If a client wants to write their own content, hopefully the site has a simple navigational structure like this, for example:
- Our Team
- In the News
- Contact Us
Here are some hints………..
Follow the map
Right from the start, remind the client that the navigation structure is the map for their site and that they will need to provide a corresponding piece of content for each "location on the map."
Key words and phrases
Remind the client of the importance of keywords and phrases before they start to develop their content.
Suggest they do some research of how others find them. What words or phrases are visitors most likely to enter into a search engine screen (like Google or Bing) to find businesses like theirs? It is important that they identify the most important keywords and phrases for their business in order to achieve successful search engine optimization. We all know that key phrases spell success, but make sure your client understands this if they are writing content for their site. Matt Smith has some great suggestions on key words and phrases on his blog.
Writing, editing and formatting
Explain to the client that they must submit their copy just as they wish it to appear on their site. That means all spelling and grammar should be correct. See also: confusing word pairs. They may find this helpful.
Filling in the blanks
Heres what I tell a client about filling in the blanks as they write:
- Home " 250-300 words that define the company, product, or business. Be sure to be concise and to the point. If this section becomes too long, viewers will quickly lose interest in exploring the site further
- About Us " a description of the background and/or history of the company. This is the most logical place to place a Mission or Culture Statement — either in the body of the page text or as a separate page as a drop-down from this section. Same goes for staff listings, bios and pictures.
- Services " remind the client that if they offer a variety of services it may be best to devote a page of content to each type or to list them on the main page with an intro of a few sentences and a read more link that connects to another page of content that gives more detail. In this way the main services page gives the visitor a quick glance of all the types of services offered without too many clicks. Make sure they understand that forcing a visitor to click through too many pages to find the info they want often results in frustration and moving on to the next site they want to explore. The goal is to engage the reader and keep him interested.
- In the News " focus on fresh ideas. Content should be vibrant and interesting. Newsletters, press releases, awards received by staff members, magazine articles that their business may have been featured in or even community news announcements about organizations and causes that the client is involved in are excellent items to include in this section. Customers often want to know that the business takes an interest in their community and plays a vital role.
Keeping this information current is especially important if the client is going to maintain their own content once the site is launched. And it might help you in the future too. Sometimes clients just dont realize the time that it takes to keep their site up-to-date; if they become overburdened with it, they just may turn to you in the future to keep it updated. Good for everyone!
- Blog embedded in the site – same goes for blogging within the site. Current and pertinent posts are essential. Another opportunity for copywriting in the future!
- Contact Us — this is pretty self-explanatory. Name, address and phone with a simple contact form. A client may want their email address on that page, but we all know the spam risks of that. Most clients will listen to you and take your advice on this.
Now if youre already in the web development business, this is all pretty remedial information, but sometimes we take for granted what we know. Its good to understand what your client may not know and take the time to reinforce it for them.
In the end everyone will be happy and the next time your clients site needs updates or fresh content, you just might get a call. Its also best to follow up with them and see how theyre doing on keeping that site up-to-date " a gentle marketing strategy.
What other suggestions do you have for guiding the client on content development, keeping them happy and maintaining a healthy business relationship?
- I Can't Write But I Have To: 10 Tips To Make It Easy On You (Mandy Boyle)
- How to Create an Article of 1,000+ Words in 90 Minutes or Less (Patrick Stckmann)
- 3 Bare Bones SEO Techniques Small Business Sites Can't Afford to Ignore (Melanie Nathan)