How Important is Written Content on a Website?

A client recently asked a question like this: “How important are the specific words on a website?” I didn’t have a quick answer because there are conflicting factors at play, especially for a small business. Here’s the full answer.

Any Word Could Be Important

I’m about to say that the exact wording isn’t top priority, but I want to first point out how the exact wording can be important. Professional copywriters study and practice the craft of saying things in the perfect way. Every word counts For instance, should you say “for 15 years” or “since 1999”? According to David Ogilvy in “Ogilvy on Advertising”, it depends on your audience. If your audience is old enough to remember the year, the number of years (15 years) year seems more distant in the past. If your audience is not old enough to remember the year, the exact year (1999) seems more distant. That book was written in 1985, so today I think the turn of the century makes a difference. I think since we’re in 2014, years from the 1900’s seem more distant. Any detail like that could be important in website copy. At a large scale, any detail could change the response enough that you should care about every detail.

Small Business Websites – Content is Important in a Different Way

For small businesses, the exact wording is important, but often perfect isn’t required. It can take a long time to work out the perfect phrasing of every page. That time costs money. Generally, small businesses won’t see a return on a big investment in perfect copy. Wording is still important. You want to be positive, highlighting the benefits of your company and services. The style should fit the business. The writing should be grammatically correct with correct spelling and punctuation. But it doesn’t have to be word-smithed like a high-dollar, national advertising campaign. Small businesses can benefit from a website with relevant content, even if it’s not perfect.

Keywords in the Titles, Headlines and Copy

On any website keywords are important. And by “keyword” I mean any word or phrase your customers use when searching for your company, product or service. Search engines use the content of sites when creating search engine results pages (SERPs). So it’s very important that keywords be included in the HTML titles, headlines (specifically in HTML headline tags) as well as in the paragraphs. In fact, Google encourages well-organized content using the headline tags and paragraphs.

Content Quality and Quantity

Generally, the more content, the better the Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but quality is also important. The major search engines want to provide relevant, quality results, so they also screen for quality and sometimes penalize sites that overly repeat keywords or have low-quality, black-hat content. So good content is important. Organized content is important. And a base quantity of content is important. But the precise wording…well, it’s important, but for most small businesses, there’s a low point of diminishing returns on the effort to create perfect copy. Be positive. Use correct grammar and spelling. Create content relevant to your audience and business. After that, tweak and perfect the content based on your time, resources and potential return on the costs.