Your website needs a blog, right?

As featured in Furniture Today – There’s no shortage of talk about the importance of adding “fresh, unique content” to your website. But for every marketer who expounds this seemingly critical component, there’s a retailer rolling his or her eyes while thinking, “How will I find the time to do that and what will I even write about?”
We’ll take a look at what content is, how you find the time to create it, and why content is meaningful — if it even is meaningful.

First, what is “unique content?” In the context of your store’s website and online persona, content is simply information conveyed in text, sound, pictures or video. In theory, said content will have meaning and be helpful to the viewers of your site. It should provide advice, entertainment or education.

In some cases, the content on its own is interesting enough to grab people’s attention and hold it long enough for others to be willing to pay to be included in that content; think of TV shows. Creating this type of engaging content is immensely difficult — which is why Hollywood writers get paid big bucks.

But for most furniture retailers, that’s not the most important function of fresh content.
For most stores, customers aren’t visiting your website regularly to see what new and interesting content you’ve created. What’s the point then?

Why add content?

There are a few valid reasons a retailer should be adding content to their website. As mentioned previously, if you’re a gifted writer, perhaps you can create content so engaging that it alone will draw repeat visitors to your website. And we all know attracting more visitors to your website is the goal. But if you’re not Harper Lee, there’s still an important reason to add new content — Google.

The infamous algorithms of Google are constantly searching the web for more relevant information. The more information your website contains, the more likely it is to be seen as a valuable source for Google to present to people searching for the items and services you offer online. And Google, being in effect a machine, doesn’t itself discern between well-crafted prose and simply words on a “page.” Google relies on its users to declare the value of your content, and it comes to that conclusion by assigning a value to the amount of time those users spend on your site. The longer they linger, Google assumes, the more valuable your content must be, and the higher your website should be placed in the search results.

Here are the rubs — most of us don’t have the time, or perhaps skill, to compose captivating literature, and searchers don’t have the patience or inclination to read through our babbling. So, what should you do?

Out-write your competitors

The bright side is that, in most cases, you don’t have to out-compose wordsmiths; you just have to out-write your competitors. The competitors near you aren’t likely capturing the undivided attention of searchers either. Thus, Google isn’t necessarily comparing your content with the content on The New York Times website; it’s comparing yours with the content on the sites of the stores around you. All you have to do to win is create more meaningful content than them, and they have just as little time as you. How do you do that quickly and easily?

How do you create more meaningful content?

Rely on your salespeople and delivery crew. Ask them to send you a text, short and sweet, with the following information from the customer:
1. City
2. Problem
3. How you solved the problem
4. Picture of the item
5. Item number
An example could look something like this: “Mrs. J. from Albany, NY needed a sleeper for guests coming this weekend. We had four in stock and delivered the ABC123 from Super Vendor to her on Saturday. Here’s a picture.”

Then you copy and paste that short snippet to your website, and Facebook and Instagram, too, while you’re online. It took nearly no time from you while accomplishing several objectives for increasing the value of your website content. You’ve listed a city where you deliver, you’ve listed a category of item you sell, you’ve let shoppers know you have items in stock, you’ve listed a specific item number and brand name in case they already know what they’re searching for, and you’ve kept it short enough to not lose shoppers’ attention — all while feeding Google new, exclusive content. This is much more valuable for your Search Engine Optimization than dropping a list of cities you deliver to in the fine print on the bottom of your home page, which stays there forever, becoming stale. And much more effective than the product description you uploaded from your supplier’s catalog that’s identical to all the other descriptions of that product around the internet. It’s also more personal to your store than syndicated content that can be purchased from a writer. All these points will promote a favorable opinion of your website by Google’s algorithm.

While you might post this in the Blog section of your website, consider it a short Case Study rather than a blog post, and rid yourself of the anxiety accompanied by the thought of having to write an essay each week. To encourage buy-in from your staff, consider rewarding them with a small spiff for each piece of content, or have a contest for the most posts submitted each month. In the end, any content you post is infinitely more valuable than the content you don’t post.

You don’t necessarily need a “Blog” per se, but you will be rewarded by adding original content to your online presence as frequently as possible.

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