When we talk about content marketing, we’re usually talking about the ‘sexy’ stuff like beautiful blogs, interesting infographics, and amazing articles. What we tend to overlook is the “non-selling” content we have to include on our website. These are items such as boilerplate pages, image ALT tags, product snippets, etc. These bits of content that are scattered around your website are just as important as the alliterative examples I mentioned above.

Even though many of us think tweaking this type of content is busy work, it’s really one of the first places you should focus your content efforts. Truly, why bother bringing in the visitors with content marketing if your site isn’t ready for them? Additionally, this “minor” content should be monitored closely and revisited as necessary. Now, “as necessary” is a pretty vague term. What makes revisiting boilerplate content necessary? Several things. It could be a drop in search engine traffic, sub-optimal conversion rates, a high bounce rate (visitors who visit a single page and then leave your website), a change to your terms of service, etc.

Cultivate a Culture of Continuous Content Improvement

The watchwords when it comes to on-site content tweaking and development are ‘continuous improvement.’ For example, on our corporate website, we adjust our on-site content on an almost daily basis. Sometimes it’s just stylistic changes to improve consistency and sometimes it involves breaking up or consolidating entire sections. The goal is to improve the visitor experience. True, this method does require a certain amount of time, but adopting this continuous improvement philosophy will make your website’s content stronger in the long run. This in turn will drive visitor engagement, trust, and conversion.

Tip #1: Watch the Little Stuff

When rushing to fill the pages of your site with interesting and compelling copy, it’s easy to overlook the little stuff. By little stuff I mean things like page footers that contain contact information, sub-heads that label widget boxes, navigational links, the pre-fill information in forms, category headers, etc. Individually, none of these copy snippets have a serious impact on SEO or even usability, but it if you’ve polished these little bits of copy it conveys a certain amount of credibility to prospects who are visiting your site. What you’re looking to improve is usability, consistency, overall quality, and the placement of content.

Tip #2: Create Substantive Content

If you manage a particularly large site or an e-commerce site, it’s tempting to rush through the content creation process by either putting thin content on each page, using canned copy from your supplier, or creating easily duplicated “find and replace” copy. Here are the issues with that type of content:

Thin Content – Thin content is defined as a page that has little to no actual content on it. A product page that has a single sentence describing the product is one of the best examples. The problem with thin content is that it gives little for search engines to grab onto and the page can be discounted in search. Worse, it can cause a prospect to bounce off your site in an effort to find more information.

Duplicate Content – If you use canned copy from a supplier, the search engines may assign your pages a duplicate content penalty. Also, duplicate copy does little to serve a potential customer. If the customer can find the exact same information on your site as they can on any of a thousand other sites, your pages will have to work even harder to make the conversion.

“Find and Replace” Content – “Find and replace” paragraphs bridge the gap between thin content and duplicate content. Even though unique to your site, this type of content tends to be both thin and essentially duplicated from page to page. I often see this type of content used on geographically defined pages where the website is attempting to create content for many different states or cities.

Ideally, each page of your website will have substantive content that is unique to your site.

Tip #3: Be Aware of ‘Behind the Scenes’ Content

How many times have you visited a company website and the home page was title “Untitled” or “Home Page?” This title is one part of a whole litany of ‘behind the scenes’ pieces of content that help drive your website’s success. Other pieces of this content include the META description and keywords. META keywords are optional and many SEOs now suggest you don’t bother them with them at all. The META description, while no longer a ranking factor unto itself, is still picked up and displayed in search engine results. Other ‘behind the scenes’ pieces of content include assigning images ALT tags that describe the content of the images and giving links title tags that describe the link’s destination. Addressing these issues is often an ongoing project, since they are easy to overlook and may change regularly as your site — and your strategy — grows and evolves.

Tip #4: Give Boilerplate Pages Some Love

Boilerplate pages are easy to forget about during the content creation process. Boilerplate pages are pages on your site that must be present but are not selling pages. Samples include your privacy policy, terms of service, general contact pages, about us pages, and your 404 (page not found) page. Out of those, the 404 page is perhaps the most ignored, which has always struck me as odd. If the visitor lands on a 404 page there’s a pretty good chance they will exit your site. However, you have the ability to customize your 404 to decrease the likelihood of that happening. 404 pages can be made to be informative  by adding search results, a site map, or a feature product. Some companies go with making their 404 page entertaining by including creative copy, imagery, or videos. Both can help salvage a bad click.

Bonus Idea: The Typo Bounty

A company I worked for years ago offered a bounty on any errors that employees found on the website. The website in question featured only a dozen or so products and did not include a blog or other large content portal. With that small of a site, a $5 reward per typo, misprint, or broken link went a long way to producing an error free website. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, shouldn’t employees be doing that anyway?” They should, but think about the last time you visited some of the more obscure pages on your website. Also, offering a bounty is an inexpensive way to get your website reviewed from top to bottom by people who are not closely involved with the production or maintenance of the site.