Creating Content for Your Website 101

Okay, so now that you’ve found some sources for creative content ideas, we need to tackle one of the most daunting tasks every website owner faces… content creation. Even experienced web professionals are often challenged by content creation, so you are in good company.

Good unique content is the most important thing that any website can offer. It is equally important to search engines and your live visitors. There are countless ways to approach creating content for your website, but we’ll just cover a handful of basics here to help get your wheels turning. These basics are universal to every website.

Just Write

There are some differences in writing for the web, but the fundamental first step is the same as for any kind of writing… you just have to start. Okay, this sounds like a no-brainer, and it is, but it is the initial stumbling block that holds up most people. Call it writer’s block, procrastination, or whatever it is that is holding you back. Either way, the same challenges you face writing offline are no different online.

The best way to overcome this initial, or shall we say inertial, challenge is to just write. Remember that you don’t need to write a “finished piece” in your first attempt. Even if getting started means nothing more than creating an outline, that at least gets you moving forward. If you have 2 or 3 keyword phrases that you want to use in your writing, great, but don’t worry too much about them when you start or you may find yourself struggling with each sentence. Far better to knock something out and then go back and tweak as desired.

Break It Down

It is very easy to become overwhelmed with any task. As a former boss always said, “When faced with the forest, pick a tree, any tree, chop it down, and move to the next one.” Content creation is a very important task that is best handled by breaking it down to smaller bits.

Pick one section of your site that needs content. Then pick one content idea that would work for that section. Following the step above, just start writing… jot down some words or ideas that relate to your topic. Next, create an outline based on those words. Now, pick off one section at a time off your outline and write about it, and move on to the next. Don’t worry about transitions between the sections as you can always smooth those over when you edit and revise.

Before you know it, you’ll have moved that handful of words into a handful of sections in no time. Now, before you fully revise and polish off your content piece, take a look at it and see whether it works as one piece or if you could break the sections out into their own pieces. If it makes sense to break sections out into their own pieces, you’ve just made your content creation even easier and gotten more mileage out of your efforts!

Department of Duplication Duplication

Search engines and users alike are looking for unique content, not the same information in several different places. Duplicate content has become a very important focus in search engines. When faced with duplicate content within your site, they will select whatever they determine to be the best page to return in their results. So having 3 pages that are identical or nearly identical isn’t going to get you 3 listings in search results, and may end up confusing your site visitors as well.

Another important area in regards to duplicate content is including content from article directories or other content that has or may appear elsewhere. Use articles that you feel are appropriate for your website and valuable to your visitors. But understand that you will probably be disappointed if you are just looking to use these reprint articles as a quick and easy way to add lots of content to your website to gain search ranking. If you are one of 10 websites using this content, the search engines will try to find the best or most authoritative source for their results, which may not be you.

Also keep this in mind if you are submitting your own content to these directories. It is often best to create different content for syndication than what you place on your own site.

Count to 10

Or 7 or 21 or 100. It’s true, people seem to love this kind of encapsulated content. Perhaps it just seems so neat and tidy or more achievable. But for whatever reason, you may grab people’s attention with catchy content that offers the “Top 10…,” “7 Steps for…,” or “100 Ways to…”

One of the best ways to do this is to create your list first, then pick a number, rather than trying to create a set list to begin with… start making a list and you’ll easily come up with 10 things, but start out to create a list of 10 things and you’ll find yourself struggling to come up with the last 1 or 3 items.

Love of Lists

The cousin of the Count is the List. Lists don’t have to be presented as a set number, but they quite often work nicely when done so. The web especially loves bulleted lists as they are quick and easy to scan. Lists can be great ways to summarize your overall content. Each list item may be a link to a service you offer or a product or product category.

Your list may be complete with just a paragraph or two discussing the list and then presenting each list item with just a few words. Other times, you may find that some or all of your list items need additional detail, which you can always follow up the list with, giving your readers a quick take-away and the ability to dig into specific areas in more detail.

It’s All About U

We’ll wrap up these content creation basics with the most important concept. Remember to write your content about U, as in the User or your visitor. Try to think about what your website users are looking for, what questions they have, what needs they are trying to satisfy or what problems they have that need to be solved. Try to give them something of value to them with each section and page of content on your website.