6 steps to Killer Web Content 3

A small percentage of web content really makes a difference. It makes the sale, delivers the service, and builds the brand. This is the killer Web content. It probably represents less than 10% of content published on the Web, because – let’s face it – most content just gets in the way.

That’s the introductory paragraph to my book, Killer Web Content, that I published two years ago. It’s still very relevant today – in some ways more than others. I’m finding that many organizations are realising what a huge mess their websites – particularly their intranets – have become.

I’m working with large organizations that are already implementing plans to delete at least 50% of the content on their websites. This “filler” content was published without any clear idea of whether or not it would be truly useful to customers. The Web is bulging with this filler content. It’s clogging up search results and making navigation more difficult.

Most organizations have a greater capacity to publish than they have to review and remove. The result is that over time the website gets bigger and bigger and the amount of old, out-of-date content grows. New, useful content becomes a smaller and smaller proportion of the website.

Okay, so how do we fix the mess? Here are 6 steps:

1. Treat content as an asset, not a cost: Killer web content makes more sales – far more. This is not an opinion. I have seen sales double and treble based due to improvements to the quality of the content. So, treat content as a valuable asset, not some menial chore you give to a junior member of staff. Quality content gets more quality students to enrol in your university. On an intranet, quality content improves employee productivity.

2. Start a potty-training campaign: Too many organizations are doing too many we-wes on their websites. The worst possible web content is that which begins with the name of your organization. Please, they’re at your website;
they know who you are. Even worse is when a sentence begins with a horrible phrase like: “we are delighted to announce …” Nobody cares. Nobody cares that you’re delighted or excited. Cut the waffle and the fluff. Get to the point.

3. Focus on your links: From a brief analysis of the English versions of some Norwegian websites I find the same basic problems occurring with link writing. I’ve worked in 35 countries and poor quality links are the number one problem I find everywhere. Links are the essence of the Web. The link is the one thing that makes the Web so different from print, TV, radio, and all other media. A link is a promise. It’s a signpost. Too often a link promises something you can’t easily find once you get to the page.

4. Focus on search words: A good web writer will always do research on the words their customers use when searching. They will identify the most popular words used and then build the web content from these words.

5. Focus on tasks: Content is not an end unto itself. People come to your website to do things. They’re in a hurry. They want to complete common tasks. If you want a successful website then manage the tasks, not the content or technology.

6. Test, test, test: The very worst way to design a website is to put five smart people in a room and let them brainstorm. The longer you leave them the more ridiculous the website will become. (It might win graphic design prizes but only the most awful websites win those.) The best websites relentlessly test and then improve their top tasks. The worst websites “launch and leave” their websites. The best websites focus on continuous improvement of the customer’s top tasks.