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Which Content Guidelines Should You Follow?
Content is the heart of any website. Layout, branding, and aesthetics are all critical aspects of sites, but without good content, those things are rendered useless — the site becomes a fancy car without a running engine.
Content, though, can’t just be thrown together, despite the urge to give Google and search engines as many posts and pages as possible. There’s an art to crafting content, and you don’t necessarily have to be a professional writer or graphic designer to create helpful content. These guidelines include:
Define Your Messaging
What is the ultimate takeaway for visitors to your website? That consistent message, whatever you define it to be, is that starting point. This is something that everyone needs to agree on: marketing, CEO, and content writers. Once they get on the same page, that message can be propagated forward into every piece of written content — standard marketing content on web pages, blogs and articles, infographics, social media, and more.
When you create content for your site, you’re putting it out there for the world to judge. Remember that while content establishes that digital footprint for search engine spiders to discover, ultimately it’s real human beings who will be reading or viewing it.
That means that for whatever type of content you produce — articles, infographics, videos, podcasts — the quality of your output reflects on your brand. Let’s take a look at written articles and blog posts. When we talk about quality for these pieces, the focus should be on:
- Quality of writing (grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary)
- Relevance of subject matter
- Appropriate tone of voice based on type of article
- Overall value for the reader
In this example, quality means that readers can feel the professionalism and value as they read the article or post. This reflects back on your brand, increasing your reputation among potential customers.
Educate, Inform, Entertain
People are coming to your website for information. They’re looking to solve a problem or get details or learn something new. When crafting content, this should always be your goal, no matter if it’s a formal instruction, article, or casual-tone blog post. Engagement is the goal of every article, and that means that the most important aspect of your content is that it gives readers whatever they’re looking for. Don’t go off on tangents, don’t bring up unrelated topics, and don’t let personal opinions bleed through (unless everyone agrees that it’s a good idea). Other than that, know your audience and the purpose of the content, then focus on creating something to fully engage the reader.
Avoid Corporate Speak
Buzzwords and corporate lingo should be avoided in just about any situation, but particularly so when crafting content. Your content should appeal to the widest audience possible. To do so, they should steer clear of these word choices. Otherwise, you’re going to alienate specific segments of your audience right off the bat:
- The audience that can see through buzzwords and knows that they’re just trendy jargon
- The audience that doesn’t understand the meaning behind the buzzwords and leaves the article out of confusion
You can try different tones and presentation formats in your content. You can experiment and flex your creative muscle. Just don’t lose sight of your goal: engage the reader, build your brand, and deliver value. Buzzwords and corporate lingo won’t help any of those.
Other content guidelines include integrating content into your social media strategy, creating content through customer proofing (testimonials, reviews, etc.), and exploring different blogging strategies. By becoming versed in these guidelines, your content strategy will have a clear path forward while ensuring a focus on engagement and value.