One bit of advice you'll read over and over about business websites is that “content is king". Whether this is true or not is debatable, but most marketing and web advisors agree that content is very important. Great! But how do you get this fabulous, important content that surfers are looking for?
Most businesses assume that they can create it in-house. Not a bad idea. After all, they would be writing about their own subject. That shouldn't be so hard. Should it? Well, very few of us are natural writers; able to turn any subject into scintillating prose that our public will eat up. Even for those who are able to do this, do they- do you-have the time? And what's your time worth?
Quality content is expensive to create. For your website to be a useful marketing or sales tool, the cost of delivering clients must be low enough to make it profitable. A difficult balancing act.
There are a variety of ways you can “develop" content for your website, which don't include huge expenditures of time or cash, including the following:
COMPILE and CONDENSE In general, people prefer to read short, sharp copy on the web. (Articles like this one are one of the exceptions. :-) ) If you have content in other formats, summarise it. It's far cheaper than creating content from scratch.
Also, you can summarise content from other web sites or print media. It's true. Under copyright law, you CAN use other people's material, using the principle of “fair use". To see how to do this, read the newspaper and trade magazines. They often are ‘reporting’ on someone else's information. You take some of the material you want to use directly as quotes, and write your own commentary around it.
CASE STUDIES For a company whose business is problem solving, case studies can provide tonnes of interesting content. Writing up a case study is quite simple. Do it in three parts. 1. The situation the client faced. 2. The solution you proposed and implemented. 3. The results your client received from your solution. There's no need for fancy prose. Just the facts ma'am.
LINKING There is no less expensive content than a link. Some websites gain all of their popularity through their links. In fact, that's all search engines and directories are, just huge collections of links.
You can build a large collection of hard-to-find, specialised links, exclusive to your industry. This will make you a resource for those looking for the websites you link to.
The downside is if someone is coming to your site to search for a particular website, they will soon be leaving your site to visit the link. You need to make the rest of your site intriguing enough to keep these searchers with you.
The best kind are reciprocal links, where you trade links with other websites who attract the same sort of traffic as you are looking for. Think of it as a form of barter. Some advisors tell you not to link to your competitors. I disagree. Your competitors’ websites are the ideal places to exchange links with. (If they have the nerve to. )
To see more about how to find reciprocal links, read my article called a “Quick Guide to Finding Reciprocal Links" at http://www.capstonecomm.com/articleindex.html
STRATEGIC ALLIANCE Does your site need a substantial amount of new content on a regular basis? Content that you don't already create. If so, the ideal solution may be to form an alliance with someone who does produce the right sort of content. (Here, you likely don't want to ally yourself with a competitor. )
A writer might want more exposure on the web, so will allow you to run his articles in exchange for links back to his own website or e-mail. These links would appear in the full bio, which is published along with every article he gives you. Other content producers might need something you produce on a regular basis. That need might be the basis to build the alliance from.
BUY IT! There are many authors on the web selling general content, and willing and able to develop custom content for you. There are also organisations devoted to developing and selling content. These include news feeds, many of which may be appropriate to your needs.
GET YOUR VISITORS TO CREATE IT This can be best of all. There are a number of tools to enable your visitors to generate content: mailing lists, discussion lists, chat rooms, client reviews, etc. (For example, Amazon gets its customers to write online reviews of books they have purchased. )
These tools can be set up to run automatically, but there is a danger to the ‘hands off’ approach. Spammers can pollute your discussion list with their advertising. Chat rooms can degenerate into rude and lewd war zones. Mailing lists can be abused in the same fashion. For these tools to work in your favour, they must be watched on a daily (or even tighter) basis.
There you have it. Six different approaches to creating “King Content". Do you have any other ways of generating content I haven't mentioned? I'd like to hear from you if you do.
Keith Thirgood, Creative Director, Editor Thrive-on-Line http://www.capstonecomm.com Capstone Communications Group Helping businesses get more business through innovative marketing Markham, Ontario, Canada 905-472-2330 Subscribe to Thrive-on-line http://list.capstonecomm.com/mail.cgi?f=list&l=thrive_on_line