Four bad approaches to creating content for your small business website and how to stop

It’s the year of content. Or so say the web marketing experts. We’ve always worked with our clients to create as much quality content on their sites as they can (yes, we know you’ve got families and are running businesses and don’t always have a spare half hour to write a blog post!).

Why is content important? Two reasons: Search engines and establishing expertise with potential clients.

Google loves to see unique content and its software is advanced enough to be able to tell if your content is “borrowed” or used from another source, how well written it is and how relevant the information is to your business. That means you’ve got to produce high-quality content that is only published on your site in order to rank above your competitors in web searches.

Just as importantly, good content tells potential customers that not only are you an expert, but you care about educating and sharing. Will a visitor to your site read 50 blog posts about your business? Probably not. But he or she will pick a couple to get a flavor for what you do, and scan headlines of the rest. The impression you’ll leave is that you know what you’re doing.

We’ve found that there are roughly four types of bad approaches that our clients and potential clients have to creating web content. Do you see yourself in one of these profiles?

THE BAREBONES ADVOCATE. “I don’t really want to spend a lot of energy on the website. I just need some sort of web presence so people can find me,” says the Barebones Advocate. His website consists of a home page with a photo and single paragraph of text – maybe an “about us” and “contact us” page as well.

The problem is that you’ll need to have more than a three-page website to get a high quality score in Google. Think about it this way: The more pages your site has, the more opportunities Google has to match up a search request with your site. That doesn’t mean that quantity of pages is everything, though – those pages still need to have the good-quality content we’ve talked about.

Sometimes the Barebones Advocate simply doesn’t want to share too much (maybe competitors will learn too much about the business! oh no!) and sometimes he’s just not focused on or aware of the need to have more worthwhile content on his website.

How to Overcome: Start slowly and add content to your site. You may have to reconsider the goals for your site. The “build it and they will come” ideal is no longer a reality – you must identify areas where you can use your site to appeal to your potential customers and bring in leads. Don’t worry about giving away too much information to the competition – the way you do business and treat customers is the key to how successful you’ll be, not whether your competition learns about and starts to copy one of your business practices.

THE EXCESSIVE SHARER. This business owner or manager tells the world everything about his or her business – maybe too much! While this is usually a problem when it comes to social media tools like Facebook or Twitter, a business blog can get weighed down with too much not-relevant info.

Sure, we’ve seen people do a good job integrating their lives and jobs – branding themselves as a well-rounded person and sharing some personal stuff with their customers. Nothing wrong with connecting with your customers as a human being – but the Excessive Sharer is just over-communicating and potentially driving people away. It’s OK to have 50 blog posts about the new products your business is carrying. It’s probably not OK to have 50 blog posts about your mother-in-law’s upcoming surgery, your latest vacation plans or how potty-training your little one is going. Save that for your personal blog or Facebook account.

How to Overcome: Make a list of business topics and stick solely to those. Don’t lose your personal touch, but work on making it more professional. You want to educate and inform the people coming to your site, not distract them from doing business with you or even drive them away. When in doubt, ask a trusted employee or business mentor to assess the appropriateness of your topics.

THE QUITTER. This one hits a bit close to home! You start out with the best of intentions, but then real life gets in the way. Your plan to blog three times a week and post a couple times a day to your social media accounts gets pushed to the back burner in favor of all the other things that a small business owner has to do every day. So you have three weeks of regular blog posts and new articles and then… nothing. Your site hasn’t been updated in several months!

How to Overcome: There are probably a lot of things you want to do besides add content to your website. You either need to buckle down, create a schedule for writing/recording new content and learn about tools that can help you manage the content creation process. Either that, or hire your favorite content creation/internet marketing company (like us! hint, hint) to help you.

THE SEO OBSESSER. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the art and science of improving your ranking on a page of relevant Google or Bing results. But some people take this a little too far. Ever read a blog post or marketing copy that is just a bit too packed with keywords? (“Our fantastic high-speed blender will blend anything you need to have blended. With superior blending power, the B351 Blender from Our Company is a blending phenomenon.”) The SEO Obsessor has an admirable goal but is going about it the wrong way.

There needs to be a better balance between appealing to the search engines and appealing to real, live humans. Your SEO-focused content is not so fun to read, and search engine software is actually getting good at identifying this type of copy and giving it lower quality scores, which defeats your purpose.

How to Overcome: Stop writing and creating for search engines. Instead, make what real people want to read your sole goal. If you are writing for your customers, you’re going to naturally include keywords and phrases in your content. Talk about solving problems, industry news, best practices, satisfied customers – but write like you’re sending an email to a friend. Aim to not repeat the same major keyword or phrase more than a handful of times (no more than once a paragraph is a good rule of thumb!).

If you think you may fit into one – or more – of these categories, it’s a good time to reassess what your goals are, and maybe talk to a trusted outside source for input. Content is more and more important, and you don’t want to throw away time and energy creating what doesn’t work. Need a trusted opinion? Give us a call at 541-752-9922 for a free website evaluation, which includes advice on your content.

What do you think?

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