Every business website out there, big or small, is built with only these goals in mind: to generate more leads, traffic, and conversions.
That’s it. It doesn’t really matter if you offer web hosting services, cooking tips, automobile parts or novelty t-shirts, your main objective here is always the same: make your products and services available to anyone who searches for your targeted keywords online.
It’s always about making more sales or reaching out to new faces that could be interested in consuming your content. Be it the former or the later, or even both, at the end of the day, everyone wants to see their efforts pay off. There isn’t a single businessmen in the world who runs a website just because he likes to write content and share his knowledge with the rest of the world. Everyone wants something in return, and that’s quite normal. If you know a person who says he (or she) is not in this game to make money – well, he (or she) is lying to you.
Writing content for the Web is just a part of a bigger picture to spread awareness and get more people interested in what you’re selling.
Having said that, we can agree that everything here revolves around the customer. As online businessmen, it is our job here – nay, obligation – to provide our current and potential customers with the best imaginable experience.
If they’re not fully satisfied with the look and feel of our website, the chances are they’re gonna leave and never come back, without even completing that initial sale that got them to visit our web address in the first place.
The horror, right?
Even though most online businessmen do all sorts of things to stop this scenario from happening, their crooked intent often tends to make things even worse.
Instead of taking the time to analyze and fully understand their potential visitors and buyers so they could learn how to decrease their bounce rates and stimulate growth in conversions, most online businessmen tend to do quite the opposite. They start to push their advertisements (that already aren’t working) even harder on them.
I don’t know about you, but when I shop online, I don’t like to be bombarded with all sorts of different offers and proposals. Especially those that don’t have much to do with what I’m currently looking for. It really annoys me when websites do that. I hate it when an ad pops up and interrupts my action. Apart from that, if I can’t find what I’m looking for in a matter of seconds, I tend to bounce on to the next best website and look there for my desired information.
I wish I could say that this is just me acting weird and impatient, but the truth is – 90% of Internet users are even worse than me. Everyone who makes his bread and butter from what he (or she) sells online knows that running an online business is a pretty brutal game. If you don’t instantly deliver on what people expect from you, your brand will go down faster than a bottle of vodka at a hen party.
So, What Do I Need To Do In Order To Retain People On My Website?
Focus on SEO and user experience, of course.
You need to carefully analyze and put in mind all those things that might positively or negatively affect a person’s experience while using your system or interface. User research, interaction design, information architecture, graphic design, user testing – these are just some of the things that demand your focus.
User experience is basically a science of its own.
Although when talking about user experience, most people usually refer to design, and the general functionality of a certain website or system, they constantly forget to mention that content plays an equally important role in this equation.
I would like to focus on that in this article.
Everyone who owns an online business can tell you that you have only a couple of seconds to win over a customer. Even though design is the first thing an average person will notice when landing on your site, it’s certainly not the thing that will shape his or her opinion of your brand. No, your content will. If he gets the information that he (or she) is looking for, 8 times out of 10, he’ll be willing to ignore your bad design and complicated interface.
Don’t believe me? Just look at Reddit. This has to be one of the ugliest and most complicated websites ever (for a newbie), and yet, it has over 36 million registered users. In case you didn’t know, Reddit’s stats are insane. According to the numbers from the first quarter of this year, Reddit counts 231 million unique visits per month.
Wanna know how?
By understanding their users. Everyone who often visits this site is there because Reddit guarantees great content. Reddit is basically a social news site with an insanely big base of users who are interested in digesting relevant, entertaining and exciting information, without being bombarded by all sorts of different advertisements and terrible sales pitches.
I get that. I hate it when sites interrupt my action and try to drown me with idiotic advertisements. As a person who came to a certain web address looking for information that was promised to me in SERP, it really annoys when the publisher tries to pressure me into buying his nonsense before delivering on what was promised to me.
Reddit is not like that. On Reddit, content is truly king. The guys behind this site know that. That’s why they’ve implemented a voting system for topics. Each post on Reddit can either be “upvoted” or “downvoted” by its users. The people decide what is relevant and what should be displayed on the homepage. This helps them instantly see which topic are generating a lot of traffic, and which are not.
So, How Do I Write Content That Will Stimulate My Users To Stick Around?
As we established in the section above, if you want to make your content truly work for you and your website, you need come up with a smart content strategy. You need a plan that is actually backed by real numbers and rock-solid insights.
When I write content for my website that is meant to enhance my user’s experience, I always make sure that I:
1. Create User-Centric Content
Even though content and SEO mix well together like scotch and soda, and without at least some SEO your content will surely crash and burn faster than a chimp driving a space shuttle, you shouldn’t really create it just to please the search engines. The Internet is still all about the people. As I already wrote on this site, creating content for the searcher should be the foundation of every sane content strategy.
In order to come up with a successful customer-centric content strategy, you must focus on all sorts of different things. You have to be patient and gather all the smart data before you decide to start working on your customer personas. These carefully tailored archetypes enable us to create intelligent messages that directly speak to our ideal customers (site visitors) pain points and needs. This will, of course, later on help us increase sales and traffic, not by tricking our audience, but by offering them valuable content that they can truly enjoy.
Designing these precise psychological profiles is not such an easy task. Luckily for you, the guys at FindMyHost wrote an amazing three piece series on this particular subject. Their content will surely help you understand what you need to do in order to feed your site visitors with what they want to read.
2. Keep It Real – Deliver On Your Promises, Put Value Above Everything Else
As a person who basically lives on and from the Internet, I can honestly tell you that there’s nothing worse than failing to deliver on your promises. People hate that! If you, for example, write a post and call it an “ultimate guide to content marketing”, make sure that you made it worthy of the title it carries. The word “ultimate” is not something people will take likely around here. If your post doesn’t live up to its headline, there will be consequences.
If you, like we, promise your users 99% Network Uptime, you have to do your best to keep your word.
Sure, mistakes happen. If you really try and fail, no one will hate you for it. Sometimes stuff just happens and you cannot do anything to prevent a certain error. If your intent is pure, you won’t be punished for your mistakes. But if it isn’t – well, you’re doomed.
The Internet isn’t really a forgiving place. If you try to cheat your way to success, sooner or later, people will call you on your BS. Generating bad reviews or bad word of mouth on the Internet is the same as receiving a death sentence is the real world. No one will want to click on your links or work with you if people flag you as a bad source. That is why your content needs to deliver real insights, real values, real benefits, and not just something that sounds cool, but actually says nothing.
If your content actually helps people understand and solve their issues, you won’t need to do anything else in order to make them revisit your website.
3. Focus On Navigation And Content Formatting
The way on how your content is displayed on your pages is something that could really make or break your website. Next to quality and basic SEO, this has to be the most important thing that you need to take care of if you want your words to communicate well with your website visitors.
It doesn’t matter how good or intelligent your content may be, if your readers experience difficulty while reading it, you won’t generate any new conversions. If people have to squint their eyes in order to actually see what’s going on your page, then you have a problem. That’s why it’s highly advisable to focus on your content layout before you decide to publish it. You don’t want to make your letters too big or too small so that your readers have to adjust their screen to successfully digest your information.
Chunky paragraphs, deficit of headlines and subheadlines, wrongfully placed and optimized images, lack of meta tags and meta descriptions – these are just some of the minor things that have been known to drastically increase your bounce rates and drive people away.
Having this in mind, I always go through my SEO checklist and heatmaps before I publish a fresh piece of content. It is quite important for me to better understand my user’s intent and preferences, so I could tailor my content to their wishes and needs. By tracking my user’s behavior on my website and following where my messages are catching their attention, I can drastically increase my conversions rates just by tweaking some part of my page content. I have personally seen jumps of 100% in A/B testing just by deleting some text boxes in a form. Amazing, right?
Thank you for taking the time to read my latest article. If you have anything to ask or add, feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section below.
That’s it for now,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.