Is your website helping you reach your business goals? As the digital face of your business, your website must be professional, visually appealing and easy to navigate: but it should also prompt visitors to take action. If the content on your website is not accurate, relevant and strategic, visitors are likely to bounce — that is, to quickly hop off your website without really engaging with it.

How do you compel readers to linger over your website longer than 15 seconds? What will make search engines take notice of it? How often will your website need to be updated, so it stays fresh? These questions are addressed through content strategy.

Content strategy is the practice of understanding your audience’s needs and taking action to ensure the words, images, structure and other elements of your website meet those needs. An effective content strategy helps determine the substance of your site.

To create your content strategy, think through these dimensions:

Make a powerful first impression

Imagine the first impression your website should have on readers. This is the instantaneous, gut reaction you want them to take away — a positive one, of course. What do visitors see when they look at your website quickly, and what do they remember when they leave? Grab their attention with a punchy headline, authentic image or other element that presents the offering most relevant to them.

Convey your unique selling proposition

Next, consider your value statement. What value do you provide customers? What problem do you solve for them? Boil that down to its essence, so visitors can grasp it quickly. This is your unique selling proposition. This is what sets you apart from competitors.

Offer proof

Skeptical customers want proof. This comes in the form of support statements that illustrate why you’re the best partner to customers — often in the form of testimonials, statistics, satisfaction ratings, awards, certifications, images and other proof points demonstrating how effective your service has been.

Stay true to your brand

Brand attributes are next. These are the associations consumers have with your brand. Ideally, these associations are ones you’ve helped foster through your marketing efforts and your interactions with customers. Are you (as a business) a friendly advisor? A no-nonsense problem solver? A cost-efficient alternative to competitors? No doubt you can come up with several brand attributes that you want customers to associate with your business.

As you plan the content for your website and get into the specifics of your products or services, consider how those brand attributes guide your messaging. Write content with your customers’ problems in mind. How do your business attributes solve those problems?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Consider the type of content you should create by thinking through what would be most useful to visitors and to you. For instance, would your customers find white papers or videos more useful in their quests for information and solutions? When you provide those solutions, what should your business get out of it? How will you measure the results?

Keep your content strategy current

Answering these questions, and following these guidelines, will help you craft your own content strategy. Once you have relevant content in place, search engines are likelier to notice your site when prospective customers hunt online for products and services similar to yours. If you regularly update your content and keep it fresh, that also can boost your search engine rankings.

Your content strategy is never truly “done.” When carefully executed, it’s the blueprint for how you interact with your customers not only on your website, but also through social media, email marketing and your other marketing efforts. As your business grows and changes, so should your content strategy. Let it evolve with your business and watch the difference in your customer engagement.

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