For writers, designers, web developers and video producers, content (and the creation of content) has become a major new source of business. One that shows no sign of letting up.
Why? Because word is out that content (and by that, I mean lots of content) can help you generate more organic website traffic (free traffic) that will ultimately convert to leads and then sales.
All this is true.
Assuming, of course, you can …
- create content your audience wants to consume
- help the search engines find you and promote you
- convince searchers to select you from your competitors
- convert those new visitors into leads and sales
But should every piece of online copy be considered content?
If I write a new service page for a website, is that content? If I write a new blog post announcing a new product launch, is that considered content?
In the loosest sense of the term, I guess it could be. Looking at all the promotions I get from content companies, if you write it, design it or produce it, it’s content.
I’m not sure I agree.
Call me a stickler, but I think content is very particular type of marketing entity with a very particular purpose.
I believe content is created largely for search – both the people searching for answers and the search engines that deliver the content. To that end, content needs to be developed around specific search topics, queries or questions your audience is asking.
It is not a website page that describes your services.
When you are writing “service” pages for a website, you don’t typically write content (as I’ve defined above). You write descriptive copy about that service. You may include some benefits of using the service, some details on how the service works, some photos of completed work and some customer testimonials to build on social proof. You may even include some pricing information.
You may also optimize that page around a keyword phrase and you may fill in all the meta data. You may even write your on-page copy to incorporate variations of that keyword phrase. After all, you need to let the search engines know that page exists.
But is that really content?
I don’t think so – in part because it’s self-serving. That’s okay. It’s intended to be self-serving. Its purpose is to tell people what you do and why you’re the right choice for that service – and nothing more than that.
There was never any effort to educate … to answer questions your audience may be asking.
Don’t get me wrong. These service pages (and similar pages) are important projects for our clients and their websites. And they are good creative (copy/design) assignments that I happily accept all the time.
I’m just not sure I would call them content.
Okay then, what would be a content assignment?
Let me use my own business as an example. I have two somewhat overlapping sides to my business.
One side is multi-channel lead generation and lead nurturing – in which we provide done4you, creative and coaching services.
The other side of my business is direct mail which is really where I started more than 30 years ago. Because I’ve been involved in direct mail for so long, I have written extensively on the subject – covering all types of topics -from list research and offer strategy to format selection, response rates and testing.
I have a service page on direct mail too, but most of my traffic and leads come from the educationally focused articles I have written on the topic of direct mail.
I’m not a big operation by any stretch, and like many others, my output is sporadic. But even so, many of my articles get high ranking search engine placement for certain keyword phrases.
My direct mail service page, on the other hand, gets very little traffic from the search engines. But I need it because people look for it when they get on my site.
To be sure, my content articles are a bit self-serving too but in a less obvious way. I created the content not only to be informative and helpful, but also position to myself as an expert (self-serving).
Why make this distinction?
Why all the fuss? Is it really that important to distinguish between content copy and just regular copy?
The most important reason is expectations. You want to have realistic expectations going into a project.
If you are writing service pages the way we write most service pages, and you’re hoping those service pages will shoot to the top of Google, you’re bound to be disappointed.
But if you can create a cluster of content articles on topics and sub-topics related to that service page, you will likely see a very different outcome.