It’s often said that content is king. So why then do most businesses online presence fail precisely because they treat their content like the king’s poor idiot cousin?
Here are some thoughts why:
It’s an afterthought
A disproportionate amount of time gets spent on the design and function of a website instead of thinking through content requirements, site structure and navigation. Often it is only after a website/blog/social media profile is setup that creating content even enters into the equation. If design is what gets the audiences attention, it’s the content that makes them stick. Content and the related issues such as information architecture, site structure and functionality all need to be addressed early.
It’s created for marketing (not people)
While websites in and of themselves are a marketing tool, content needs to be aligned to user objectives. In short, stop thinking about content in terms of marketing and promotion but more informing and entertaining. The old saying people use the web to save time or waste time applies here.
It’s not optimised for the web
The web is not like any other environment (it’s save time or waste time, again) and you need to respect that. Think about all the good stuff like SEO, headlines, tags, links and appropriate writing for the web when you start preparing content. Whether you’re outsourcing your copywriting or doing it yourself, make sure you check out some of great resources on the web, such as Website Criteria and SEOmoz.
It’s too brief
While web content shouldn’t be vast, sprawling amounts of text, it also shouldn’t be too short. It seems like the conversational aspect of social media has almost become an excuse for content to be vague. Understanding your audience is key to giving them the information they need quickly and succinctly without having to navigate a plethora of pages.
It can’t be found and shared
Build it and they will come is definitely not how it works. If a wicked funny video gets created and no one watches does it really exist? With so much content floating around the webs, you need to give yours the best chance of not only being found but also being shared by your most loyal customers. Think SEO and SSO (Social Search Optimisation), RSS, platforms and basic sharing/interactive functionality.
No one is responsible
Someone in your organisation whether it’s big or small needs to be responsible for maintaining content whether it’s on your website, Facebook page or blog. Stuff goes out of date really fast on the web and you need to keep feeding it with interesting, relevant content otherwise your audience will simply stop paying attention and go elsewhere. Particularly in social media, there is so much else to do that it’s critical that you give your audience compelling reasons why they should follow you. Besides, nothing looks worse than a long forgotten Facebook page riddled with unanswered questions and spammy comments.
These are just some of my views. What do you think? What other common web content mistakes have you seen?
If you’re keen to find out more, Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web is a great place to start.