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The Importance of Good Website Content

26 Feb, 2008 By: Darrell Amy imageSource

The Importance of Good Website Content

Very few of your clients will ever visit your dealership. However, virtually
all of your current (and potential) clients will visit your website.

Now, more than ever, your website plays a critical role in your dealership. A
website can make a small company look big and a big company look small. A
website can also make a smart company look not-so-smart. Or it can make a
company that is new in a business segment look like old pros. The world of the
web continues to evolve. What was cool five or ten years ago now looks out of
date. And what used to work to get you top rankings in the search engines (see
last month’s article on “The New Yellow Pages”) now is different.

Given the importance of websites and the fact that the web is evolving, it
may be time to reevaluate your web strategy. In this article, we will explore
the critical factor that is overlooked in most websites and present a strategy
to make sure version 2.0 of your dealership’s website makes a big impact.

The Three Components of a Website

Design: Are You Professional? -
When most people think about websites, the
first thing they think about is design. Initial versions of a dealer website are
primarily focused on good design. This was natural since most web designers come
from a graphic design background. Good graphic design helps clients feel
comfortable about your professionalism.

Functionality: What Can I Do? - The next thing is functionality--what
can you do on the site? Can visitors easily request information? Can they find
product information without leaving your website to stumble upon your
manufacturer’s “locate a reseller” pages? Can you place service calls, order
supplies or enter meter readings? In today’s web-based world, great customer
service is often defined by not having to place a phone call. Providing online
functionality to your clients helps deliver on your promise of excellent
customer service, while providing an avenue to reduce costs and streamline

Content: Are You Credible? - The last (and most often overlooked)
aspect of the site is the content--what does the site communicate? Does the
content on the site support your sales message? Do potential clients get the
impression that you know what you are talking about--especially in new business
areas like managed print services or document solutions?

In the rush to deploy a new website, content can tend to get buried under the
pressing concerns of design and functionality. Most graphic designers or web
programmers don’t know anything about your sales process or your core product
and solutions offerings. Web hosting companies are in the same situation: they
provide great web hosting and catalog platforms, but do not provide relevant
content. While they can make great looking websites or generate amazing
functionality, the content of the site remains thin. If the designers and
programmers don’t provide the content, then it is typically up to someone at the
dealership to write the content. The challenge is that sales-focused people at
the dealership are focused on sales and don’t have the time. Plus, many of them
are not experienced at writing on the web. As a result, many dealership websites
end up with thin content. This can be a big problem.

As overly-motivated parents of a soon-to-be four year old, my wife and I
recently started investigating school options in the city where we live. Like
everything you want to know about now-a-days, my wife’s search began online in
Google. She pulled up websites for the local school district as well as several
private schools. She wanted to get a feel to see if these organizations are up
to the task of educating our brilliant and advanced youngster. While she was
doing this research, I began to think to myself, “What if these schools
(especially the expensive private ones) had not given much thought to their web
presence? What if they had delegated their core messaging and only first
impression to a local graphics firm or to an IT person? What if the content did
not accurately reflect how great the school was? Could it be that a potential
student could write off the school based on the web content?”

The fact is that the content on these sites and your dealership website is
critical. The first reason is the obvious one: your website is often the main
impression your potential clients get of your company’s credibility. The second
is less obvious: your website is the way search engines like Google determine if
you are worth a high rank listing. Let’s explore both:

Your Credibility With Prospective - Clients, when it comes to copiers,
chances are your market knows and respects your dealership as a great place to
get a copier. However, you may not enjoy that same level of trust when it comes
to newer business initiatives like print management, document solutions and even
color. The client that trusts you for copiers may be skeptical about your
ability to deliver these advanced solutions. If you could quantify the lost (or
“no decision”) solution sales due to poor web content, the number would be
staggering. Here’s what happens. A rep talks to the client about document
management. They have a good meeting and the client is interested. After the rep
leaves, the client hits your website. After browsing through several sections,
they finally find a small page with two paragraphs on document management and a
link to a brochure. The rest of the site is about copiers. They get a sick
feeling in their stomach. They don’t return the sales rep’s phone call because
they are nervous about your ability to deliver. So how do you build that
credibility? One practical strategy: provide content on your website that makes
you an expert. Go deep with the information. Will the client read all of it?
Most of them probably won’t. But they will see that you have something to say on
the subject. Those that do read the content will learn that you know what you’re
talking about. Either way, you build your credibility.

Search Engine Rankings - The most common readers of your website are
the major search engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN. Every time you change the
content on your site, they have to “crawl” through your pages to index all of
the information. When people in your local market search for information on a
topic like copiers or document management, the search engine wants to return
good results. They reason that the sites that have been updated most recently
and most often probably have the best information. Search engines tend to return
search results for sites that are regularly updated. So, if you haven’t touched
your site in three years and your competitor refreshes their content every week,
you are going to end up lower in the free search results. (You can also get
priority in the sponsored search results. See last month’s article, “The New
Yellow Pages” for more information on Pay-Per-Click Advertising). So, are you
saying that we should update our website every month? No, I’m saying that you
should put new content on your website at least once a week, if not once a day.
Each time you do this, the search engines have to index your site.

How do you put new content on the site? This is where blogging comes in. A blog
(weblog) is an informal way to add content to your site. Example: When my sister
started doing a blog about the funny stories of raising her kids a few years
ago, I found it hard to see the business application. However, when my wife’s
best friend told me that 16,000 people read her blog about creating craft
projects at home, she had my attention. Finally, when our Chief Web Architect
showed me how his website was getting better search engine placement than eBay
and Amazon, he had my attention. You see, it doesn’t matter if anyone reads your
blog, even though you’ll be surprised at the IT people who do. The most
important readers of your blog are the search engines. More on this; keep

Content is Hard to Create

So now we get to the tough reality: content is hard to create. It is time
consuming. It takes someone who is very knowledgeable about your dealership and
the industry. It requires someone who can write. With that in mind, here is what
you want to make sure is included on your site:

When it comes to the content of your main website, there are a few main

Supports the Sales Process- Your web content should support your sales
process. When someone talks to a rep and then visits your site, it should be a
seamless experience. Similarly, when someone checks out your site before a sales
call, it should tee the ball up.

Supports New Business Initiatives- If your web content is positioned
appropriately, current and potential clients should be asking you about new
solutions like print management and document management. When these items are
prominently displayed on your website and backed with enough depth of content to
prove you are an expert, your clients will ask their sales reps.

Shows You Understand the Client’s Problems- Web content should be written
from the reader’s perspective.You want to capture the clients’ attention. So,
think about what is important to them and frame your content around common
business problems and goals and show them how you can help them achieve these

Positions Yourself As the Expert - The content on your site should go
into enough detail to prove that you really know what you are talking about.
While you should certainly follow the rule that the initial pages of the site
should not have too much content, as you drill down in your site you should find
more and more content on each page. Even if clients don’t read this, they see
that you have a lot to say on the subject.

Creating Blog Content - Large companies like HP now have many of their
mid-level executives blogging on a regular basis. Their postings are on topics
that they have encountered recently. When we are posting weekly or daily content
to our dealer clients’ blogs with our Search Engine Optimization Service, the
topics include:

-- Articles from their dealership newsletter

-- Opinion articles on document management, workflow, color and print management

-- Press releases and case studies from OEMs and solutions vendors

-- Local case studies

As you write blog content, keep in mind the same guidelines for general web
content. You blog should position you as an expert and show you understand your
clients’ business problems. Blogging is much less formal than copy for your
regular website. So, you can be much more conversational in these postings. The
important thing about blogs is that you update them regularly.

Developing a Content Strategy

There are several key items to consider when developing a web content strategy
for your dealership site:

Choose the Right Platform - A Content Management System The first order
of business is to make sure your site is on a platform that includes blogging.
You could set up a separate blog at a free blogging service like blogger.com,
but the search engines would be indexing your blog instead of your website. So
the best bet is to put your site on a platform that supports blogs. A Content
Management System is a platform to deploy a website that supports web 2.0
applications like blogging. These systems allow you to post a website and a blog
all on the same stage. They also make it easy to edit web content with a
standard web browser. And, they allow you to develop other useful applications
like corporate intranets, searchable service knowledge bases, purchasing portals
and product catalogs. The good news: many of these platforms are available for
free as open source CMS platforms like Drupal and Joomla. Other platforms like
WordPress and OpenText are dedicated to facilitating blogs only. Developed as
collaborative projects by computer programmers in their free time, these open
source systems are stable and continually updated. Some of the world’s largest
companies host websites on these platforms. Many dealer websites are not
deployed on CMS platforms. Our recommendation is to make sure your next website
refresh is done on a CMS platform. Alternatively, consider implementing a
blogging platform like WordPress in your current site.

Go Deep with Content - Make sure to go deep with content. As we are
writing content for our clients, sometimes the question arises: “Will people
read all of this.” The answer is the same as above. Some will. Some will just
skim the headers to see that you are smart. But most importantly, the search
engines will categorize all of this in their indexes. Our recommendation is to
add more content to your website.

Use Blogging to Update Your Site Weekly or Daily - If you are
disappointed with your rankings in search engines, the best way to ease your
pain is to start blogging. It is a great way to share your knowledge with the
world. It will prove to Google, Yahoo and MSN that you are worthy of top
rankings. Plus, some of your clients will read your blog. If you don’t have time
do to this, consider outsourcing to someone who can help. Our recommendation is
to start a blog as soon as possible and update it regularly.

Your website is more important now than it has even been. And its importance
will only continue to grow. As you start 2008, resolve to make sure your web
content supports your new sales efforts, positions your dealership as the expert
and convinces Google to put you near the top.

Darrell Amy (President) and Corey Smith, Chief Web Architect and author of
the www.masterthebusiness.com are
with Dealer Marketing Systems, a managed marketing services firm providing
website design and search engine optimization services to document solutions
resellers. You can reach them at
or 214-224-0050.

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