If George Lucas taught us anything with his re-tinkering of the original Star Wars trilogy it's that there is no such thing as "perfect." When it comes to your website's content, the same holds true. But in the case of your website, the tinkering should improve upon the original rather than create a bastardize version of an mildly flawed classic.
Perhaps I can come up with a better example. I recently upgraded my copy of The Princess Bride from DVD to gloriously beautiful Blu-ray. The video quality is far superior to DVD which was a considerable improvement on my old VHS copy that I owned way back when. Moving to Blu-ray was a much needed improvement over what came before it.
Tinkering that makes sense
Generally when they re-release movies on a new format they go back and remaster it from the original print. This allows them to bring the quality up to the new quality standards. I don't know about you but watching stuff on VHS just doesn't cut it for me anymore. As time changes so do our expectations. We no longer settle for sub-par video quality when we can get regular TV delivered in HD. Watching an improved version of The Princess Bride or Ghostbusters on Blu-ray is tinkering I can definitely get behind.
Websites work the same. As times goes by so do your visitor's expectations. So as much as you think you've got the "perfect page" or your content is just the way you want it... it's probably time to review it to make sure it's still doing the job it's supposed to.
More than once I've run across a business owner that wants their site "optimized" but was reluctant to make any changes to their website. "Just work on the stuff you can't see." Unfortunately, optimizing your site for search engines and visitors means you have to make changes to the visible portions of the site itself. These people often walk away disappointed.
Ensuring your site continues to meet your visitor's needs means you need to be willing to review key areas of your content and its presentation.
The most obvious place to start is with your keywords. Whether your site has been optimized or not, reviewing keyword selection is something you need to do on a regular basis. Over time keywords people use change. I've seen this repeatedly over time where certain keyword phrases get searched less over time while other phrase variations become more popular.
As keyword phrases change you'll need to review your content to ensure you're using the more common terminology being searched. This doesn't mean you have to change the focus of your content, just the words used in how you present it.
If it's good for the engines...
Also look at how your content is presented on the page. One of the frustrations SEOs have is when site owners want to hide content from the visitors. Some of this is carryover from the days when SEOs were "improving" content the way George Lucas improved the Star Wars saga with Episodes I, II and III. What is more common, however is that they layout of the site is "just right" and any new necessary content just doesn't fit. Keywords are not JarJar Binks! They do have a purpose and they can be added into the site without making you throw up a little in your mouth.
The solution many site owners come up with is to find creative ways of hiding or removing content they don't like.
There are reasons to place content behind "hidden" layers, such as tabbed content, that improves the usability of the content on a single page. The idea of this isn't to hide the optimized content from the visitor (only being available to the search engines) but it's to ensure that all the necessary content is presented in a format that gives the reader easy access to the content in digestible chunks.
As soon as you start trying to hide content from your readers you begin to lose trust, not just with them but the search engines as well.
Hiding the darker side
It's entirely understandable that people don't want anything negative about them to appear on their own website. But when it comes to product reviews negative reviews next to positive reviews not only give you additional credibility, they give some context to the buyers.
I often want to read the negative reviews of a product I'm looking to buy just so I feel like I won't be hit with any unexpected "problems" later on. If your customers know the downside before they buy they will be less likely to return the product due to dissatisfaction.
Avoid the hype
One thing you want to be sure to clear your content of is unnecessary and unsubstantiated hype. At the same time, anything that can be substantiated should be added and if needed, linked to the external resource that proves it. Keep your "perfect" content up to date with fresh testimonials, links to new and valuable resources, and including anything that improves the sales process.
Keeping your content genuine and current is essential to ensuring that you are able to meet your visitor's needs as their expectations change over time. We often get satisfied when our content is "just right." But the reality is that things change and so your content needs to change too.
This post was inspired from The Princess Bride themed presentation I gave in early 2010 at SEMpdx's Searchfest titled Inconceivable Content: The Dread Pirate Robert's Guide to Creating Swashbuckling Content, Pillaging the Search Engines, and Commandeering a Treasure Trove of Conversions. If you enjoyed this post you also might enjoy other posts inspired from the same. Search for "inconceivable content" on this blog to find them all.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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