Great content is key to your website success!

Author -  Allan Kent [Guest]

Gordon Ramsay's approach to helping struggling restaurants offers valuable pointers for your successful website.

By no means am I a fan of Mr Ramsay, but it's almost impossible to avoid seeing him on TV, and even if you skip the actual programmes, the trailers give you an idea of what he does – he helps to turn struggling restaurants around.  

The first thing Ramsay does every time is to experience the restaurant himself as a diner, taking the customer's perspective.  He then examines its in house systems and business approach.  Looking critically at the restaurant from these two perspectives helps him to discover where the improvements need to be made. 

Only once he's confident that the restaurant can deliver a great dining experience does he go to phase II, drumming up business, which he does by going round the streets with tasters, and inviting local influential people to experience the place. 

How is Ramsay's approach relevant to websites?  In the world of website marketing it seems to me that a huge amount of effort is focused on phase II - driving traffic to a website, before a great user experience has been created.

If you drive people to your site before you have critically evaluated what you offer from the customers perspective, then you run a high risk that it will create an experience for users that will stop them  ever returning.   Word of mouth and social media work both ways and can just as easily destroy your marketing efforts as help them. If you give people an un-inspirational or negative experience then at best you lose any ongoing marketing opportunities with them, and at worst you risk creating a negative profile.   

So, let's take a leaf out of Ramsay's book and see how your website's performance should really be improved! Getting back to basics, a website will only perform if its content is valuable, interesting and relevant to the audience it's targeting. The content represents the core element of the experience in the same way that a meal represents the core part of the dining experience. Sure, other factors affect it too, such as the look and feel, but ultimately a visitor will come back if the experience is good, and they won't if it's not!

What elements make for successful content? Obviously this will differ for each type of audience, but some of the basics include:

  • Fulfilling the needs of the visitor - If they are looking for information, make sure you give it to them. If they want opinions, give that to them. It's all about what they want, not want you want to give them.
  • Not falling into the trap of self glorification! If you're going to 'big yourself up' explain just how/why the visitor benefits from this.  Everyone wants the experience to be about them, and not about you. 
  • Keeping the content fresh – if the content remains unchanged, why would you expect anyone to come back?
  • Ensuring the content is clear, concise and well written, without any grammatical or spelling errors.
  • Seeing yourself from the visitors' perspective – is the experience a good one and if you were a stranger to the company, would the website experience be enough for you to recommend it to others?  Get someone with a "fresh pair of eyes" to critically evaluate the experience.

For websites, content is undoubtedly king as without it you have no experience. Only when the 'experience' is refined, captivating and customer focused, should traffic generation be attempted – a separate exercise, but one that uses the well formulated content as its bedrock.

As a PS - a good restaurant uses menus outside to draw people in - your website headlines need to do the same. Read more here.

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