Many webmasters choose to focus on keyword targeting, optimizing title tags, and other SEO tactics that aim to capture the attention of search engines and increase rankings. However, with Google getting more proficient at recognizing a site’s value based on the actions of visitors, it is becoming apparent that the real way to heighten notoriety is to make visiting the site an enjoyable and edifying experience.
In summary, you want people to feel compelled to share your content and visit more than one page on the site. The problem is, very few people will be inspired to take such desirable actions if your pages lack information or are not written and formatted in an easy-to-digest fashion.
The above principles may seem obvious to some, and of course most of us (webmasters and writers) strive to implement them much as possible in each new content development endeavor, but what steps can be taken to repair a site that has already been built and authored around the idea of pleasing search engines instead of readers?
Well, the logical course of action would be to devise a site-wide renovation strategy that would facilitate the replacement and/or revision of any content that is not informative and reader-friendly. After all, just because you once had a different, less-effective approach, doesn’t mean you have to remain complacent with less-than-satisfactory results.
Unfortunately, renovating an entire website and replacing or revising every page can be a time-consuming and confusing process, especially if you don’t have an organized approach. Still, changes can and will be made if you’ll simply take the initiative to follow through with a solid plan, like the one outlined in the 7-step guide below:
1. Assessing and Addressing Notable Content Flaws
You’ll want to start by analyzing the pages of your site in order to answer the following questions:
- “Is the content serving its purpose sufficiently?” – The purpose of your content depends on the aim of the site. As the owner/webmaster you know what the content is supposed to be doing, whether that be encouraging conversions, inspiring visitors to make inquiries, spreading awareness, or just generating more web traffic. If your content is not producing satisfactory results, and you have a high bounce rate, then this could be an indicator that you need to closely examine the other points in this questionnaire.
- “Does the content contain the information visitors are looking for?” – Regardless of your niche, most readers are in search of a specific answer, fact, product, or service, and your content is there to fulfil that want or need as effectively as possible.
- “Is there any unnecessary filler or fluff that increases the word count of the content but decreases the overall value?” – Readers have very little patience to deal with distractions such as excessively wordy introduction paragraphs and run-of-the-mill expressions…“get to the point” (irony intended).
- “Are there any spelling mistakes or grammatical issues?” – If there is one thing that can instantly discredit the authority of a page it is frequent spelling/grammar errors. After all, from a visitor’s perspective they’re basically thinking “If these people can’t even double-check for obvious mistakes why should I trust that the information they’re presenting here is accurate or thoroughly researched?”
- “Is the content engaging and interesting?” – Sometimes a page can have all of the information someone is looking for, it just isn’t presented in way that motivates them to keep reading. If you’re reading through a page and it comes across as boring or generic in any way, this is a clear sign that your readers are probably even more disinterested during their visit.
- “Is the content appropriately interlinked and are there links to external references where necessary?” – Covering every aspect of a topic on a single page is usually not possible without writing 10,000-word essay that few will care to read, which is why it is so important to link out to pages that elaborate and expound upon your points, whether those pages be on your site or an external site. Try to insert applicable links wherever you see areas of the content where the reader may be thinking to themselves “I want to know more about this.”
2. Creating a Checklist of Content Requirements Going Forward
Once you’ve taken the preliminary step of assessing any existing content flaws, it’s time to devise a list of criteria that you’d like every page to meet going forward. This will simplify the challenge of maintaining stringent quality control standards across the entire site. Of course, the above questionnaire provides a basic starting point, but you’ll also want to take your own preferences and goals into consideration, as well as the context of the niche you’re operating in. For example, you’d want the writing style and tone of a corporate finance site to be different than that of an online magazine geared towards college students. Some factors that you may want to cover in the checklist include: preferred writing style (i.e. formal, informal, casual, humorous, etc.), inbound and outbound linking preferences, word count ranges, and formatting requirements.
Speaking of criteria lists, here’s a boatload of checklists to help you improve your content development and distribution efforts.
3. Deciding Which Pages Need Replacement or Revision
Now that you know what is wrong and you have an idea of how to correct it all, it’s time to go through every page on your site and decide which ones really need to be replaced or revised. For organization’s sake it really helps to create a spreadsheet and log the URL of every page into individual rows for convenience and ease of reference. You could then color-code the spreadsheet to keep track of progress. For example, the rows that contain URLs to pages that do not need further editing could be filled in with a green background (signifying that they are “good to go”), while a red background could be used in rows containing URLs to pages that are in need of editing.
4. Producing a Summary of Necessary Changes for Each Page
In the same spreadsheet that you’ve created to keep track of progress you can create a column that would allow for notes to be inserted next to each URL. As you read over each page, jot down the aspects that you’d like to change the most, and/or any content additions you’d like to see integrated. Alternatively, you could take a more thorough editing approach by copying the content of each page into a document and utilizing some of the advanced editing and tracking features in Microsoft Word or a similar program.
5. Developing and Integrating New Content
In addition to using the basic content requirement checklist you’ve created, consider some more in-depth tips on creating share-worthy content. It should be noted that it is better to leave the old pages on the site while the new ones are being written/revised, as taking them down prematurely will only cause a swift decline in traffic levels, and of course a slightly ineffective page is always better than a nonexistent one. Keep in mind that as you’re making revisions and adding new content you should be taking the necessary steps to ensure that your site is being routinely indexed by Google.
6. Conducting Competitive Comparisons and Reviewing Changes for Accuracy
Once you’ve got the new/revised pages drafted and ready to be uploaded to the site its time to compare each page to the most similar pages that competitors already have online. What is it about your page that makes it better than the competition’s? Does it contain more or less information? Is it too similar, or does it provide unique value? Ideally, you want every one of your pages to contain the most authoritative and captivating content on the topic. Double-check every fact and recommendation within the content before uploading it, as even seemingly trivial mistakes can do a lot to hinder your site’s reputation.
7. Perfecting Interlinking Structure and Formatting
Finally, the best time to do interlinking and experiment with text size, font, and other aesthetic features, is during the uploading process. At this point all of your pages have been written, and once they’re all pending or live within the CMS you’ll have the URLs needed to insert hyperlinks wherever applicable. Inserting your internal linking structure before all of the content has been uploaded can be hassle, as you’ll have to keep going back in to add more links to pages as new content is uploaded to the site, which is why we recommend doing a thorough interlinking after the content and navigational structure is already put together, particularly if you’re renovating an entire site. If you’d like to know how to make your content look more appealing, here are some useful formatting tips to consider.
Keith Tully is an experienced business management specialist and manages a team of Licensed Insolvency Practitioners with Real Business Rescue (RBR), an insolvency firm that has helped countless business owners and directors devise actionable strategies to facilitate recovery in the face of bankruptcy and liquidation. In the above piece, RBR extends help to struggling online businesses that are having trouble converting their visitors into clients.
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