Website owners want bling, but content is king

A client recently contacted me saying "I might as well stick a picture of my @$$ up on my site - It'll probably get more hits." He's absolutely correct.

I apologise in advance - I'm about to have a whinge.

A client recently contacted me several months after launching his website saying "I can't find my site on Google. I might as well stick a picture of my @$$ up on my site - It'll probably get more hits." You know what? He's absolutely correct because that extra item will increase the amount of content on his site by about 15%. The site is a good clean design and optimised for SEO but it only has 6 pages of content and most of those contain only a few sentences. There's simply nothing for Google to index. A website which contains about 150 words is never going to be considered an important informational resource.

Good interactive and visual design will greatly enhance the effectiveness of your content. But, without good content your site will never be an effective business instrument.

The most successful sites are the ones that have lots of well written, accurate content related to their particular field. They perform well in search engines because of the amount of content and keywords. Also, these sites will generally get linked to by other relevant sites and this boosts rankings greatly because it helps search engines judge your site as a relevant site. Google calls it Pagerank.

So, if you are about to contact a designer to construct a new website, do you have a good idea of what you want your site to say?

The best content you can provide to your customers is the content they are looking for. Duh.

Yes, that sounds tremendously obvious. But, most sites simply don't provide it. As an example, before I recently redesigned my website, my portfolio got 7 times more page views than any other page. Being a web designer, people want to see what I can do for them. That's why I now show my portfolio right there on my home page.

Do you have customers email you, call you or come into your place of business? Do you sell products face to face with people? If so, what questions are most commonly asked by your customers? These are the questions in peoples minds when they are browsing your website. If you can give people this information as soon as they hit your site, you will have a successful website.

Once you've identified the key information you need to provide, don't stop. You can't have too much content as long as it is structured and well organised.

What makes you unique? Why are your staff so good? What makes you competitive? What makes customers loyal to you? What will sustain you into the future? What can your customer expect?  See if your suppliers can provide you with brochures, information, downloads, articles, etc?

So before going too deep into the visuals, nail the content first.

If you need further proof of the relevance of content, look at two of the most successful sites on the web at the moment. and . Nothing fancy in the design of either site, just massive amounts of instantly accessible, relevant content.

john-pitchers-avatar smAbout John Pitchers

John Pitchers is co-founder and lead developer at Joomstore where his primary role is the design and development of Joomla websites. He is also the developer of the FocalPoint maps extension for Joomla. John has been building CMS based web sites since 2004, originally working with Mambo before it forked into Joomla. When not writing PHP, Javascript or CSS you'll find John carving up the hills around Baldivis on his longboard (long before Walter Mitty made it famous).

Find out more about John on his page and . Follow John on Twitter.

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