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A successful website content strategy involves several different aspects. How is your design? Are you using effective SEO? What about the user experience? Are you talking with visitors, taking suggestions to heart?

You can figure out some of the answers to those questions in your analytics. Bounce rate is one metric to pay attention to. As defined by Hubspot, it’s the percentage of people who visit your site and then leave without clicking on anything. That means no conversions, and that means no sales. A high bounce rate is a good signifier that customers just aren’t finding what they’re looking for, in which case some website content strategy adjustments can help you change course and deliver what your customers and clients want to see.

1. Decide on Formats, Style, and Tone

Choose content formats that match your topic. Videos are popular—up to 53 percent of consumers want to see more of them—but you’ll need to balance it out with the written word, a.k.a. blog posts, which will get picked up by Google’s search algorithm and keep you high in search results. Keep blog posts regular and you’ll continually build up a flow of organic traffic. And when you use video, for christ’s sake, don’t have them autoplay. Nobody likes unexpected sound playing, which is why Google is trying to put a lid on it.

As for style and tone, you’ll want to keep your website prose engaging, while ensuring everything you write matches your brand messaging. But above all, keep your content simple and clear.

2. Don’t be Afraid of Getting Conversational

When it comes to writing style, always keep the KISS design principle in mind. The clearer your writing, the more likely visitors will stay on the site to read because it will flow naturally. Obviously, you also want to avoid grammar and spelling errors, factual errors, missing citations (more on that soon), and, as always, keep things useful. And also, keep it unpretentious. The average reading level in the US is close to a 6th grade level. Aside from that, many readers speak English as a second language, so keep complex sentences and long-winded explanations to a minimum.

But don’t immediately write off slang or more conversational language. Ultimately, the end goal is to connect with your audience, and a great way to do that is to speak to them the way you’d speak to them in person. If your product or service is a little more complex, work on finding ways to explain those concepts in laymen’s terms. Consumers and clients alike appreciate it when a brand is easy to understand.

3. Make it Skimmable

To continue the previous point, make your website content easy to skim. The average human attention span is—well, actually, no one knows for sure despite myths about goldfish. But anyway, it’s a good writing practice to get rid of word bloat on each page. Cutting down on word count may seem antithetical—doesn’t Google favor long-form content? There are a million different opinions on the matter—but the fact is website writing (and writing in general!) must be clear and concise if you want readers to stick around or understand what you’re saying. Get rid of unnecessary words and length, keep things engaging and short enough, and visitors will stay past the first impression.  

4. Don’t Forget Your Keywords

SEO is important, no denying that. Keywords should be in the body of blog posts, meta descriptions, as well as the headings, titles, and URLs throughout your website. Don’t forget the alt tags in images, either. When choosing the right keywords, make sure they are relevant and valuable for your users, and relevant for Google to pick up. And relevance is key here—nobody likes clickbait—since you want your website to remain credible and you want to retain visitors. Optimizing content for SEO takes time and experimentation, so be sure to check in with your analytics occasionally to make sure you’re on track.   

5. Don’t Forget to Link

Including hyperlinks on your website shows visitors that you’re a dependable factchecker who’s not afraid of sourcing. And that will raise your website’s standing! Plus, it’s just good manners. Wouldn’t you want other reliable sites to backlink to yours? If you’re worried about keeping visitors on your site you can always choose “Open link in new window” when creating hyperlinks, an option available in most website CMS editors.

Another good practice is to include links to other relevant pages in your blog posts, perhaps in a “Relevant Posts” section at the bottom. Linking to other relevant blog posts or pages on your company’s website helps “stickiness” or keep visitors around on your website longer. And the longer they’re there, the more likely they’ll complete a call-to-action.

6. Listen to Your Target Audience

An easy way to get feedback on how your strategy is doing—besides analytics—is to ask the visitors. Online conversations are an important way to optimize your strategy and gain valuable insight into what customers want. Social media is an obvious way to do this. On platforms such as Facebook and Twitter you can discuss with consumers everything that works and doesn’t work about your website. Turn off your “radio voice” and speak with them as you would anyone else. Alternately, you can use polls and surveys to gauge the temperature. Are the blog topics interesting? Are visitors finding everything okay? Is there anything you can add to the website to make it easier to navigate? Take the feedback seriously and try implementing new ideas suggested by customers.

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