Updating your website is a process - one that can feel overwhelming, even if you’ve been through it before. To help you navigate the journey, we’ve partnered with a few marketing experts to bring you a candid collection of advice and best practices, which we’ll be delivering through our Redesigning Your Website series.
Last week, we shared some tips for connecting and engaging with your mobile and social audiences. This week, we move into the Writing Phase.
PHASE 7 – WRITING
Content might be king, but sometimes it takes a kingdom to get it written, organized and uploaded. Once the basic design has been determined, it’s time to start planning and developing your site content. But don’t wait to start writing it—unless you’re planning to use mostly pre-existing website text.
A few other tips to make the process go smoothly:
USE THE OPPORTUNITY TO TIGHTEN UP TEXT.
Business law firm Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP’s redesigned site features an enhanced focus on attorney experience.
“We rewrote much of the content,” says Julie Gurney, Director of Marketing & Communications at Benesch. “The firm is organized by practice group, and when you clicked on a page, some were much too long. We tried to rewrite the practice group descriptions, with the lawyers’ agreement, and put the most relevant content into the top two paragraphs.”
But before you start tossing out old text, review your current site copy. Chances are, you won’t have to redo everything.
“So many firms try to rewrite all their content when they launch a new site, and it becomes overwhelming,” says One North Interactive Account Director Alyson Fieldman. “It’s important to see what the firm already has that can be repurposed for the new site.”
WRITE FOR CLARITY—AND SEO.
The actual text you include on each page can also affect search engine ranking.
“We’ve come to realize over the past few years that SEO is really driven by content,” Gurney says. “When we rewrote the content, we researched each practice area to find what keywords users would type into Google to get them to our site—and then incorporated those keywords.”
You’ll be compared in Google rankings to other law firm websites because the content is similar. To improve your status, focus on what differentiates your firm—and offer unique content. Updating this content regularly will also help to keep your firm at the top of search listings.
“It doesn’t matter how many times the word ‘corporate’ is on the page; there’s no reason you’re going to rank higher than the other 250 firms,” says One North Strategy Manager Sarah Levine Meyer. “Start talking about specific types of matters, and that’s when you become more relevant.”
WRITE EARLY AND OFTEN.
“You’ll need to review content if it’s migrated over or create it, if you’re starting from scratch,” Levine Meyer says. “That takes a lot of work. Saving that until late in the project can become problematic.”
Gurney advises starting to rewrite content immediately after the project kick-off. Also, allow time to prepare other site elements—such as headshots and stock photos. “We didn’t think about all that was involved with finding, buying and sizing images,” Gurney says.
KEEP IT COMING.
Creating and refreshing content solely for the redesign shouldn’t necessarily be the end goal. Adding new content to your site, even after launch, keeps your site fresh and inspires users to come back for more. Visitors will begin to associate your firm with high-quality content – and capabilities – which also helps with SEO. Developing a plan, like an editorial calendar, will help you to continually generate great content.
“Start by identifying content creators, and work to establish a schedule of some sorts,” says Levine Meyer. “Even if you don’t adhere to it exactly, you will likely find more success than hoping for things to be created on an ad hoc basis.”
After you’ve spent considerable time and effort creating and editing content, it is important to ensure you make the most of it. Next week, we’ll help you put a plan in place to enter it correctly, optimize it for search and make it easier for users to find. Want to start developing that plan now? You can find tips to get you started, and all other phases, in our Definitive & Candid Guide to Successful Websites.