“Content” is a useful all-purpose term for any material you publish on the Web. It might be text, but it could be photos, audio, or video. You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a writer, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the kind of content I create for my clients is primarily text.
Multimedia—also known as rich media—is a great thing. But text is important for a lot of users. For one thing, search engines still like text better than any other format. When you upload a photo, video, or audio file, you need to add “tags” to it—words the search engines can use to locate and categorize that file. For another, text is the most accessible format, the one that assistive devices for the disabled know how to handle. Text is also better for people who use their mobile devices to connect to the Internet.
Why You Shouldn’t Write Your Web Content Yourself
It’s possible, of course, that you’re a great copywriter in addition to being a successful business owner. And who knows your business better than you do? But there are some reasons why it’s good to get help filling up the pages on that gorgeous new website you just had designed.
If you do it yourself, it won’t get done on time. You’ve heard the expression “The cobbler’s children have no shoes”? Well, it’s true. No one is paying you to write the copy for your website, so you put the project aside every time you have work to do for a paying client. So do I, or this website would have been finished a long time ago.
Copy you write yourself may suffer from “I disease.” You know your company so well that every page is an “About Us” page. What you need to write about is your customer.
It’s not worth the cost. Remember the law of comparative advantage: you should delegate any job that can be done at a wage less than you earn or than you desire to earn. How many billable hours are you giving up if you write your own website copy? (And if you delegate it to your administrative assistant, who’s going to do her job?)
What Kind of Content Do You Write?
There are so many ways to publish online that I’ve probably left something out, so if you need a certain type of web content and don’t see it, just ask. One note, however: I won’t operate your Twitter account.
This is the kind of text that goes on your main website and doesn’t change very often—like the material that’s on this page. A typical small-business website has a home page, an “About” page, a “Contact” page, and pages for products or services. Larger companies have more extensive product pages, as well as tech support, customer service, and so on. The main website may be populated by a combination of static (unchanging, or rarely-changing) and dynamic (frequently changing, automatically updated) content.
Before you hire someone to write articles to post to sites like [email protected], check their policies to be sure that ghostwritten articles are permitted. That caveat aside, articles published on your own website can be helpful to visitors and garner you “Google juice.” You can use longer articles as the enticement for people to provide you with their contact information on a “name squeeze” landing page.
I prefer to keep my ghost blogging activities to writing for blogs where the content, not the individual writing it, is important. Whether or not it’s reasonable, people expect a higher level of transparency online than offline. If they find out that your supposedly very personal blog was written by someone else, it could damage your credibility permanently.
A landing page is a web page designed to get visitors to take a single action. It’s called a “landing page” because people get there from somewhere else, like a Google ad or a link in an e-mail marketing message. Both design and writing have to focus tightly on the goal of the page, whether it’s clicking a “buy” button or filling out contact information in exchange for a freebie like a white paper.
Social Networking Profiles
I won’t answer your LinkedIn questions or send out your tweets on Twitter, but I can help you write better profiles for your social networks—the kind that make people want to check out your website, read your blog, or even pass along a job opening.
A good text description of your video or audio file (with or without time codes) helps people decide whether to watch or listen. I subcontract complete transcriptions, however.