Are You a Victim of Bad Web Content?

Let’s assume that a company has traffic flowing to its website and receives a fair number of daily visitors, but not that many hits. This could mean that paid advertising is getting an audience to a site that is not holding their attention. There are three major factors that cause people to navigate away from a website: (1) slow load time, (2) bad content, and (3) poor graphics. Twenty-five percent of the reason a business loses traffic could be attributed to poor content. How do you know if you’re a victim?

 
1. The site doesn’t offer compelling content: Compelling content develops a loyal following, so that not only are people visiting the site and reading through the links but they also are returning. On every business website, whether an e-commerce site or one that offers a service, free content needs to be valuable to the reader. To use one of my favorite examples, Harry Knowles began his blog, Ain’t It Cool News, as a film geek for film geeks. His reviews of movies grew an audience that spawned his affiliation with other bloggers who cover television, video games, and comics, which expanded the original audience even further. Now Harry’s blog isn’t just targeted to his niche of die-hard movie fans, but his large following caught the attention of mainstream media so that directors, like Steven Spielberg, hold online chats on Harry’s site.
 
However, on Harry’s site, the content is the sole reason for the site. Let’s say a company sells a product. If a company sells smoothies, the content of their website should offer the reader education on nutrition and the health benefits and risks of not receiving the daily recommended dose of vitamins and minerals, a calorie chart of all their products, perhaps a method for readers to track their daily food intake online, and coupons available exclusively to their online audience. Not only will this content keep people on the site longer but more importantly will create loyal visitors to the site. Initially the audience will start with people with an interest in health and nutrition, but once that audience has grown, it will seep into the mainstream (think Jamba Juice). Even with differing products (movie reviews vs. tangible goods), the need for compelling content is still the same.
 
2. The site doesn’t immediately identify the target audience: Although it might be apparent what good or service a site offers, some sites have such sparse content that it’s hard to know for whom the product or service is appropriate. Too much misdirected content can cause the same problem. For instance, a company makes a line of frozen meals. The site shows pictures of the packaging, tells where to buy them, and the price, but the content doesn’t clearly explain the meals. Do these meals offer a quick and easy method to create ethnic meals? Are these highly nutritious meals that children will enjoy? Amy’s Kitchen is the nation’s leading natural frozen food brand that began with a loyal customer group of vegetarians and later reached people wanting an easy organic or gluten free option. A person looking for steak recipes won’t stay long on the site, but people who shop Whole Foods and Central Market will definitely find a home there.
 
3. The site isn’t organized well: This is a case of when form needs to compliment content. Content is not an afterthought when the site is complete. Content should actually be developed, or at least outlined, before the site is designed. The navigation tabs and links are determined by what content will be included. So make sure the web developer/designer and content writer are hired roughly at the same time and work together from the beginning.
 
4. The content is static: Webcrawlers hate static content. If you want to keep or improve the ranking of a website (stay tuned for articles on SEO), the content has to stay fresh. Also, an audience won’t return to a website just to read the same content over and over. Blogs and user friendly content management systems (CMS) make it extremely easy to keep web content up to date.
 
5. The content is unoriginal: Many companies believe that simply having a web presence is enough and waste money on template designs and canned content. Be sure that one or more of your competitors has had a similar idea. In Austin, Texas, over five CPA firms all used the same ProSystem Site Builder software, and as a result, have almost identical content. It’s impossible to differentiate a company from its competition if everyone is speaking generically.
 
If bad content has happened to your company’s website, hiring a good professional writer might help. Good websites are a powerful marketing tool, but those that are poorly put together can actually result in a loss of potential clients.

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