martes, 27 de marzo de 2007

King Content For The Small Business Site

Tengo que editar esta entrada, pero perderla sería grave. Mi intención es traducirlo para enseñarlo.

King Content For The Small Business Site

A common challenge for many small business owners striving to build an online presence is they feel there is really nothing for them to say on their Web sites. While there is nothing you can do with a lazy business owner who just slaps up a 1-page site, anyone who seriously wants to make their niche business site stand out from the crowd can easily do this.

It takes about 1 hour per week to produce these types of content pages. Maybe you have to track someone down to add an actual page to your site, too. But writing this content doesn’t require any special SEO or copywriting skill. It’s equivalent to writing a memo to your partner or a letter to your Mom.

So here is a quick list of content you can create without having to learn anything, mostly without having to think about how to present it, and in short, easy timeframes. If you keep your tone light and conversational — avoid trying to sound “business like” — you’ll create interesting, readable, informative content.

There are search engine optimization advantages to providing these types of content. I’ll review some of those advantages after summarizing a few examples.

Content For Your Web Site

1. Annual summary of accomplishments
2. Goals for the coming year
3. Staff position summaries
4. Special event reviews
5. Endorsements for local causes and events
6. New product announcements
7. New hires
8. Facilities expansion
9. Business trips, trade shows, etc. that you participate in
10. Your opinion or position on an industry event, situation, product recall, scandal, etc.
11. New partners or vendors you’ve just established relationships with

Annual summary of accomplishments - Every company has the right to celebrate its continued existence. Whether it’s over your Winter/New Year’s vacation or just after you do your annual taxes, you have about a 1-week window in which you let go of the business hassle — even if only just a little — and try to relax with your family. You can set aside 1 hour to write a short summary of what your company accomplished in the past year.

Put that summary on your Web site.

Goals for the coming year - You don’t have to promise the moon, but if your treat your customers and your Web site visitors like they are actually interested in what your company plans to do in the next twelve months, you’ll probably write something worth reading. Don’t go on for 50 paragraphs. A few hundred words is all you need.

Staff position summaries - How many times have you explained what your company does for someone? You do it when you interview prospective employees. You do it when insurance agents come seeking quotes. You do it when you pitch your products or services to important new prospects that could bring you a lot of business. You do it when you seek a loan. If your friends and relatives come to town and visit your company, you give them the “50-cent tour”.

Put that tour into words. Tell them that Fred handles the sales and he travels three days a week. Tell them that Shirley doesn’t just answer phones, she also keeps the books, handles employee benefits and payroll, and reminds you when important deadlines are looming. Bill is the production foreman with 25 years’ experience and more know-how than all those college kids he manages.

Talk about what people do in your company. Pick one job position and describe its responsibilities. And most importantly: tell your readers how this position benefits your customer. What is the business reason for you to have a guy like John sitting behind the sales counter? How does having your own on-staff analyst benefit the customers?

Do you absolute best to keep the “corporate speak”, “formal business writing” style out of these job summaries. You’re just sharing some insight into how your company works with your visitors. Nothing more.

Special event reviews - A lot of companies participate in special events, even if only indirectly through their employees. Do you have someone on staff who is involved with their church or community? Does your company sponsor local schools, charity events? Do you participate in Pioneer Days or other community celebrations? Tell people how your company is making a contribution to the local community. Provide some detail on why you do this. Make your employee a star. Show people you appreciate the heritage in your community.

Remember, you’re writing informally for friends and Mom, not for yet another sales flyer. It’s okay NOT to mention the special sale prices (link to additional information in the footer).

Endorsements for local causes and events - If your company is involved in a long-term project, such as helping a local school buy new equipment, supporting a special volunteer program, participating in a year-long awareness campaign, even supporting a political candidate — talk about it. Explain why you have committed resources to supporting this cause. Talk about why the upcoming event is so important to you and your employees.

This is not a press release, not a marketing spiel. It’s just a quick rundown for your friends and family on what you’re doing to help other people or in anticipation of a big celebration or event a lot of people are anticipating. Reach out and invite people to see the world as you do.

New product announcements - Adding products to your inventory may not seem newsworthy, but don’t you still tell people about your latest brand of floor wax when you get a chance? Your Web site is a chance. Why did you pick that floor wax for your inventory? How will it benefit your customers? What do you think about the company behind the product? Are you the manufacturer? What need are filling? Why did you develop this product instead of something else? How did you develop the product?

There is a story behind every bottle of shampoo on the store shelf. Find the story, share some laughs, shed some tears, give people a reason to believe you didn’t just randomly grab the first profitable idea that came along. Maybe you did, but you still went through a process to bring that product (or service) to your market.

New hires - New hire announcements are boring. Explaining why you hired someone and how you expect that person to help your company and your customers (or vendors) is something else. Share some insight into the kind of person you hired. Talk about his or her background in a casual, informal way. “Michael graduated from Harvard in 1999. He had an opportunity to attend Yale but chose Harvard because he especially liked the library.”

Facilities expansion - Why are you moving your office or factory? Are you building a new facility? What was the process that led to that decision? How will the new facility impact your business, your community, your customers? If there are some tough questions being thrown at you, this is a perfect opportunity to roll up your sleeves, take your glasses off, and invite people to sit down and hear your side of the story.

Business trips, trade shows, etc. that you participate in - How much do people want to know about trade shows? Actually, quite a bit. The more insight you provide into an industry show that someone else is thinking of attending next year, the more helpful they will think you are. Maybe they’ll want to work for you. Maybe they’ll be impressed with your thoroughness and want to be a customer or a vendor.

Don’t just say, “We went to the 2007 AmpSca Trade Fair and had a great time. We enjoyed meeting everyone.” Say something useful. Describe the sessions you attended, the vendors whose booths impressed you, the people you met, etc.

Your opinion or position on an industry event, situation, product recall, scandal, etc. - Many industries have ongoing consumer-related issues. How does your company handle those concerns? Talk about them. Provide some background on the issues. Give people your view, and share some insight into how they can better manage the challenges they’ll face when they confront these issues as customers or in their own business.

If someone else is kicking dirt up in your industry, making you look bad, give people an opportunity to appreciate the fact you are not making the same mistake the newsmakers are being criticized for. Or, if you have done the same thing, but have taken corrective action, explain that. Show people you care enough about your customers to stay on the responsible side of the line.

New partners or vendors you’ve just established relationships with - What do you expect to gain or accomplish with your new business relationship? How will it help your customers, your employees, and/or your community? Who benefits? What problems or challenges do you solve?

Search Engine Optimization Advantages

Simply writing content and throwing it up on your Web site is not enough. For the SEO specialist, every new content page represents an opportunity to capture new visitors, to guide new visitors to other parts of your Web site, and to reinforce the value your site provides to potential visitors.

Many people would immediately suggest you create these types of content through a blog. There is nothing wrong with using a blog to communicate to your visitors, but it’s not the most imaginable way. Blogs are passe. Blogs are more like loudspeakers blaring out the latest tidbit.

Special content should be informative, well-organized, and presented in such a way that it complements your other Web content. But it should also be presented as special content. I would create these articles as separate features on a business Web site. I would not recommend you use .PDF files but many companies do provide newsletters in .PDF format.

Special content provides you with opportunities to promote your products and services through informal, casual language. You can link to your product and service pages with their professionally written copy and their professionally designed shopping cart templates. Special content is not embedded in the shopping cart. It deserves better treatment than to be thrown up as the next blog post.

Incorporate special content into your internal navigation system. Add it to the menu system. Expand your static Web content URLs by one more page each time you add a special feature (or by 5 pages if you really like to write wordy stuff).

And include some pictures, especially if you’re summarizing events or talking about specific people. Pictures increase your visibility through image search so be sure you create descriptive ALT= text and use descriptive file names for the pictures.

And add links to external content. If you’re talking about an event or organization with its own Web site, link to the site in the body copy of your article. If you’re talking about industry-specific tasks, link to a search engine definition or an industry-accepted glossary site that defines the word.

Assume your readers don’t know nearly as much about what you do as you and your employees do. Be helpful and informative with your content. Remember, you’re explaining your business to Mom. You’re giving Mom examples and illustrations to help her understand how you do what you do and where you fit in.

If you can, mention previous special features and link to them.

Whether you do one a week or one a month, these special features can extend your visibility in search engines, help you associate your Web site with important industry resource sites, make your site a more useful resource, and help make your site moe interesting.

You increase the chances of drawing more visitors, of intriguing those visitors, of making a good impression upon them. If all you write for your site is sales and marketing copy, you can do much, much more by writing informative narrative content that suspends all pretense and polish. Give people a warm, enthusiast voice. They’ll respond.

And you’ll find that the search engines respond in ways you never imagined. Why? Because your copy will be more lucid, more fluid, more dynamic. You’ll find yourself plugging holes in your visibility that you never realized existed.

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