What Should You Put on Your Website?
Your website is being built, everything is going smoothly, the design is beautiful but… What on earth should you put on it?
It can be overwhelming to stare at a blank page (or screen) and try to dredge website content from the recesses of your brain. But if you think about it in terms of your target audience and what information they’ll want to know, it can be a lot easier to get started.
That’s right! Useful content = search engine optimization. But it has to be strategic, which is why we’re going to talk about what makes sense for your site content.
Recommended Website Pages
With a few exceptions, these pages are needed if you want your website to be navigable by your users. And if you need help thinking about the overall strategy of the site, read our other article on why you need a website.
A lot of home pages are pointless. They have some sort of welcome message, maybe a pretty picture, and that’s it. But people are finally recognizing the power of the home page and starting to think strategically about it.
Your home page will probably be the user’s first point of contact with you. It’s your chance to stand out and catch their attention. You want your most important content, your value proposition, and your call to action here. We often use a formula that looks something like this:
- Primary Call to Action (your attention grabber and a button to donate/sign up/buy now/whatever)
- Value Proposition (what positive improvements can you make to your audience’s life)
- Services (elaborate on that value)
- Address Obstacles to Conversion (what concerns might prevent people from continuing on)
- Social Proof (testimonials or key results)
- Secondary Call(s) to Action (either a secondary call to action or reiterate the top one so they don’t need to scroll all the way back up)
This page is pretty straightforward. What is your purpose, why is this site here, and what is it that you want people to do? Products are easy — you’ve got a couple of options for sales pages and shopping carts, but everyone knows what to expect. Services can be trickier.
Skipping the header and footer, an outline for a service page could be:
- The problem (what is your audience struggling with)
- The solution (what you propose to do about it)
- The results (the value it will give them)
- Testimonials (social proof that it’s already contributed value to others)
- Call to action (always!)
An about page might not seem essential, but it is for a couple of reasons:
- It’s expected
- People visit this page when they’re not sure about you and need more information
- People buy from people, not corporations
It’s rare that we visit websites that don’t have some sort of mission statement or “meet our team” or something. It gives your site a more personal touch, which is important for the second reason listed above.
Obviously, people do sometimes buy from corporations. We like our brand names, after all. But especially for service-based businesses or shopping locally, we want to know who we’re buying from. We don’t just want a good product; we want to enjoy the experience. Without a little preview of the person we’ll be working with, we can’t know if it will be fun or horrendous and people want to know they’ll be getting a return on their investment.
For a small business or solopreneur, the about page could look like this:
- Origin Story (hook to get them interested)
- Mission (how that origin story grew into the business)
- About (personal details or what people can expect from working with you)
- Call to Action (always!)
For a nonprofit, we’d tweak it just a bit:
- Origin Story (hook to get them interested)
- Mission (how that origin story grew into the nonprofit)
- Our Stories (people who have been helped, possibly board members and volunteers)
- Call to Action (always!)
Contact information is so essential that we typically include email, phone numbers, and sometimes the contact form in the design of the site. Why have a separate contact page if that information is in the footer as well? It’s not always necessary, but it’s helpful if your organization offers consultations, quote requests, or anything more complex than simple contact information.
Even product-based businesses who don’t need to interact with their clients to make a sale can benefit from easy to find contact information on a contact page. Customers need to be able to reach someone if they have questions or else they will take that sale somewhere else.
Page elements to consider:
- Google Map (if you’ve got a physical location)
- Contact Form
- Contact Information
- Expectations (how long will it take to respond and/or what to expect from consultations/quote requests)
Things to include:
- Who is collecting their information (company name, what you do)
- Explanation of how their information is collected & used (contact forms, blog comments, mailing lists, etc)
- Explanation of cookies
- Security — how are you keeping their information secure (SSL, etc)
- Your user’s rights (they can contact you at any time to view, update, or revoke your access to their data)
While templates are available online, we always advise consulting with a lawyer to help you create something official.
Terms and Conditions/Liability Statement
This would be the place where you’d tell users that your content is copyrighted, whether they’re allowed to use it and in what capacity, and that little legal statement that says you can’t be held accountable for any actions they choose to take with the information on your website. Lawyers do this really well, “I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer.”
Optional Website Content Ideas
You have a little more leeway here and can pick and choose what you think will best suit your users. Some of these could be standalone pages and some might fit well within the pages we already outlined.
Do you get a lot of the same questions from clients or potential clients? Make an FAQ page! People might not read it, but if they do, that saves both of you time. We, personally, use FAQ pages frequently on shopping sites when we want to know about return policies. Quick tip: don’t fill your FAQ page with fluffy questions just to make you look good. Customers can tell the difference between real information and promotion, and it reflects poorly on you. Some additional tips for FAQ page best practices.
Industry History or Jargon
It’s best to avoid industry-specific phrases or jargon if possible, but it’s inevitable that we’ll slip up or have specific phrases that there’s no good substitute for. This is where a mini dictionary could come in handy. You could also use this as a place to explain obscure things about your industry or how your industry got started. Anything you think could be useful for your readers! Not to mention being an SEO goldmine.
You need a sitemap for the search engines, but why not make things easier for your readers and make one for human eyes as well?
A process page works best for service-based industries, where it’s convenient for clients to get a sneak peek of what it’s like to work with you. This can include an example project or a list of the steps you usually take.
Testimonials are such an important part of the conversion process! We all like to know that someone has tried, and liked, something before we purchase. Testimonials are a reassurance that this person knows what they’re doing and that other people have enjoyed working with them. You can have a testimonial page, but we think it’s more effective to sprinkle them throughout your site in relevant places like the services or products page.
Side note: Did you know that testimonials are more effective when there are some negative ones? This is because we don’t trust products with only positive reviews (we think they’re potentially fake) AND because reading a negative review that doesn’t apply to us reassures us that the rest of the features are what we need.
This could come in a lot of formats. You could write educational articles, provide tips, share recipes, or even post company news. A blog is great for your SEO because it means fresh content and keeps the search engines interested, but it’s also a place to connect with your target audience. We recommend blogging to everyone, but with one caveat: if you’re not actually using an SEO tool like Yoast, blogging semi-regularly, and following some sort of keyword strategy, you won’t get much benefit from your blog. Blogs are a lot of work!
Policies or Procedures
Other policies you might want to include: If you’re selling retail, what’s your return policy? Is there a money-back guarantee? If you’re a service-based business, how do you handle liability? What’s in your contract? This could really be anything, but if you have any industry-specific policies that your customers should know about, include this. Both for their education and to CYA in case of any legal issues later on.