It’s time to eat and you’re starving.
You know exactly what you want; thin crust pizza with enough cheese to satisfy any Green Bay fan and enough meat to satisfy two adult carnivores.
You order and wait for the result, salivating.
Opening the lid to the pizza box, you have very specific expectations as to what lies within. However. You’re greeted by a vast wasteland of overcooked crust and greasy cheese, broken up by a few chunks of meat that look like tiny boulders scattered among a desert.
Yes, technically, it is pizza.
The ingredients are all there. Crust, sauce, cheese. And a few morsels of edible meat can be found.
But it is not what you expected to find when you opened that box lid.
The same thing can happen when you visit a website for the first time, looking for and expecting to find what you are after.
In keeping in line with my pizza metaphor, let’s say you’re looking for pizza stones. You’ve Googled away and visited one of the websites listed.
What you find at that website are lovely graphics and brilliant colors, but the sustenance, the content, is rambling, keyword-stuffed verbiage focused on how great the company is and lacking any of the information you seek.
Yes, technically, it’s content.
The ingredients are all there. Words arranged on a page. Sentences that can be considered content. A few morsels of relevant information can be filtered out of the fluff.
But it is not what you expected to find when you clicked on the link to the website.
You don’t devour bad pizza or bad content. Depending upon how hungry and motivated you are, you will either pick around (the pizza or the page) in search of what you want, or you will just give up. Dump the pizza, leave the web page. You’ve learned your lesson – you won’t visit that website – or that pizza place –with your business again.
It’s no wonder people don’t read on the Web.
As a result of too much poor web content, people on the web have changed their habits and expectations. Instead of reading, they skim and scan because they have come to expect a relative wasteland of substance.
Within a large landscape of greasy, slippery cheese, they’re hunting for the morsels they came for.
So consequently, the reason many people say that nobody reads on the web is that it’s true. But only because they’ve been served bad web content one too many times.
In arguing the case for content over the years, I have learned that the content on most websites is not the most conscientiously and carefully crafted; in fact, it’s usually the opposite.
Pizza can be incredibly easy and cheap to make, but it takes time, skill, and attention to make a respectable, delicious pizza. So too with words: they are incredibly easy to make, but incredibly difficult to use well.
Content: The missing ingredient on most websites.
Just because websites (and pizza) are everywhere doesn’t mean you’re allowed to skimp on the ingredients. If you don’t put enough quality content into your pizza or your page, you will lose prospects, alienate customers, and create negative associations with your brand.
Words make the web work.
People go to a website because they expect information; they have a specific hunger that needs to be satisfied. If your content is able to communicate with a visitor, giving them what they seek and speaking to them in their language, your visitor will have no reason to leave your page, hit the back button, and go elsewhere. You will have yourself a happy, well-fed customer. And isn’t that why you have a website, to begin with?