on a website can be an issue in ranking, my basic belief is, the more the better! Press releases, product guides, spec sheets, marketing collateral, articles, etc, etc – if it’s written, it needs to be on the site in the content or as a download. It isn’t like print – you’re not being charged per page (or if you are, it’s not much), so there’s no real cost implication in doing this. Plus the more info you have, the more useful a site will be to more people (e.g. if it’s got sales info and technical product guides, both prospective customers and current customers will visit it). It can always be prioritised and structured so the headline info is at the top of the site and the detail further down.

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