It is only one part of a success story when your marketing and SEO strategy succeeds and a user comes to your website – the user needs to stay there and hopefully become a customer or a regular visitor. A good visual design certainly helps to create a positive first impression, but only providing the information the user needs, written in a way the user understands and can relate to will make the user stay. Providing relevant content is often harder than it is assumed to be, because it requires understanding the users (often several distinct types of them) and their needs. And it is more important than many realise – with the competitor websites potentially just one browser tab away (page parking – opening many websites for consideration before visiting them – is not uncommon nowadays), users have little motivation to put much effort in searching or interpreting the content; sometimes having a look elsewhere means not coming back.
Think of what users need, not what you would like to say
Web users are generally very task oriented and go to websites only to achieve particular goals, thus they are unwilling to spend time trying to find what they need among the things they do not need. A successful web page should provide an adequate amount of relevant information (so there is no need to look elsewhere) in a way that is free from irrelevant and distracting content – users should gain something in compensation for the time spend reading each line. Things you would love to say to your visitors, such as “Thank you for visiting our new website” or some extra content to have more keywords just increase the time and effort required to find the information users need, more time and effort means a higher risks of abandonment.
There is no one size fits all solution
There is no such a thing as just good content, different users have different needs and expectations. For example, using highly technical or financial terminology would create an impression that you are competent in your field and make it easier for the users who know the terminology, however, it would turn away the users who are less knowledgeable in the field. Besides understanding the content, users need be able to relate to it and see it as useful in their situation – for instance, quite often focusing on the benefits a product provides works better than a listing of the features, since it helps users understand in what way it is useful to them, however, the users who need a combination of particular features would not benefit from it.
Sometimes it is worth dividing the content by user needs or knowledge level, for example having separate “General information” and “Technical details” tabs, so users can effortlessly find the type of information they need. Writing content that is tailored for user needs, especially when there are more than one type of them, requires a combination of knowledge about the users, empathy and creativity.
Know your users and give them relevant content
A good tool is user personas (realistic representations of key segments of the target audience), copywriters should always refer to them and write content to them instead of writing to users like themselves. Good personas are based on actual data, thus methods like customer surveys and interviews are needed to obtain it. And, of course, user testing is important – quite often it focuses on the first impression, navigation, speed of task completion, not on the quality, relevance and effectiveness of the copy. Just one caveat – quality of the content can only be tested by highly representative users that are part of your target, only them can tell you what works well and what does not.
All that looks like a lot of effort, but users come to your website for content, thus providing it right and having less fluff, but more expertise than the competitors would help in increasing the conversion rate.
Good and relevant book in this context (even though it does not pay enough attention to the SEO aspects): J.Redish – Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works