The raison d’être for almost all web sites is the actual content whether it’s generated by an editorial team (like a classic website or e-commerce site) or by the users themselves (the case with most web applications such as Facebook or Twitter). The content is the reason why a user visits the website in the first place and is the single most important aspect of an online presence, a website with good content but crappy design can prosper and become immensely popular and useful (like Craigslist or Wikipedia) but the other way around is not true.
It doesn’t matter how well designed and effective something is if it doesn’t provide useful content, no one will find any value in it and it has no reason to exist. The content can be information, images, games, entertainment, offers or something else, it doesn’t really matter as long as it have value and purpose. However, for the rest of this guide it’s assumed that content is in the form of information.
Content Leads to Structure
A web site without content is nothing and a visitor unable to get to the content is a lost visitor. As a result the architecture of the site and web page structure must be based on the content. However, In order to be able to structure a page at all we must know what content we should have and that should be decided from the purpose and defined goals of the website.
Once we know what to include on the site it’s time to group it and make a structure, it doesn’t have to be a classic hierarchical structure but it’s important that we know where and how different content fits in the larger picture and how to get to it.
One of the first questions that usually arise is how many subpages you really need and how the main navigation menu should be organized. Think hard before you decide that a multi-level drop-down menu and five different pages about the company, its history, the logotype, the management and goals is needed, is it really? Apples’ website is a good example of how a quite large company with lots of information on the website has managed to reduce it down to just a few main sections.
More doesn’t equal better content, the opposite is usually true since less and more focused is easier to find, faster to consume and easier to understand.
Writing Good Content
The easy way to write good quality content is to write it from the heart, to be truthful, objective, to the point, correctly spelled and informative. Think about how an actual human (like yourself) would read and react to information and not fall in the trap of writing classic sales and marketing prose.
Think about what you write, company values servers no purpose on their own, it’s only in the implementation that they have value. The same is true for your offers and products. It’s not a goal in itself to have a product; it’s the value the product can add to the customer that’s important.
Content Owner and Delivery
All content must have an owner and that person should be the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic person in that area. This person must also feel a deep responsibility for it so that they can continue to update and keep it alive, organic and up-to-date and the initial delivery. That’s why it can never be the responsibility of an external person to create content for a website, it must come from the within the organization with possibly a little help from external sources. For new projects (and especially small ones) it’s extremely important that the ones responsible for content delivery is chosen as soon as the overall information architecture is decided and that they have a clear deadline so that none of the other work is stalled because of a lack of real content.
The base for good on-page SEO is great content, this combined with appropriate structure, accessibility and a snappy user experience is both what makes the search engines happy but most of all it’s what constitutes a great user experience. So while the technical part of on-page SEO is the subject of another section the foundation is in writing informative, quality content in a way that the search engines knows what the page is all about.
The easiest way to do this is to choose between one and three keywords for which the content should be based and then limiting the page to around 400-600 characters, this way the content is focused and of proper length for most online visitors.