By Nick James, Fresh Business Thinking

Having good content on your website is important for two reasons.

1. It can help attract visitors via search engines

2. It keeps visitors interested and engaged

We might never understand the search engine algorithms – and if we ever do then they could change overnight – but what we should absolutely understand is what visitors to our website want to read, watch, listen to and see.

As consumers we don’t watch television for the commercial breaks nor do we buy magazines for the adverts. It’s the content, the films, dramas, soaps, reality programmes, game-shows and sport programmes that interests us on TV and it’s the articles, stories and pictures that gets us buying newspapers and magazines.

Website content can come from many places but usually you either have to write it yourself (or pay for someone to write it for you) or encourage and rely on user-generated-content.

User-generated-content is best explained by Wikipedia (itself a portal that relies on user-generated-content) but in essence it is content, in the main video or text, that has been filmed or written by someone other than the website owner.

Video sharing site YouTube is the most well known User-generated-content site where almost everything is filmed and uploaded by ‘amateurs’ and viewers are then allowed to add comment to the films.

Although at first glance user-generated-content might seem like an easy option it is not always straight forward. Using the analogy of a restaurant;

– Word of mouth can make or kill a restaurant – you can’t stop diners giving you bad reviews and the same goes for website visitors. Even if you monitor and/or censor your site content any bad feeling can leak out via social media sites.

– There’s something almost sad about an empty restaurant and a website forum with outdated posts or comments sends out similar messages.

User-generated-content is great when it works but it takes a lot of thought and hard work to keep up the momentum and to ensure that the tone and messages are ‘on brand’ and add value to your site.

There’s a surreal circularity about writing an article for a website about writing articles for websites and I’d like to end with a quote from Kristina Halvorson, Author of ‘Content Strategy for the Web’ who said: “The moment you launch a website, an email campaign a mobile application or content of any kind you’re a publisher, shouldn’t you start acting as one?”

Content is why people visit your website and you need to act and behave more like a publisher trying to attract and engage with your audience than a marketing person trying to sell product.

Nick James will be speaking at The Online Business Makeover at Microsoft HQ London on 12th March 2012. To find out more about top content for search engines and actual readers, as well as how to use social media to boost your online presence, book your discounted early bird ticket today!

Special pre-launch offer until 5pm TODAY (19th Jan 2012) only – 2 tickets for £99+VAT! (Usual price £299+VAT per person) Don’t miss this very special offer – BOOK NOW!

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The Digital Marketing Show Content Masterclass will offer deep insight and solutions that will enable attendees to understand how the world of content can help deliver their marketing objectives. This one day intensive masterclass will provide you with all the knowledge necessary to confidently implement a new content strategy for your business.

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Digital Marketing Show Content Masterlcass, 2nd May, Ravensbourne College, London.