By Mike Becvar
I am Mike Becvar, aka Sir Toony Van Dukes. I am a web developer by day and a clown, face painter, and balloon twister on the weekends. In this article, I will give pointers on writing content that will help your customers find your website when searching for entertainers on one of the major search engines like Google. There is a whole industry dedicated to Search Engine Optimization (or SEO). Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of your website in search engines in the search results. Although you can hire someone to help optimize your website, there is a lot you can do on your own to make the information on your website work for you to attract customers to your website and ultimately book you for their events.
A critical aspect of website design is the content because it is the content that drives your potential customers to your website, and it is what keeps them interested in what your website has to offer. Additionally, effective web content can compel customers to take action and ask to book you for their events. Generally speaking, website content is what you have on your website. It can be description of your services, news, articles, blog entries, pictures or videos (and the captions), or links to interesting or entertaining resources.
Let’s look at how website content can help drive customers to your website. If a mom from Springfield is looking for a clown to come to her son’s birthday party, she will likely go to a search site like Google and type something like “Springfield clown” or “birthday party in Springfield”. Google will return several results and the mom will likely visit one of the top ten websites in the list. If you are a clown in Springfield, you want your website to be one of the first few websites listed by Google. It is the content on your website that Google uses to determine where your website ranks for any given search.
Google uses special programs to “crawl” the Internet and copy content to its database while following the links from page to page. It uses a formula to index and rank the content so that when someone searches the Internet for “Springfield clown” it can present a list of the most relevant websites. Although Google will not give out details of its formula, most people who develop websites agree that the page ranking system Google and the other major search engines use is based on the quality of the content, the keywords, the links both to and from the website, and the frequency of updates to the website. Some people think also that Google will ignore websites or pages with less than 250 words or with content that is copied directly from other websites. Note: Although highly graphical or Flash-based websites look great, Google and the other search engines cannot index any content that is presented with graphics.
Quality of Content
You can improve your rank in Google’s search results by writing quality content that has very few spelling or grammar errors. If you write your own content, make sure you use a spell checker. Better yet, ask someone else to review the content before posting it to your website.
Keywords are like a summary of the content on a website. The keywords for a clown’s website might include things like: clown, birthday, magic, face painting, and entertainment. Keywords may also include locations such as Springfield or Metropolis. They are also the terms that potential customers may use when they perform a search at Google. You can increase the number of keywords on your website by writing better descriptions of the services you offer and the locations you serve. The quality of your content is important so it is better to use full sentences instead of a list of keywords.
Links both to and from your website are also important. When another website places a link to your website from a page on their website, the major search engines regard that as a ‘vote-of-confidence’ which can improve your page rank. It is important to note, that using some of the link exchanges can actually hurt your page rank as the major search engines see some of them as “link farms” designed to sell ads. You should seek to have links from your local clown alley, other clowns, or the restaurants, festivals, and businesses you visit.
It is also important that your website includes links to other websites. You can increase your page rank by providing occasional links to other related web pages. A good way to include links is to tell about upcoming events and provide links to the event website. Another way is to include pictures from your trip to a clown convention and provide a link to the convention’s website.
Finally, it is important to keep the content of your website updated. The major search engines will give higher page ranks to websites with content that is updated on a regular basis. Many businesses build a website and forget about it. If a customer visits your website and sees that the last event, award, or other date mentioned was 2-3 years ago, they may wonder if you are still in business. Google also gives higher page ranks to pages that are updated on a regular basis. There are a few different ways to keep your website up to date. You can include a blog (or news page) on your website where you tell people about upcoming events, provide party planning tips, or post pictures from recent parades or clown conventions. You can have a page listing of upcoming appearances. Also, in your text, you can mention the upcoming season and remind people that you are available for their office Holiday party or summer picnics.
With all of that in mind, what content should you include on your website? Well, what services do you offer and what information will potential customers look for? Getting potential customers to your website is only half the battle. You still need to get them to take action and contact you about coming to their party or event. Pretend a customer just called and asked what you would do at her son’s birthday party. You would likely answer by giving the essential information about how you can help, and why you perfectly meet her needs, right? And I’m betting you’d want to explain it in the most compelling fashion you could, given what’s riding on the deal. Think of your website as needing to do the same thing. You need to use the website to tell your potential customers that you provide the services they are looking for and that you work close to them.
One way to get ideas is to look at other websites. Identify the things you like or do not like about their websites and incorporate the better ideas in your own website. While it is NOT polite to directly copy their text and definitely NOT appropriate to use their graphics, it is OK to get ideas from how they present the information.
Hopefully, this will get you started thinking about the content you put on your website.
Based on an article submitted to the Mid Atlantic Clown Association for publication in The Big Top.