Would You Read Your Site?

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In all the discussions of Google Penguin updates, shifting search engine algorithms, novel content strategies and social media marketing, one key question sometimes goes unasked: Would you read it? If you didn’t have to edit, proofread and publish your content, would your site still hold your interest or teach you something you didn’t know? The answer isn’t just academic; your SEO strategy depends on it.

Hobby blogs and entertainment sites have it easy; their subject matter readily lends itself to fans and followings. Business content and commercial writing still has to engage readers, but the content is far more constrained. That doesn’t mean it has to be dull or look like every other site in your niche; in fact, it shouldn’t – not if you want to win reader approval and search engine attention. Search engines have become so sophisticated at assessing site authority and recognizing natural writing that they almost rival human readers in their choosiness.

Making Blogs Must-Read

From catchy titles to relevant content, your blog posts should give visitors reasons to return to your site. Ideally, your content creation team or blogger can provide unique insights with every post, but just taking a fresh look at a previously covered topic or presenting company news in an engaging way puts you leagues ahead of competitors whose blogs are pure advertising streams or shallow rehashes of someone else’s content.

Take a look at your blog and see if it fills the following needs as well as it should:

  • Great post titles and headlines: Finding out what your readers’ pain points are and addressing it right up front in the title is key to getting your visitors’ attention. Address their hopes and concerns in the title, and you’ve earned a little of their time.
  • Engaging content: A title only buys you a few seconds; if you want to engage readers for the next few minutes, your content has to be fun – or at least relatively painless – to read. A professional blogger or writing team that helps define your brand’s voice is a huge help with this.
  • Relevance: Sticking with readers for more than a few minutes means giving them blog content they can use. Style tips from an online shoe store, how-to posts from a CPA’s blog or, yes, content tips on a content creation blog give readers something to think about a day or two later when they’re living their lives. Relevance makes your blog a part of what your customers do when they aren’t at your site.

Adding Interest to Home Pages

Blogs are ephemeral, but site pages have a lasting impact. How do you make your home page and other static elements of your site interesting and informative while keeping SEO in mind? Giving your site a distinctive voice is part of the equation; so are adding content, freshening links and showcasing the ever-changing parts of the site such as your blog and social media streams.

To a large extent, static pages now exist to funnel readers to other site features; your content management system should integrate static HTML landing pages and home pages into an overall content package. Save static pages for the information that changes infrequently – your About Us page, for example, or your FAQ – and make sure every word looks flawless. Neither readers nor search engine algorithms will forgive egregious mistakes on static pages. Hiring a content creation specialist to create and edit static pages is especially cost-effective because these pages change rarely.

Starting Conversations in Social Media

Social media should be a dialogue, but not all businesses manage that dialogue adroitly. If you’re sending out a steady stream of ads and irrelevant information, you’re monopolizing the conversation. Fail to pay attention to social media channels, and you become a wallflower at what should be your own party, watching others converse on your site without contributing to the discussion.

The most effective social media content provides open-ended conversation-starters. Your posts and tweets should get people talking with entertaining links, clever comments, good advice and thought-provoking questions. Readers can tell when you’re genuine, and they respond to real questions about their interests, likes and dislikes. Social media content pros can help you put words to the things you most want to know and that your customers most want to be asked.

Whether you’re focusing on your home page, your blog or your Twitter feed, the cardinal rule is this: Publish content you’d choose to read even if you didn’t own it. Skip the spun content and the keyword stuffing in favor of custom-written articles and blog posts. Your readers will thank you.

© Business Content, Inc. 2013 All Rights Reserved.

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