Is your News page a load of fluff or does it engage and inspire your visitors?
Do you really need a News page? Is it something that’s just there to pad out the content? Do your visitors really care? Purpose and content is what will make your News work for you. You need to engage with users, inspire and grab them.
Think about what a visitor comes to your site for. The chances are it’s not to read about some dry subject churned out for the sake of writing something. If your site promotes a product the chances are people will come to your site to find out more about that product and hopefully make a purchase. If you’re promoting a service, they’ll look for information about that service and hopefully convert into a customer. In either of these scenarios does News play a key role? In the majority of sites it seems not. Don’t get me wrong, in some cases well written and considered News can be a hit. Perhaps even people just seeing fresh content is enough, even if they don’t click on it to read more.
News pages can be carefully crafted and help out with bigging’ up a product or service but more often than not if you visit a News page you’ll find a graveyard of press releases or one paragraph snippets which add little value. Often the posts will lack inspiration, creativity and don’t explain the benefits to the visitor.
If your website is promoting something, then you should be targeting any questions they might have about your product or service from the off. Quite often though, News will not be as direct as the rest of the site which has a specific focus.
It could be about time you rethink your News page. Dive into your analytics and see if your News is working for you. Perhaps even try some tests to see if you get a psychological gain from just having fresh content around. If your current strategy is to write News to assist in search engine rankings, bait links and support sales all at the same time then the posts are probably stuffed with keywords and confusing terminology and it quickly turns into the graveyard we touched on earlier. Start writing content for your visitors and their needs rather than the current search engine algorithm. Genuine content will prevail.
Mix up your content. Try using video, links, quotes and galleries rather than just text to engage the visitor.
Put on the shoes of your visitors, not all at once, and try to work out what they would want to hear from a News post rather than what you would like to tell them. If you can work out what your visitors care about then you can start to shape the News section into a brighter place. With this new target in the crosshairs you can then ask yourself how you can compile content that not only will they want to read, but content they’ll want to share.
With the sharing in mind, try to come up with summaries that people can take away with them, summaries that could quickly sum up what you’re getting at and might be used when sharing on social media.
Lead out with an action. Often News posts just end with no clear path for the visitor to take. You can shape your takeaway into an action for the user. This action might not be as obvious as buy our products but perhaps it might be an action away from your site. Let’s say you’re selling a cupboard organiser—get your visitor to go check how much out of date rubbish is stuck at the back of the cupboard from last Easter.
Write for humans, not for the boss, the sake of it, or search engines. To some extent.