When planning out content for a website, it’s often difficult to grasp how—let alone why—to build out so much content. What to write, how much, and why it matters are all valid questions, especially for those who haven’t been in the game for a while. Let’s address some of those common questions now:

What to write?

Think beyond the product, service, or immediate topic of your website. What broader ideas are attached to it? Is there a common theme? Make sure all of the content is relevant and has a point. Make it useful. Always keep in mind that you want your site to be a resource to users. That is, something full of valuable information that’s as easy as possible to access and use.

How much?

Generally speaking, the more content on the page the better. There is no hard limit, although think about what would be too much if you were on a webpage. Even if it contained lots of good information, would you rather scroll through a page endlessly or have the information broken up into smaller, more digestible chunks? At the same time, what would you think of a page with very little content? While the goals of each website and each web page are different, a good benchmark is 300-500 words per page minimum.

Organization and Layout

Even the most enthusiastic readers get intimidated by big blocks of text, so make sure your content is well-organized. Use headings, subheadings, images, and even whitespace to break up blocks of text in a logical way. For a lot of information, consider splitting it into separate pages.

Authority

Depending on your goals, you may want one page to carry most of the authority on a certain topic. One way to achieve this is to put all of the relevant content on that page, but this can get very clunky very fast. When you split information into separate pages, have the subsequent pages nested under the high-authority page. Now that page is the “parent” and the others are “children.” Make sure the children have links back to the “parent” page in their content as references. This will cite the parent page as the authority.

In the same way, linking out to other good resources shows that you yourself are a good resource. For example, if you’re writing a blog post about a new law, linking to credible news sources reporting about the issue as well as to official documents from a .gov website shows that you’ve done your homework.

Building it out

There is only so much you can say about a product or service, and I get it, no one wants to read a textbook or a commercial. But there are many options to make a page useful and even entertaining while building out relevant content, such as:

  • FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • Glossaries
  • Troubleshooting Guides
  • Walkthroughs
  • Don’t forget about downloadable resources like infographics, whitepapers, and ebooks!

Updates

Refreshing content is always a good signal that a website is alive and well, which is a small indicator of quality. But it’s not very practical to refresh page content every week, which is why blogging is a great tool.

Blogging allows fresh and relevant content to be added to a site on a regular basis. Not only is this a good signal to search engines, but each post is an asset that makes a small contribution to a website’s authority on a topic or theme. Plus, by being more focused, blog posts offer many chances to capture search traffic on much broader key phrases than web pages alone could reasonably do.

Why?

For more about how search engines think about content, take a look at this post on co-citation and co-occurrence and this one on how the Internet is organized.

TL;DR

Make your website into a valuable, usable resource. If a human would think it’s a good, easy-to-use resource, chances are a search engine will see it the same way.