Web Content Development: Six Critical Types of Pages

Posted by Robin on Jul 30th, 2008

When I work with a client to develop a website content plan, there are typically a few different types of pages that work well, depending on the client’s goals and the preexisting site content. Obviously, not all content falls into one of these categories, but these are some common types of useful website content:

1. Core Pages
These are the pages that you probably think of first when you think of website development: a homepage, an “about” page, hours and directions, a contact page, and basic information about products and services. For example, a restaurant would need to include the above pages, plus menus (and please, for the love of God, don’t put them in PDF–I know it’s easier for updating seasonal menus, but it’s a drag from a user perspective. At least from my personal user perspective. MS Word is even worse.) A restaurant may also include information on catering, special events, and reservation policies.

  • To provide visitors with expected information

2. Landing Pages
Landing pages, also known as doorway pages, are highly targeted towards a specific search term (often in conjunction with a pay-per-click ad campaign). For instance, if a Seattle-area Mexican restaurant was trying to expand its local catering business, it would be useful to have pages focused on “Mexican Catering in Seattle” and “Seattle Catering.” (A tantalizing PPC ad that leads to the page might say, for example, “Seattle Catering–Sizzling Fajitas, Crispy Nachos.”) When a user clicks on the ad, or the natural search engine result that leads to the page, she should see the info she’s looking for right away.

  • Give the user what she’s looking for, whether she arrives by ad click or search engine result
  • Effectively target the term for natural search engine results (not with artificial keyword density parameters, but with strategic research and use of search terms in the right places)
  • Get the visitor to take action, such as ordering up a taco bar for a graduation party

3. Product Pages
Product pages are especially helpful for retailers who are trying to help customer find very specific products. Let’s say you sell digital cameras and you want your customers to know that you specialize in Canon products. Since zillions of other retailers sell Canon cameras, you want to target specific models–but you need to distinguish your copy from the same copy (or total lack of copy) that appears on all of those other retailers’ pages. Why? Because duplicate content tends to get filtered out of natural search results, and having no content at all provides little indication of what the page is about. This is why more and more retailers are offering product reviews by customers, but you can just as easily include some customized marketing copy geared towards specific products.

  • Target your products more effectively in natural search results
  • Provide useful information to site visitors attempting to make a purchasing decision

4. Blog Posts
A blog is by no means a necessary component of doing business online, although it offers a couple of major advantages: it’s an easy way to keep your site fresh, and it can be a great tool for communicating with customers.

  • Inform visitors of business-specific news
  • Showcase your opinions, ideas, and expertise

5. Special Resources
Special resources are pages that set your site apart from your competitors–something that you can give to your users that no one else can. For instance, if you’re a plumber in an area with lots of historic homes, you might devote a section of your site to the unique plumbing problems of older houses.

  • Demonstrate your expertise
  • Build trust
  • Propel sales

6. Pages Targeted to Social Media
Social media sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Digg allow users to share web content that they find compelling for being funny/controversial/sad/irritating/exciting. Each social media site has its own ethos, and different types of material are going to appeal to different social media audiences. Social media users may not convert into customers, but if you submit something unusual or compelling to a social media site, it may become popular enough that bloggers and site owners link to you, which can be a nice boost. There’s potential for crossover between a “Special Resource” page and page geared towards social media. (Best example ever of making effective use of social media for brand promotion: http://www.willitblend.com/)

  • Get traffic to your site
  • Gain brand recognition
  • Get people to link to your website

Depending on what kind of business website you’re developing, you will need at least one (and probably more than one) of these types of pages. You may, for instance, choose to start out with some well-developed core pages and then add some additional landing pages or special resource pages in order to increase your site traffic and grow your business.

Mission Statement

Posted by Robin on Jul 21st, 2008

Mission statements are so 1999, but I thought I’d write one anyway:

My mission as a web content developer is to put my copywriting skills and knowledge of best practices in Internet marketing to work on your behalf, advancing your web presence and making your products and services easier for your customers to find.

With genuine enthusiasm for your product, a solid understanding of your target audience, thorough research, and superior attention to detail, I’ll help you meet the goals that you’ve set for your site and your business.

Simplistic Utilization of Language

Posted by Robin on Jul 14th, 2008

Sometimes, in their desire to “sound good” people fall into the linguistic tiger trap of not saying what they actually mean. For example:

“A simplistic black dress is the answer to all of your fashion problems.”
A simple black dress might very well be the answer to one’s fashion problems, depending on the degree of sartorial challenge. However, a simplistic black dress would add to one’s difficulties with style; I’m not sure what such a dress would actually look like, but simplistic actually means “overly simple” in a negative sense, as in “His simplistic response didn’t even come close to answering her question.”

Another example is “utilize” vs. “use.” This is a regular occurrence in business-speak: “Company X utilizes special software for tracking inventory and managing costs, resulting in increased savings for consumers.” The trap here is the same as with “simplistic.” “Utilize” sounds like “use” but fancier; therefore, it must be better, right?

However, “utilize” means “to make useful” or “to turn to good use” as opposed to just using a tool for its intended purpose. Company X is using special software intended specifically for inventory management, so “use” is the appropriate choice here.

Now, if Company X repurposed robotic bumblebees originally intended for espionage to keep track of inventory, the company would indeed be utilizing the bumblebees, as inventory control was not their original raison d’être.

Why I Love Small Business Copywriting

Posted by Robin on Jul 10th, 2008

Why do I focus on working with smaller businesses? Working with larger companies is great (and I enjoy the work), but for a few reasons, I find small to midsize businesses, as well as nonprofit organizations, even more fun to work with when it comes to copywriting and web content development. Here’s why:

  • Talking directly to the decision-maker means that projects get done faster and have a more immediate impact on the business. I find the collaboration exciting and it’s great to see positive results without waiting for the layers of bureaucracy to catch up.
  • In my experience, small business websites often have lots of exciting potential that isn’t being tapped. I find this tremendously stimulating because I know my work can make a significant difference.
  • The bottom line is even more critical to these organizations than it is to large corporations, and I feel like I bring good value to the table
  • While it’s true that doing work for larger companies can offer more financial stability, smaller organizations offer a great deal of project diversity. I like working with a church one week and a whitewater rafting business the next week and a jewelry affiliate site the week after that. I get to learn about a lot of new industries, products, and services along the way.

7 Crucial Web Content Development Questions

Posted by Robin on Jul 8th, 2008

When I work with a client to determine the best strategy for web content development, I spend a lot of time researching the client’s industry, competition, and associated search terms, as well as gaining a deep understanding of the target audience and goals. Once all of that preliminary work is in place, it becomes a matter of creative idea generation and, of course, the copywriting itself.

If you’re developing a content plan on your own and aren’t sure what your website needs, here are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my current goals for my website? (To increase traffic, to increase conversions, to reach out to a new consumer market, etc.)
  • What are my competitors doing? How can I do better?
  • What do my customers want? (Ask them for feedback.)
  • What is unique about my product or service?
  • What keywords or phrases will help people find my products? Do I appear in the search engine results for those keywords?
  • Who is my target audience? Do I need different copy for different audience segments?
  • Does any of my current content need reworking?

And, a bonus question:

  • If I meet my goals (say, traffic and conversions increase significantly) what changes, if any, will I need to make to my way of doing business?

I raise this last question because recently, as a consumer, I visited a custom woodworking site for a specific product. The product was just what I wanted, at a great price…but in looking around the website and trying to order, I discovered that turnaround time for the product had gone from eight days to five weeks. This was enough of a deterrent that instead I found and purchased a similar product from a competitor at a higher price but with a shorter turnaround.

In other words…be prepared for success!