How To Make Your Website Content Work For You

Content is a key component of any website. Apart from supplying key information, it also works hand-in-hand with SEO. Your website content is such a critical element, that it can make or break your site (and by extension, your business).

Think about it. If your website content is of a poor quality, readers aren’t going to come back for more. If you have well-written content, but no visual appeal, people may find your content difficult to read. If you don’t supply links or easy navigation, your audience won’t know where to go for more information.

All of this means a drop in traffic and, in all likelihood, a higher bounce rate. This can impact on your search engine rankings. And if no one can find your site, they can’t use your service or buy your product. 

While this may sound a little far-fetched or overly simplified, the reality is that your content needs to work for you. If it isn’t doing this, then it could well be costing you customers. The solution? Make your website content work for you.

Readable Content

Readable website content uses good structure and interesting topics

What makes content readable? Readable content is easy-to-read. By this, we don’t mean it should be simple. Complex, technical content can be just as readable as a simple concept. So an explanation of compound interest can be as readable as an article on why children should get pocket money.

The things that make content readable are, primarily, structure and topic.

Structure

The layout of your text is an important element here. To begin with, you need a heading that adequately explains the content or purpose of your text. You should also use subheadings to break up the text into manageable chunks, and which also explain the content of each paragraph. 

Your paragraphs should be short. A few sentences each (if that), all of which should link back to your subheading. Try, where possible, to start each paragraph with a sentence that explains what will follow.

The reason for this is because people no longer have time to read through extensive texts. They are frequently looking for an answer to a question, and will therefore skim your article to find what they’re looking for. Make this easy for them.

The use of blocks in Gutenberg can also enhance the readability of your text. From headings, quotes and lists, to FAQ and How-to blocks, you can add a range of elements to your page.

Topic

The more interested someone is in what you have to say, the higher the chances that they will read your article. For this reason, your topic is important to the readability of your content. 

Choose topics that are relevant and interesting to your audience. But you should also ensure that your content is original. Apart from it being bad practice to say exactly what someone else has said, no one wants to read the same thing twice. 

When writing your content, focus on information that is original, educational and informative. And then ensure your content is well-written and to-the-point. 

Visual Content

Use visual content to engage your readers

You want to make your website content as visually appealing as possible. There are several reasons for this. People consume information far more quickly these days. Visual information can help them process and understand your content better. Many people also think visually, making visual content a better fit.

Images and image galleries can add a lot of appeal to your content. Gutenberg makes it easy to add images and image galleries to your page in WordPress. Alternatively you can use a plugin like FooBox (a responsive lightbox) or Foogallery to add more dimension to your images. 

Video is another great way to engage your audience. It’s becoming an increasingly popular channel, boosting traffic on your site and social media channels. 

Infographics and graphs can also supply visual information while making it easier to understand a difficult concept or process a large amount of information. When you do have a text-heavy article, graphs or other visual statistics can help break this up. 

Whatever visual content you use, make sure it is relevant. There is little value in using a cute cat meme or simply having images of stats that actually mean nothing. Unless they add to or complement your text, avoid using them.

Strategic Content

use strategic website content to boost traffic and conversions

Good content is a central factor of traffic and SEO. But you can help boost these, along with your sales, with some strategic content. By adding extra elements to your content, such as social share buttons, you can increase your readership.

Calls to Action are a good example of strategic website content. If your topic is all about improving your SEO, a Call To Action can encourage people to buy your SEO guide. CTAs should focus on one main action and stand out from the rest of the text. 

You should also be including links in your content. You should, where possible, link to other pages or blog posts on your own site. This improves the navigation and makes it easier for Google or other search engines to crawl your site. Include some outbound links to other credible, established websites as well. It can be good for your reputation.

Adding keywords to your content allows you to be found for the right reason. But you need to use relevant keywords the relate to your topic and your product or services. Avoid keyword stuffing though, and focus on the keywords for which you are most likely to rank.

Wrapping up…

Your website content can help improve your SEO, your traffic and by extension, conversions and sales. But only if your content is effective. 

Too many keywords, or visuals that aren’t relevant are unlikely to give you the boost you’re looking for. Likewise, adding good content, but without structure, may have a negative impact.

You need highly readable content, that is relevant and original. You need visual content that can help inform your readers while breaking up your text. And you need strategic content like CTAs to give you the extra edge.

Featured image by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

Social Media Posts: The Ideal Length + Other Tips

There always seems to be some debate around the best way to write social media posts. What’s the correct length? How many hashtags should you use? 

Obviously what you post will depend on where you post it. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all very different social networks (and that’s just the tip of the social media iceberg). So you wouldn’t use the same post across all of your networks.

To help you figure out the best approach, we’ve curated some guidelines for some of the more popular social channels. Keep in mind though, that while these are recommendations made from various studies, they are not definitive. If your audience responds to something different, go with it.

Facebook

Most sources agree that the ideal length for a Facebook post is between 40 and 80 characters. Short, concise posts get the job done. After all, people generally don’t have time to read much more than this.

Longer posts can also get cut off. So if your Call to Action or other crucial info comes after this, you have to rely on your readers to click on the ‘…see more’. 

If you do have a lot to say though, you can fit up to 63 205 characters into your Facebook post. And at 8 000 characters, the limit on comments is also generous.

Twitter

Given the nature of Twitter, the character limit is, well, limited. Twitter now allows for up to 280 characters in a Tweet, as opposed to the older 140 character limit. But that doesn’t mean you should use all of them.

The recommended number is between 71-100 characters. Short, to-the-point tweets encourage more engagement. Shorter tweets also leave more room for comments when people retweet. If you’re using a hashtag or two, try to keep these short as well. 

Instagram

While it’s a very visual platform, Instagram does set a limit on the characters you’re allowed in your captions. You can use up to 2 000 characters and 30 hashtags. 

But your caption will get cut off if it’s too long, so the recommended number of characters is 138-150.

For hashtags, try using between 5 and 10, and keeping these at less than 24 characters each. Studies show that engagement falls off after about 10 hashtags. Using the same hashtag all the time can also have a negative impact; Instagram may not show your post if you overuse a hashtag.

LinkedIn

A company update on LinkedIn can use up to 700 characters, but again this isn’t advisable. As with your other platforms, updates that are too long get cut off, so people have to be even more engaged to actually ‘Read more’. 

As LinkedIn is focused more on businesses and professional updates, a company update should be between 50 and 100 characters. Blue Compass says that if your post description exceeds 3 lines, LinkedIn cuts it off and uses ellipses.

The Right Length For Social Media Posts

Here’s an infographic that sums up the numbers. The numbers in bold are the recommended character figures – try these out and see if they work for you. 

Social media posts recommended characters

We haven’t included info on ads, sticking instead to organic posts. You can have a look at these sources for more information on character limits for both organic and paid social media:

As with any social media posts or campaigns, stick with what works for your readers. Having a good understanding of what your audience likes can help you choose the best social platforms and craft posts tailored for them. 

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

Content Marketing: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Content marketing is fast becoming one of the most effective ways to market your business. It’s a strategy that is gaining momentum, and is something every business should consider. Let’s have a look at what content marketing is all about, and how it can help your business.

What is Content Marketing?

There’s a good chance that you’ve encountered hundreds of examples of content marketing, probably without even knowing it. It is content on your website that adds value for your readers. It doesn’t promote a product or service (unlike your PR press releases) and it doesn’t sell you something (unlike advertising).

Content marketing promotes your business or product by providing value to your users. Your content may educate, inform, entertain or enlighten your audience. In other words, it gives them something of value. Because of this, they become return visitors, and they start to trust you (and your business or product). And this means they’re more likely to purchase your product or employ your services.

Content marketing also goes hand-in-hand with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines are looking to provide users with content that is useful to them. So good content, which uses keywords sparingly but effectively, can often do well in search rankings. This is especially true for content that is useful, relevant and which focuses on the audience.

Content Types

When we think of website content, we often just think of webpages or blogs. Of course, these are both great examples of content, but they’re certainly not the only way you can use content to market your product or business.

eBooks or online courses are an excellent form of content. They are something that your reader can take away from your website, in the form of a download. And this means that users will be engaging with your content on an ongoing basis.

Infographics, images and videos are also valuable. They provide an alternative way to view and understand the concept you’re discussing, while engaging readers on a different level. They also make for interesting visual content – ideal for sharing on social platforms. You might even consider using a podcast to reach a wider audience.

If you have a wide variety or interesting and stimulating content, there is a greater opportunity to reach a wider audience. More consistent content means that you keep your audience engaged and coming back for more. This allows you to build on your relationship with them. And if you can establish yourself as an authority, your audience will trust your content and your product.

Why You Should Be Using Content Marketing

You may very well be asking whether this marketing strategy is right for you. You may be wondering whether it is more effective than traditional advertising. Or perhaps you’re thinking that product-punting would be a better option.

But content marketing does work. For one thing, it doesn’t cost as much as your regular advertising avenues. You may hire a professional writer, or you may do your content creation in-house. Either way, generating good content will still be more cost effective than advertising.

Blogs that offer value, or infographics that explain a key concept are also going to last longer, compounding your ROI. Your content will stay on your website, ensuring new and return users can read and engage with it. This is helped along by SEO, with good content leading to a potentially increased visibility in search engines.

As you add to your online content, you increase the potential for traffic and backlinks, you can establish your expertise and build on relationships, and ultimately, you can increase your conversions. Simply put, more valuable content creates a potential for more traffic which means a higher chance of someone buying your product.

Content marketing benefits

Of course, the emphasis is on offering something of value to your readers. So punting a product isn’t going to work. But you can still add a call to action, or tactfully mention your business or product. The key is to practice integrity and give your customers honest, useful information.

Wrapping up…

The online marketplace is busy. And with everyone trying to sell something, it makes it difficult for your business to stand out. But content marketing is an effective way of offering something more to your customers and readers.

Take the opportunity to provide information, or educate someone. Give your users something worthwhile to read (or view). This will set you apart from the competition and your users will remember this. They’ll grow to trust your brand and value your opinion. And when it comes to crunch time, they’ll choose your product or service.

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What Is Your Marketing Message? (And is it the right one?)

How many times do you read a newspaper headline and cringe at the spelling mistakes, or marvel at the fact that typos and punctuation errors made it past the editor? Of course, we expect the news to be presented to us in impeccable English. But what about the marketing communication we receive on a daily basis? The blogs we read? The social posts? Is it okay for your marketing message to be any less impeccably presented?

The quick answer is a resounding NO! Because if your communication is anything less than exemplary, then you’re sending the wrong message. Sure, these are high standards, especially for the globalised world we live in. But why shouldn’t your customers expect the best? Especially if you expect them to purchase your merchandise, use your service, or buy into whatever it is you’re selling.

Where It Counts

Newspapers, magazines and other such publications are placed on a language pedestal. They employ trained, professional writers and editors. So we expect them to be able to deliver a story in decent English. But I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t also expect decent English from any professional communication.

And yes, this should apply to any platform of communication. If you’re sending a marketing email or communicating with your clients (or potential clients) in any way, use good English. From Facebook and Twitter to blogs, emails and even WhatsApp messages – your engagement with your clients sends a message. You need to make sure it’s the right one.

The Right Marketing Message

But how do you ensure this? Especially when English isn’t your native language, or simply isn’t your strong suit. Here are some common mistakes you don’t want to make, and some suggestions for how to improve your communication.

Spelling errors

It happens – you type too quickly and don’t notice the typo. Even when you read through what you’ve written, you might miss the mistake. The big problem here is consistently misspelt words – if you don’t how to spell a word, Google it! You can be sure that at least some of your readers will know how to spell it, and they’ll be wondering why you didn’t take the time to find out.

Words that shouldn’t be there

You read through your work, think ‘Oh, let me change that line’ and you forget to delete something else. Or you start to write something and change your mind, leaving half of the original sentence behind. Sure, it happens. But it can create a bad impression – it is a little sloppy, after all.

Poor punctuation

You don’t need an exclamation mark after every sentence. If you must use them, do so sparingly and where it counts. You do need full stops though. At the end of every sentence. Punctuation can change the meaning of what you’re communicating to your audience, so it needs to be done properly. I bet you’ve seen this one before, but it makes my point:

“Woman: without her, man would be lost.” or “Woman without her man, would be lost.”

Double meanings and Innuendos

In the marketing business, getting your meaning across is key. The wrong meaning can be detrimental to both your campaign and your product. Ambiguity, double meanings and innuendo need to be used with extreme caution.

Insinuating that a certain skin color, or gender, or religion is better (or worse) isn’t acceptable. Derogatory sexual connotations, or any belittling of someone else, isn’t acceptable. After all, can you afford for your marketing communication to send the wrong message?

We often wonder how big products can make these mistakes. Surely someone, somewhere along the marketing chain, realized the message could be misinterpreted? But smaller companies and products, or individuals working for or associated with a company or product, also need to practice caution. You can’t take to Twitter with inappropriate jokes or statements and hope that the world won’t take notice.

Things that just don’t make sense

Have you ever had to read a line, then read it again, and again, until you think you understand what it means? Giving your readers a brainteaser can be an effective tool to engage them. But not when it comes to communicating your message.

Personally, if I have to read something more than once, just to figure out what it means, I tend to move on. This leaves me feeling frustrated – why over-complicate something? Why use so many words when one would do? I simply don’t have the time to wade through long-winded overly-technical explanations when they don’t add anything meaningful.

Solutions

Creating the right marketing message is what we’re after. But how do we go about avoiding these common pitfalls? To start with, it helps to have someone else read your work. Of course, this may not be possible for things like social media posts. But it’s a definite must-do on your blog posts, webpages and any other long-form content. Ask someone to check for basic errors, but also to read deeper, looking for comments that could be misinterpreted.

Then correct your mistakes. If you don’t pick them up before you publish, don’t panic. You can always fix something when you do notice it. If it’s a Tweet (which you won’t be able to edit) and you’ve just published it, delete and repost. If something that you’ve published has caused offence, own it and (if you need to) apologize or explain. You may also want to remove the offending post.

Creative license

Using words like ‘And’ to start a sentence, or getting creative with your punctuation, really isn’t the norm, but it can be effective, or just sound right. Playing up double meanings and innuendos is another effective creative tool. Personally, I don’t like it when words are misspelt on purpose (I don’t think it’s gr8) but again, it can make an impact. But if you’re going to employ these tactics, do it sparingly and save them for when you want to make a point.

Remember, for the most part, readers don’t want to wade through long, complicated sentences. They don’t want to see glaring errors. They don’t want to have to figure out whether they should be offended or not. The essence of effective online communication is ease: easy-to-read, quick-to-understand, simple but powerful communication. So make sure your marketing message says the right thing.

Featured image by Marcus dePaula on Unsplash

Marketing Email Tips You Can’t Do Without

Once you’ve got your Marketing Email list ready to go, you’ll need to start sending newsletters. Regular newsletters or marketing emails can improve your communication with your customers and help you build good relationships. The tips below will show you just what you need to do to create an awesome newsletter.

Marketing Emails Should Be Consistent

Whether you send once a week or once every two months, your newsletters should go out regularly. When someone signs up for a weekly mail or a monthly newsletter, that’s what they expect. They don’t want to wait three weeks for their weekly news, or conversely, get mails every week instead of once a month.

Regular communication also helps build your relationship and lets your customers know that you’re still around and still relevant.

Craft Your Subject Line Carefully

The first thing someone will see in your newsletter is your subject line. For Email Marketing to be successful, you need a good open rate (among other things). So your subject line has to entice people to open the newsletter.

To this end, subject lines should be relevant and interesting. HubSpot says your subject line should include “actionable language” such as verbs or something that implies action. Something like ‘Don’t Miss out on Opening Day Specials’ implies action: you want to make sure you buy items on Opening Day.

HubSpot also recommends creating relevance by personalizing your subject line. You can use the person’s name, but this tactic has been done before. Rather try segmenting your lists and using language that speaks to each groups’ location, gender, or age, for example. Most importantly, maintain relevance by ensuring that the subject line conforms to the body of the email. Don’t promise one thing and deliver something different.

Catchy subject lines are a great idea, but they first need to be clear. If someone doesn’t know what they’re going to get, they’re unlikely to open their email. So begin by writing a clear, interesting subject line. Then if you can, tweak it to make it catchy.

Preview text, the copy which appears after your subject line in the inbox, can also be used to your advantage. Use it to amplify the message of your subject line, or add something humorous here.

Write Compelling Copy

Once you’ve convinced someone to open your email, you now have to entice them to read it. Hopefully this will also result in click throughs to your site, thereby driving traffic and helping you convert this into revenue. This is why you need compelling copy.

Your choice of words is important. If you sound too much like spam, or you use over-exaggerated, too-enthusiastic marketing lingo, you’ll lose your readers. The same is true for copy that is boring. A conversational tone, with easy-to-read language should be your goal.

You also want to avoid overloading the newsletter with cluttered content. It’s easier to focus on one specific topic says HubSpot, and include a mix of educational and promotional content (with the emphasis being on educational). Use white space to help avoid the feeling of a cluttered newsletter.

Besides, your copy should offer a taste of your site’s content. Use compelling wording to entice your readers to click through to longer blogs and articles. This way you can keep the newsletter content short, sweet and to the point, while driving traffic to your site.

Remember to read through your copy! This applies to anything you write, whether for your newsletter or your site. Your content may include all the right keywords, but if your spelling, grammar and general language is poorly written, your readers won’t stick around for long.

Add a Call To Action

Email marketing can be used to inspire and motivate your readers to take action. But you need to tell them what action they need to take. This is where your CTA (Call To Action) comes in.

You can use a CTA to encourage people to buy your product or try out your service. But it’s also handy for building your social media following, or getting people to rate your service, or asking for a donation. The possibilities are many.

But your newsletter should only contain one main CTA – there can be others, but you should only really focus on one. Make your Call To Action clear, to-the-point and simple to do. Use links, use active language, and create a sense of urgency. OptinMonster says that people really do have FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – so use this to your advantage.

Make Use of Images Wisely

Visual aids can go a long way in helping you communicate with, and appeal to your subscribers. Images can brighten up your newsletters, draw attention to promotions or new articles, and help you get your message across without being too wordy.

But you need to practice caution. Too many images can be as distracting as text-heavy emails. Try to avoid adding clutter to your newsletters with lots of little images, and rather select just a few to convey your message.

Also remember that not everyone will download or open your images. So you need to include Alt Text (the text you see when an image doesn’t open) with your images. You also need to ensure that your email can be understood without having to see the image.

And Remember…

You need to give people the option to unsubscribe. Be sure to include an Unsubscribe button or link, and make it obvious. There is little more frustrating than searching for an Unsubscribe link that’s been hidden in complicated language in tiny print at the end of a very long email.

Finally, test your campaigns. Use an A/B split to find out what appeals more to your readers. See what works, and learn what doesn’t.

Using a marketing email is an effective way of communicating with your readers, and it’s essential for building your community. But everything from your subject line to your Call To Action needs to be carefully thought out, drafted and tested.

Featured Image by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Why You Need Regular Fresh Content on Your Site

Good quality, fresh content is no longer a luxury when it comes to online communication. There is a seemingly limitless amount of information readily available online, but when you’re trying to get noticed, this isn’t a good thing.

How do you stand out amongst the masses? How do you compete with the endless stream of information on the internet? One way to do this is to continually provide innovative, useful and fresh content.

Of course, your content needs to be good quality, while providing value to your readers. And this takes time. But if you can offer regular new (or updated) content that ticks all the boxes, then you’re bound to see your efforts pay off.

Fresh regular content improves site traffic and SEO

Fresh Content = Dynamic Web Presence

In today’s online environment, you need to stay relevant. If you don’t publish new content regularly, you immediately put yourself at a disadvantage. Your competitors will be posting new content and they’ll be doing whatever they can to engage their (and your) readers.

Consistent content can build brand awareness, says Inc.com, and you can use this to successfully market yourself across all channels. You may not be able to add new posts or pages every day, or even every week. But you do need to post regularly, so your readers will know when to expect something new.

The idea is to post fresh content, either new or updated, on a regular basis. Posting more often is good, but it takes time to deliver good quality, informative material. And when it comes to content, quality should come first. Not only should posts be useful and informative, but they also need to be well-written and readable. If not, your readers aren’t likely to stick around for very long.

Audience Building

Engaging your audience is a must. New content can keep your readers coming back for more. This builds loyalty and generates interest, which not only means you can retain your audience, but you can also build on it.

Your content needs to add value though. You cannot expect to build an audience without content that offers something unique, new or valuable in some way. Of course, this will depend on your focus, and on what your audience wants. But as long as you add value, your content can help build your following.

There are plenty of innovative ways to engage with your readers. Information can come in many forms – think videos, infographics, and visuals. For lengthy texts, why not create an infographic. This way you can share the visuals on your social networks and drive traffic back to your site for a longer read.

Inc.com points out that keeping your audience engaged can help you generate revenue through existing clients. This is simpler, and generally cheaper, than finding new customers. Of course, engaging content can also lead to more shares and comments, which in turn will help to build your readership.

Authority and Credibility

Publishing new and useful content on a regular basis sets you up as an authority on the topic and helps establish you as a credible source of information. This can further help to establish you or your business as an industry leader.

Innovative thinking can take this a step further. Not only will your audience see you as aa credible source of information, they’ll also see you as progressive and forward-thinking. Use your content to challenge and engage your readers.

Content and SEO

While we can’t know exactly what search engines look for in their ranking, we do have a good idea that fresh content is a factor. Posting regular content, or making updates, means that this content gets indexed. SEO SiteCheckup makes this point, saying that frequent indexing can help with your SEO.

Search engines aim to provide users with content that is useful and relevant, so consider when you are generating this content. Good quality, highly readable information will go a long way to helping your ranking. As will providing content that is of real value to your audience. Plus there is the added bonus of using more keywords.

Fresh content also allows you the opportunity to add links to other relevant pages on your site. More than this, it creates opportunities for others to link back to you. All of this improves your chances of converting traffic into sales, of increasing newsletter sign-ups, or of just improving your bounce rate.

SEO SiteCheckup recommends keeping content standards high and updating your site once a day, or at least two to three times a week. They add that website comments also count as updates, so search engines will index your site when you get new comments. You can also update your homepage or other existing content to help your SEO.

Wrapping up

Fresh new content is every bit as essential as a good product or service. Without it, you are at a disadvantage. With it, you can build and engage with your audience. You can stay relevant. You can establish yourself as an authority and innovative market leader. Plus you can improve your search engine ranking.

But remember, your content needs to offer value. Go for quality content that is easy to read, interesting and helpful. This can help you stand out above the competition.

Feature image by Rafal Jedrzejek on Unsplash