You know the old adage that applies to real estate: location, location, location? Well, when it comes to websites the money-making rule is: content, content, content.
Content is, in this context, simply information presented on a website. Blog posts, static articles, graphics, photo galleries, usable forms and so on all fall under the umbrella of “content.” You want a lot of it, you want it to be good, and you want it to be unique to your site.
The reason you need original content, when it comes to search engine traffic, is because Google’s robots ding and down-rank sites with “duplicate content” – articles or other material that is the same as something else already on the web. It’s a penalty that will set you back in the ranking algorithm. The good news is, it’s easy to avoid. You wouldn’t want to offer your site’s visitors redundant, useless content anyway. Additionally, be sure to avoid placing the same content (even your own) on more than one page or location on your site. Even though your intent is not malicious, your site will still be penalized, unless you devise a Google-approved workaround such as specifying canonical links or setting a preferred domain.
So, where are you going to get this great content? It won’t write itself. But with a little investment of time or money, you can create or commission content that will both add to your site’s usability and increase traffic.
1. Look at what you have. You may already have content available without even realizing its potential value in terms of web development. Check your personal or company “archives.” Maybe you wrote a how-to book back in the early ’90s. Or you might find some brochures, worksheets or guidebooks that you never got around to putting online. Just because you’ve found content that can be recycled doesn’t mean it’s outdated. As long as it’s relevant, you’re being resourceful – and attracting site visitors — by putting it online.
2. Hire a writer. If you don’t have the time, confidence or desire to write your own content, or “copy,” seek out a professional writer to do it for you. Sites such as Elance let you post a description of the project you need done and then freelance or moonlighting copywriters, journalists and other experienced wordsmiths “bid” on the job. (This is also a great way to find graphic designers.) Most writers are willing to “ghostwrite” under your name, write blog posts on an ongoing basis and so on. Be sure to communicate your needs well for the best results right out of the gate. If you need photos, videos or graphics, also check out iStock or another stock photo agency. Your web design company or programmer could also recommend someone. Keep in mind that hiring a local writer or photographer can be more affordable than you’d expect.
3. Crowdsourcing. With the advent of social media and the interactive nature of the Internet, there are plenty of people who are willing and eager to contribute to online projects in exchange for products, as part of a contest or just for fun. Testimonials, reader-submitted photos and guest blog posts by someone in a field that complements yours are all potential sources of free content. In the case of a guest writer, it’s a win-win because they’re getting exposure and a link just by appearing on your blog. You could also, with attribution to the author, post articles you find offered for free or by paying a syndication fee to services such as Associated Content and Ezine Articles, but of course they won’t be unique to your site.
4. Public domain. There are many thousands of books and other materials that have fallen into the public domain and can be republished online for free by virtually anyone. The trouble is, the online offerings are pretty picked over and you don’t want to put up the same old stuff everyone else has. You might want to try doing a little legwork at a library, used bookstore or even an antique store. In many cases, if the copyright is old enough, it’s fair game. Otherwise, see if you can track down the author or publisher and buy the right to license the material – or even work out a revenue-sharing deal.
5. Write it yourself. I know; you don’t have time. Who does? But, especially if you’re just starting out with a blog or online presence, it’s an affordable way to get started while shaping the tone and feel of your site or blog. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of writing experience. Just picture your target audience and write how you speak. Be conversational, descriptive and helpful. Keep your keywords in mind, but you’ll usually find that they flow naturally as you write. If you’re worried about grammar or readability, you can always hire an editor or proofreader, or ask a friend or colleague, to give your copy a once-over.
Presenting quality content is well worth the investment of your time and money. It should pay off exponentially as more content means more keywords, more pages for search engines to point to, more happy visitors and, ultimately, more revenue for your business!
Posted by: Sitehatchery.com – a Chico web development company providing web design and development services nationwide.