Content marketers: Your role is to make it easier for searchers to find what they want on a web site. Here’s a simple way to do it.
Do you remember the concept of portal pages, web pages that served as entries to all the content on a site? They were superseded by site maps (not the XML maps used to guide search bots, actual text links to every page on a site, in context), a web feature I feel was underutilized. But I realized recently that there is a potentially better way to help visitors zero in on the content they need at that point in time. I call them ‘at-a-glance’ pages. Here is an example I recently did for a client that is drawing quite a bit of traffic for the few days it has been up.
Yes, I know long posts are better…
I’ve written about cornerstone or keystone content is designed to rank for the most popular keyword phrases that SEO dogma basically says not to bother with. These are lengthy articles that explain a broad product or service offering with many links to tactical content pieces about each area a company covers. They serve as a form of portal that uses a story to convey a sense about a company’s core strengths and culture. At-a-glance pages are an abbreviated version of the same concept. They work on based on how we consume web content, especially on mobile devices: we scan.
Skim through and grab the information you are looking for, at this moment in time
The at-a-glance article is an introductory paragraph and a series of bullet points containing basic facts about a company, product, or service offering. Each bullet is supported by a link or links to content that goes into more detail about the area covered in the bullet. There are three emotional and factual areas that the piece should convey:
- Information. Buyer research today requires a full set of information that is easily accessed and is low on hype.
- Reputation. Are these guys legit? What do people say about them? Who have they worked with? How long have they been in this business?
- People and Culture. If I buy from them, what will my experience be like? Will it reflect positively on me personally, at work (remember, even corporate buying decisions are ultimately personal for the employee making a recommendation)? Is this company interesting?
Keep it concise and informal
In my example above, I talk the way someone would who was giving a quick overview of their company to a stranger. More than an elevator speech but less than a profile. And it is conversational, not formal business-speak, a cardinal sin in my view. Write like a human, not an MBA strategy course.
Where to put this content
Look at your site analytics, particularly behavior flow. Where are people going first, beyond your Home page? In my example it is the About page and that’s where I link to the at-a-glance post. You could also put it in your footer so it is reachable from every page on your site.
I made my at-a-glance ‘sticky’, a setting in WordPress that keeps it at the top of the general Blog home page. I rotate sticky content out every quarter as I test various cornerstone tactics like the at-a-glance page. I also asked all the company employees to put the link in their email signature and provided them with a simple graphic link they can drop in (this is a great tactic for promoting any kind of content, especially explainer videos). Even a small company generates a ton of outgoing email that targets an audience that is already connected to the business. Current customers are always your best source of future business!
Sometimes simple is simply better
As a writer I typically prefer longer, more in-depth content. I’m not alone in that but there are times when I need a snapshot of a company or site that I think may be what I’m looking for. I used to rely on site maps and FAQ pages for this but they have fallen out of favor, or, in the case of FAQ, become too detailed as companies try to use them as customer support tools. The informal at-a-glance approach gives a searcher, a friendly, fast way to find information quickly within a site.