You have heard it said, time and time again: When it comes to attracting a good readership and achieving a higher search engine ranking, content is king. And for the most part, that’s true: If you don’t have high-quality content, not only will Google turn up its nose at you, but your readers won’t be your readers for long. Your content needs to be engaging, accurate and well-written in order to satisfy the 21st-century information-seeker. Still, the king can’t do it alone: If you’re relying only on content to boost your readership (and your bottom line), then you might find yourself lacking in overall success. So, what else matters at least as much as content? Here are some elements to consider including on your site in order to make it the best — and most profitable — that it can be:
Tools – Consider sites like Facebook, Amazon and Google. Ranking among the top ten English websites on the World Wide Web, they don’t contain any real content to speak of. What do they consist of? Tools. While your website might not exist solely for the purpose of providing visitors with tools, they can definitely help make your site more user-friendly and valuable. Some to consider include a search bar, a way for clients or customers to add their own reviews (of your products or other products on the market), a way to interact with other users, email or text message capabilities, private messaging, and instant chat.
Community – Related to some of these tools is a sense of community. Being able to interact with others through the use of tools isn’t going to provide a lot of value without a community of people ready and able to put them to use. A forum is an excellent way to bring interested people together. You will need to come up with forum rules and a focus, as well as moderators to ensure that both the rules and the focus are adhered to. You don’t want to run into the problem of having a community that has gotten out of control with spammers, members who want to pick arguments and a lack of moderation, so proceed with caution. A successful community, however, guarantees you a readership, can boost your sales and can improve your brand’s recognition.
Appeal – You’ve undoubtedly visited websites that, while providing good content, usable tools and a sense of community, were unappealing for some reason. It might have been the theme colors. Perhaps there was music that started automatically which annoyed you (and those in the room with you). The font might have been too small, or the photos too grainy. Maybe the site map was missing, or you couldn’t find the “contact us” link anywhere on the page. All of these are factors that you need to keep in mind when designing your site; if users find it hard on the eyes, annoying to the ears or frustrating to find what they’re looking for, then they won’t use your tools, they won’t join your community, and they won’t read your content.
While content may never be de-throned as king, it’s important to realize that there other members of the royalty that are just as important to your site’s continued success. Work on improving the facets that tend to draw people in and keep them coming back, and you should see your sales, clicks, readership and bottom line go up!