As a web-based copywriter, I’m asked to do a lot of “website content.”
What does this mean?
In a very non-specific nutshell, most people refer to website content (or “web copy” or “webpage content”) as the text that lives on the pages of a website. It’s the headers, the paragraphs, and any other words that exist on the page.
The line between static and non-static web content is incredibly blurry, but in general, when someone says, “I’m building a new website and I need someone to write all the content for it,” they’re referring to the copy that is intended to stay up long-term.
(Well, as “long term” as anything is on the web these days.)
Blogs and social media content, while technically “web content,” are nebulous and they’re usually considered separate from the base content a website is built around.
Elements like the Home Page, the About Us page, the Services page? They’re web content.
Who Needs New Web Content?
My clients run the gamut. For the most part, the people who come to me looking for new or updated web content are either developers, designers, SEOs, or even website owners themselves.
When do they request new content for their site(s)?
- Before building out an entirely new website
- After a site has been designed or built, but before it is “live”
- When a site isn’t converting or has a very high bounce rate
- When it has been several years since a site’s content has been updated
- Before or after a significant change in the business or in the layout of the website
But…Why All New Content?
Fresh web copy accomplishes myriad goals. When done correctly, it helps reinforce branding. The amalgam of content on a website – in this case referring to the text, images, video, design, and other elements of a site taken together – should create a cohesive experience for the visitor.
If it doesn’t, something’s broken.
When web content deviates from a company’s intended brand strategy, everything goes off the rails. Customers become skeptical. Search engines get confused. Calls stop coming in.
Web copy is the foundation of your business’ online representation. It’s important.
In addition to being a powerful (and all-too-often-overlooked) branding tool, sharp content also helps move web visitors down the purchasing funnel. Even if your website isn’t overtly transactional, content is one of the major elements that incentivizes consumers to continue to engage with your brand.
Content is part of your call-to-action.
A new or updated website with old, clunky copy is like a brand new house full of IKEA furniture you bought in college. There’s nothing inherently wrong with IKEA furniture, of course, but you’ve spent a lot of time and effort investing in a shiny new website. Populating it with the same stale content as before is selling yourself short.
Odds are, since the last time your website changed, your business changed too. Your buyer personas have probably shifted a bit and you may have crystallized your unique value proposition (UVP).
If your business isn’t the same, why should the way you talk about it be the same?
Webpage Content Directly Impacts SEO Rankings
Also consider that creating compelling, user-friendly web content is only half the battle, give or take.
The copy on your site is the most powerful SEO tool you have in your arsenal, and it’s not something you can “set and forget.”
All the content on your website should be optimized for maximum SEO value, and that’s impossible to do as a long-term proposition. Even if you had a website content refresh three years ago, the SEO game has changed.
What worked then doesn’t necessarily work today.
Does that mean you should churn out new website copy stuffed full of keywords and overt ranking signals? Absolutely not. Search engines are savvy. They expect a lot from the content on your site.
First-and-foremost, search engines want your content to say what it’s supposed to say. Do your meta descriptions match up to the content on the page? What about your H1s?
Next, search engines expect you to provide value for web users. That value can be informational – an eBook explaining the nuances of your process – or it can be immediate – directions and contact info for your store.
Search engines also want your help. They expect your copy to give them an indication of how and when to rank your site. Is your content doing enough to signal to search engines which keywords matter to your clients? Where those clients live? Which industry you’re in and where your specialties lie?
Great web content is always a balancing act between pleasing the search engines and pleasing the web user, but if you have to make a choice, always err on the side of the web user.
Search engines will forgive myriad content sins if what’s on your page is still pleasing web users.
What’s the Process for Creating Web Content?
Creating content (or refreshing content) for any website always starts with a thorough evaluation of the site’s existing copy, if there’s any to evaluate.
The Content Audit
This is sometimes called a “Content Audit” and it can be as complicated and technical as you make it. For large websites with hundreds of pages, a Content Audit is best performed by an SEO or other technically-adept individual.
Here’s a good write-up from Single Grain on what a super in-depth, granular content audit might look like.
For smaller and/or less complicated sites, a Content Audit can be performed manually by the website owner or, preferably, someone external like a web content specialist.
Your goal is to end up with a list of all the pages on your site with columns for the URLs, the status of the content (leave as-is; replace; write new), who is responsible for the content, and whether or not the work has been done. Everyone’s metrics are different.
In its simplest iteration, a big ol’ list is what every Content Audit produces in the end.
Writing, Revising, and Adding Web Content
From there, you’ll either tackle the copywriting yourself, creating new content for pages that need it and revising old content where applicable, or you’ll work with someone who does so professionally.
For a lot of companies, the objective eye of a web content specialist is an invaluable tool for producing the kind of content that resonates with visitors and informs search engines.
Another reason to consider working with an outside content professional? It makes life a lot easier for your developer. When you present a web designer with a comprehensive package of well-organized, web-friendly content, it’s much easier for them to bring your new site into existence.
This saves web developers time and therefore saves you money.
Content in-hand, your developer will start to populate the pages of your new site. For most websites, there are always a few rounds of back-and-forth between the developer and the content specialist (and any other cooks in the kitchen) to hammer out any unforeseen issues.
What kind of issues? Paragraphs of content that are a bit too long, for example. A page that needs three H2s instead of four. Content for a new page added at the last minute.
Content development and web development go hand-in-hand. The process of doing one correctly invariably involves the other.
I’m a Web Content Specialist
You’ve spent so much time browsing themes and arguing over color palettes…shouldn’t you give the text on your website that same level of attention?
Content is a foundational component of your website, not an afterthought.
Not sure whether your website needs all-new content or just a content refresh? Know you need web content but unsure where to start?
I’m happy to help. Web content is what I do best.