Back in 2014, I originally published this post. I had been already working in website design and SEO for ten years and I was painfully aware of the need for digestible content.
In the last six months, my husband Jason has been digging into the genetics of alpacas (we’re alpaca farmers) and his world has been filled with terminology that includes words like alleles, genotype, phenotype, and DNA sequencing. As he learns more, he wants to share this knowledge with the alpaca community. He struggles with being able to articulate what he has learned in a digestible manner. He uses me as a test to see if his verbiage, explanations, and diagrams are digestible by the average alpaca owner. It’s a struggle because of the scientific nature of this subject matter.
Jason feels frustrated in this quest, but in reality, he is doing so much better than the average marketer or website owner. He is hyper-focused on his target market, their existing knowledge, and their ability to digest scientific information. And that is half the battle!
I’m confident in his ability to make everything he has learned digestible for the masses. And I hope I can take this experience and further apply it to the digital side of my life in website creation and SEO.
Below is the original content I published back in 2014. All of it still holds true and it is just as important as it was then. Take the time to watch the video and listen carefully to what Matt Cutts explains. Matt may be missed after this departure from Google, but his wisdom is still worth it’s weight in gold.
Sheldon and Penny
If you’ve ever watched The Big Bang Theory, you’ve probably laughed at the scenes involving ongoing dialogue between Sheldon and Penny. PhD Sheldon talking to Cheesecake Factory waitress Penny is just plain funny. It’s funny because they are in no way communicating on the same level and because there is a complete mismatch of education levels and comprehension. It’s funny because it’s TV and it is designed to entertain us.
The communication breakdown between Sheldon and Penny isn’t just comedy. It exists in our real-world lives and we see it around us every day. I see it on corporate websites and when this happens, it is anything but humorous.
Writing Website Content is Difficult
Writing website content isn’t for everyone and it certainly isn’t something you throw as a to-do item for the summer intern. Sheldon and Penny are a great example of why this is the case.
If you are a company that sells products and services to other companies, you’ve possibly fallen into the content trap of mismatch dialogue for your visitors. I generally see one of three routes companies take when creating their website content:
- PhD Written Content – Companies tend to hand the task of content creation over to the smartest person in the company. The idea here is that the smartest person will know the most about the product or service offering and thus will provide endless amounts of valuable information. The problem with this idea is that the smartest person in the company is horrible at writing web content. Particularly the company’s product or service pages. This is because he is the only one who can understand and digest what he writes. Overly smart people (yes I’m talking to you Dr. Sheldon Cooper) cannot write for real people such as Penny or even in some cases Howard. If you request the resident PhD to write content, you need to “dumb it down” so average people can read and digest it.
- Intern Written Content – Another route I see is a firm assigning the task to an intern or administrative assistant. While these individuals can write content that average people can read and digest, they do not know the benefits and solutions provided by a company’s product or service offering. These individuals may and may not be smart, but this isn’t the issue. The issue lies in exposure. This type of person is not inside the company’s activity enough to clearly explain why a product or service is an ideal solution for a given type of customer. There simply isn’t enough substance to the content because this individual doesn’t have access to enough data to know how the product or service relates to real-world scenarios.
- Status Quo – The last, and albeit worse route, is leaving the content in its current state. Website content that was written five years ago doesn’t entice the search engines and it certainly doesn’t wow visitors. Fresh content is critical and no matter how hard it may be to write website content, it is worth every minute spent on the task.
If you and your company are considering launching a new website or rebranding the current website, take the time to plan for and write solid website content.
It’s so important, Google’s Matt Cutts even covered this topic in a recent video.
If You Can, Create a Marriage Between Sheldon and Penny
If you have a PhD in house, have him write content, but give it to someone else to proof and reword so the average person can read it. It’s good for your visitor and it’s good for SEO.
We literally did this at the ERP software company I worked for years ago. Our president was a PhD in astrophysics and he was wicked smart. He knew our product inside and out and no one could touch his knowledge of our customer base. He also wrote like a PhD and no one could read it. I would rewrite or “dumb down” his proposed website content so normal people could read it.
And guess what happened? Once we did this, visitor retention improved, website conversations went up, more leads came in, and sales revenue increased. Writing content for the visitor produces results.
Great points, and you’re right. Need to unite the knowledge with approachable language. Using two people to make it happen is a great idea–finding one person who can handle both is a bit like a unicorn hunt.
Rebecca Gill says
Robin I LOVE the unicorn analogy. Just perfect!
Hi Rebecca – I love these points, so true! One other approach to content I have seen (especially at consulting firms) is “let’s give it to whoever is “on the bench” (i.e. not busy at the moment).” People who don’t know how to write for the web are pressed into service, and the company’s content suffers from inconsistent voices.
Rebecca Gill says
Good point! That is when content starts to take six months. Throwing content creation at someone who cannot write or is uncomfortable with it, is always the path to launch delays.
Alexandra Nicola says
Sometimes finding the right way to build up content might be hard too. It’s exactly the same. Some people write it with to many details and terms from that niche’s jargon and other make it sound like they don’t know anything about the field.
Loved the article.
Rosendo Cuyasen says
Yes this is right. Writing content that Matt Cutts have shared in his video was simple and direct. Write content that can help readers can easily be taught about the matters. Thank you for sharing this Rebecca.
Altaf Gilani says
I am totally agreeable with Rebecca.As google wants fresh and latest knowledge contents with uniqueness it is very important content writer have extreme knowledge of our website and our products.Thanks for sharing!