A website is a complex thing. It must function properly. It must perform a psychological function in terms of informing and persuading it’s visitors. It must be found and indexed properly by search engines. It must be clear and easy to understand and it must be easy to navigate.
After reviewing other articles that talk about the most important website features I found a lot of good information. Still, I believe, there is one feature that stands out above everything else. It’s always been important and it always will be important. Your website can be crippled if only one of many other important features are missed. However, without this one feature your website will be of little use to you or your visitors and won’t see much, if any, traffic.
That single most important website feature is content. Content contained within your website. Content that exists as text, pictures, video, and interactive functions. Content that attracts both search engines and people.
In terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) website content is more important than ever. Recently the search engines have gotten more sophisticated in determining which websites have good content and which do not. The result is that websites with good content rank higher and get found more often when people are searching the web.
Obviously SEO is not the only reason that content is important. The purpose of your website is to be informative and, for some, persuasive in terms of selling your products or services. It seems like common sense. Websites with good content should rank high in search results. They should be easily found. That’s the job of a search engine, to help it’s users find good websites. To help them find what they are looking for. Their answers are more often found in good websites with good content!
The obvious and most common type of content is the text on the website. This is what the web depends on. Without text there would be no search engines. There would be no web.
In terms of optimizing a website for search there is no upper limit on how much text you should include. Too little text is the most common problem. It’s a bit different when considering people though. Your website shouldn’t be flooded with so much text that a visitor has a difficult time reading it. Websites should be clean and simple. There is a way to have it both ways. Separate text into paragraphs and break text into sections. Use bold headlines above those sections of text. Integrate pictures and video within the text. Certainly the quality of the written text is important. It should be clear and to the point.
Pictures are a great addition to a website. They inform as well as add visual enhancement. Pictures can be optimized for search engines too. The HTML language includes a tagging feature that can be used to describe a picture. This tag is picked up by the search engines. The words included in this tag inform the search engines what the picture is about. The picture should be relevant to the other content on the page.
Video is another great addition to a website. As with pictures, video can add visual enhancement and more information to the other content on the page. Videos can be uploaded to video sharing sites such as YouTube. They can then be embedded into your own website. The video remains hosted on the video sharing site and shared into your own website. This method is relatively easy to implement and it works great.
Social Media Integration
I would consider Social Media integrated into a website the most common form of interactive functionality. In the search optimization world we’re hearing it more and more, the search engines are using social signals when ranking websites. In other words, if your website is mentioned in Facebook, Linked-in, and other places such as blogs and discussion forums, it helps your site rank higher in search results. Also, if your website is integrated and tied to your social sites such as your business Facebook page that helps too.
Integration of social websites should be done properly. You want people to like your Facebook page. Making it easy by adding a like button to your website might be a great idea. However, you don’t want to make it easy for people to leave your website. They may never come back! This is true for all links to other sites. You don’t want to lose your website visitors. You want them to stay on your website as long as possible. It’s a good idea to set the outgoing links to open in a new tab or window so that your website is still open in another tab or window.
How to Generate Website Content
This could be a topic for a whole new article. Sometimes it’s not so easy to come up with content for a website. A plumber for example might have a hard time thinking of what to say about his business. Here’s a few tips that he might use.
1. Think about the problems that his customers have and talk about the solutions. He might even describe past problems that he has personally dealt with and talk about how he solved the problem through his services.
2. Find other websites in the same business category to look for ideas. Read what they are saying about their business. This should trigger some thoughts as to what you can say about yours.
3. Look in article directories on the web. Many exist, including EzineArticles.com. These directories contain articles about almost every topic you can imagine. The articles are there to be shared. You can copy them and put them on your own website as long as you don’t change them and give the author credit. This is a fast way to gather a lot of content for your website. Be careful to use articles by authors who are not your direct competitors though. You don’t want to be sending your potential customers to your competitor’s website. An article by a plumber in California that provides useful information might be a great piece of content for a plumber in Minnesota since the two do not compete with the same customers.
Website content is arguably the most important website feature to possess. Without it your website is not attractive to search engines and it’s not attractive to people.
Don’t forget that quality is important too. Don’t just fill up your website with garbage. The content must be good. Bad content is as bad as no content. Fill your website with a lot of good quality content that people are looking for. You’ll be paid back in website traffic!