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    How important is content for your website?

    by Billy Sunderland Partnership Executive

    In the media, “content” is basically anything that people consume, i.e. news, video, images, music, podcasts, audiobooks, interactive media, stories etc. That’s also true in the narrower field of websites. Obviously a website with no content would just be a blank page, but when people in the online world talk about content, they usually mean the written word – also known as copy – just like what you’re reading now.

    So, does your website need copy? Even if it’s mainly graphical, video or product based? The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s look at why that is.

    You might have done an image search on Google, or even had your photos in your phone arranged into categories (beach, party, food etc.) or even people thanks to facial recognition. You can even get Google to look for “similar images” to one you’re looking at, and its algorithm will find images with related subjects or colour schemes. It certainly is remarkable technology (and it’s getting better thanks to machine learning), but it’s still a pretty blunt tool, with plenty of false positives.

    In comparison, searching for a word or phrase, whether it’s on your Microsoft Word document or the internet, is simple, with a very high positive rate. Whether you’re talking to Siri, Alexa or Cortana, or typing a query into a search engine, it’s words that you’re using. That should give you a clue about where we’re going next. Copy on your website is how you can train the search engines to accurately determine what your website is about, and guide customers to your door who have never even heard of you.

    It’s not just any old copy you need, however. Your copy must be optimised so that search engines can send customers not just to your website, but to the exact page. You’ve probably noticed that when you search for a product online, you don’t get sent to Amazon’s home page to use its menu – you go straight to the product. And since there are competing businesses selling through Amazon itself, there’s a good chance that the copy will have played a part in the ranking of the search results. Outside of Amazon, of course, you’re competing with your own rivals, and content is one of the ways the search engines will decide how relevant your page is to the searcher’s query.

    Talk to an SEO specialist about how to get your site noticed and they’ll start with content – and lots of it. You’ll need general copy about your business, category pages for your product types and product copy for the individual pages. And then you’ll need FAQ pages, a blog, contact information, an “about” page and so on – it all builds up a picture about what it is you do and the individual products and services on offer.

    There is of course another reason to provide content on your site, and if you’ve got this far down, you’ve proved it – people actually do read things on websites. Whether they’re looking to expand their knowledge on a weighty subject, learn more about a product, or just catch up with some celebrity tittle-tattle, it all helps keep eyes on your site (and not your competitors’) and might even bring in a few links, which will also help with SEO.

    So that’s why your site needs plenty of good quality, optimised content on every page. It might be an informative site telling people about your organisation, or an eCommerce site selling products around the world. Either way, without the right kind of content, you’re making it harder for customers to find, understand and enjoy what you have on offer. That makes it a sound investment in anyone’s book.