Web Content Gone Wrong: Rehabilitate Your Site, Stat!


Probably the biggest component of my job as a professional writer is blogging for business.  Given how popular the blog is these days when it comes to attracting clients and building thesales funnel, it’s not surprising that when most people call upon a professional content marketer, they’re looking for a way to make their blog shine.

However, there is also another component to content marketing that is all-too-often overlooked – website content.  To define, website content is the static wordage on your site.  Your “about us page,” your “product page” and your “home page” are generally going to be full of static content that won’t update nearly as much as say, a blog or an article bank.

Having web content that counts is incredibly important when it comes to making a watertight content strategy.  Consider your blog the way that you interact with people at a cocktail party: it’s timely; it’s always lively; it charms, entertains, and impresses on a regular basis. Your web content, on the other hand, is like your home.  If your blog is good enough, oftentimes interested readers will click through to your site to see what your business looks like on the home front.

…and if your business’ content is a mess, it’s going to send those curious lookers right back out again.  Your website content needs to work alongside your blog so that when the blog impresses, your home content also shines.  If you’d like to read a little more in depth about what to do when it comes to making your web content count, check out the first installment of my content primer here: Content Primer #1: Static Site Content – Like a Little Black Dress.

When you’re back, know that this particular blog is about something more insidious – namely, what not to do with your web content.  As much as it’s good to know the rules, it’s also good to know the no-nos.  There are several ways that web content can flop, and I’m here to make sure that your site doesn’t turn into an episode of Good Websites Gone Bad.

Beware of Keywords.

Coming up with a competent keyword strategy is a very good way to get the search engines to pay attention to a website.  Virtually everybody with three cents and a domain understands that keywords are a part of an overall SEO strategy. But the trouble is that many people don’t understand how to use keywords properly, and the improper use of keywords not only turns off clients, but also could damage your website in the eyes of the search engines.

The proper use of keywords in blogs and site content is actually far more complex than just shoving as many keywords into your content as possible.  I’ve written at length about the evils of keyword stuffing – the practice of pushing so many keywords phrases into content that it becomes unreadable.

Really, the entire goal of keywords is to write them in such a way that they do not become the main feature of the text.  Essentially, if your reader can sit back and pick out the keywords from your text, you’re probably using too many of them.

If you really have no idea where to start, I highly, highly recommend checking out this mind-blowing post from SEOmoz about Perfecting Keyword Targeting & On-Page Optimization.  It’s a bit of an old post and a bit of a read, but it’s so incredibly relevant to the proper use of keywords I could jump up and down and write a haiku about it.  If you’ll notice, even back in 2009, on-page keyword usage only accounted for about 15% of Google’s algorithm.

Once you’ve read the original post, skip over to SEOmoz’s 2011 rendition of the same thing.  Keyword use dropped to 11% of the algorithm.

This isn’t meant to say that keywords are entirely useless when it comes to optimizing your web content.  In fact, keywords do indeed matter, but the important thing to remember is that they should be used organically.  If you’re sitting around thinking how to work the word “widget” into your writing, you’re using keywords improperly.

Don’t fall into the trap of “the more I repeat word X, the more attention Google will pay to me.”  It isn’t true.  Google has come out and said that keyword stuffing is bad, and it will penalize sites that do it.

So, yes, use keywords.  But be natural about it, man!

Grammar, please.

Of course, this seems obvious, but it’s actually something that really needs to be paid attention to.  Bad grammar makes the writer look uneducated at worst and untrustworthy at best.  After all, if you can’t take the time to know the difference between “affect” and “effect,” how detail-oriented will you be with the customer?

To be honest, I’d say that the occasional grammar or spelling error is forgivable in a blog.  Mostly because, well, blogs are constantly updated and while they should be proofread, sometimes mistakes happen.  It’s the internet.

But your web content?  Your static web content is static, and you really should take the time to go through it with a fine-toothed comb and make sure that the wordage that stays on your page is completely and 100% grammatically correct.  It’s worth it to pay an outside pair of eyes to go over it if you can.

For those who might want to learn a little more about grammar, you should definitely check out Grammar Girl. It’s a wonderful website that’s chock full of grammar tips and explanations which are presented in a consumable format.  If I might toot my own horn a little more, I have a post called 37 Grammar Rules You Ain’t Got which can get you started.

Don’t be bland.

I do seem to be referencing myself a lot in this post, but as I’ve said before bland is bad.  Since web content is pretty uniform across the board – I mean, most companies have an “about us” page, right? – lots of people fall into a rut when it comes to explaining the same stuff that is always explained.

Make sure that your web content has something unique to say.  Yes, an “about us” page isn’t unique in its own right, but your company is, isn’t it?  What differentiates your company from the myriad of other companies that are selling the same thing?

It’s important to take time and distill your own company’s uniqueness before tackling site content.  Spend some time with yourself and figure out your company’s voice.  Are you small and scrappy?  Dignified?  Innovative?

When you figure out how your company talks, you’ll have a much easier time making things unique.  A good way to do this is to sit down with a voice document and answer questions.  If your company was a car, what would it drive?  If it went out to dinner, what would it eat?  If it went on a date, where would it go?

These questions might seem entirely fanciful, but remember that it’s important for your company to “speak” through your web content.  Since your online customers can’t meet the business owner and employees directly as they might in a brick-and-mortar store, the web content is going to speak for you.  If you could say anything to the client, what would you say?

There are many ways that website content can go wrong, and most of the time it’s more due to an oversight rather than an outright desire to make good websites go bad.  If you pay a little more attention to your static web content, it’ll come back to you in spades – I promise!

What tips do you have to make your static web content shine?

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Laura

Laura Hancock is a co-owner of ContentEqualsMoney.com. She has also been a long time writer for us. She writes with a passion for accuracy and flow. While her administrative duties have grown, she is a still a big piece of our content writing services team! Currently pursuing a certification in Technical Writing at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle. +Laura Hancock

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