Team Contributions, Case Studies

Come Original: Why Stock Content Is Useless On Your Website

Original content can be a tough concept to sell to non-marketers and people who are unfamiliar with the subtleties, value, and execution of a strong digital presence.

All photos courtesy

There can be such an incredible hyper-focus on SEO and conversion rates that the real purpose of your corporate website becomes lost in the numbers. You just need to have any old web page and to post something to your blog, right? Nope. Even though market data does back original content, the real value of creating original content is still much greater than organic rankings, although it helps with that, too.

First, let’s clarify what original content means. In this post, we’ll focus exclusively on websites over blogs and social media, although most of what is said here can be applied to those marketing channels, as well.

Focus on Who

Although creating original content is about the company, it’s really about your client. Before starting any new business, a prospective client first conducts an internet search and compares businesses. Your website will come up in the shuffle along with your competitors and this is the primary way you will be compared. Are you saying the same thing as your competitors? If so, then what sets you apart? What is the added value that you offer over your competition? And how do you communicate that through your website (if you do at all)?

Original content establishes a certain caliber, which is where you want to be to stand out. Stock images and videos, and poorly written, flat copy, are obvious and a judgement is made immediately. The business loses credibility due to poor presentation, especially among a more sophisticated clientele.

Come Original

Original content on a website means you work with a dedicated team consisting of digital marketers, designers, writers, and other creatives like photographers and video producers who get to understand who your business is and its brand identity, and express this clearly. As a team, you create original images, videos, and copy (written content) that is not copied from another website or taken from a stock content website.

The greatest value offered is that original content allows you to be authentic and use your own voice. What many people forget is that digital content is the same thing as talking to someone and describing who you are and what you do. The delivery method has just changed to it being online. Your website is the first impression that you make. Look at the images and words on your site now. If you were to sit down with a prospective client, would you say those words to them to sell yourself and make a genuine connection? Does the overall layout and design convey your brand? This aspect is similar to what you wear to a client meeting, the visual representation of who you are.

Original Content: A Case Study

Solid Digital worked with the eminent corporate board advisory firm JamesDruryPartners in Chicago to redesign the website in order to better showcase the firm and attract elite clients. For this project, custom photography was integral in expressing this prestigious brand.

I visited their office with a photographer and directed the shoot. Coming into their office really gave you a sense of who they are and the experience that they have.

“As a provider of a high-end service, we felt that only custom photography and video could accurately represent the essence of our firm. When visiting our website, we want a potential client to feel as if they have stepped into our office, and to be able to visualize what it would be like to work with us. Custom photography and video makes that possible.” — Jim Drury IV

This is something that would be impossible to achieve with stock photos. It is inherently impossible to represent your unique brand identity with images that hundreds of others are using. Likewise, it’s impossible to communicate a cohesive brand identity because stock content is all over the place.

Out With the Old

The previous website had generic graphics, images, and copy that did not represent who they are as a company. We aimed to showcase their personality and professionalism on the new site. I can recall walking into their office for the first time, meeting with their team and really getting an excellent feeling of trust. We wanted to demonstrate that as much as possible on the site. They are better now for it because when you visit their site, you are immediately greeted with that feeling I received when I first went there – through imagery, video, and copy.

Back to the Drawing Board

The best feature of a website redesign is the opportunity to start from scratch. Instead of making little tweaks and trying to piece together a Frankenstein website, a website redesign allows you to go back to the drawing board and ask the fundamental questions that form brand identity. Who are we as a company? What are our values? How do we best communicate that? Who is the audience?

The target audience is important to keep in mind. We tend to get hung up on website data – how many people came to my site? How many clicks? Although analytics are a key component in creating and maintaining a digital marketing plan, don’t overlook quality over quantity. Yes, we want more people to visit your site and click the links, but what is ultimately important is that you’re attracting the right clientele. This goes back to achieving a higher caliber in order to attract similar clients.

SEO power

Since digital marketing sometimes comes down to website rankings, let’s talk about the SEO power behind original content. In addition to a website redesign, or perhaps a part of it, your digital marketing strategy should include frequent website updates, like blogs, with original content, as well. Developing your own original content for keeping the site updated is now easier than ever. Smartphones have removed the barrier to entry so that now you can create images and videos in-house, or work with a social media specialist to really give your original content some power.

Google loves activity and frequent updates show you’re providing value, which can help increase your website’s organic rankings. This doesn’t mean several times a day – the right amount for you depends on your business and industry and a content strategist can help you determine that. New posts also allow you to use different keywords to attract more visitors from search engines.

Again, it’s not just about putting anything up so your website will rank. Google and other search engines evaluate websites for high quality content. One of the tenets of high quality content is that it’s truly unique, original, and valuable to your users.

The Bottom Line: Authenticity

Being genuine is your best tool for landing new clients, and original, high quality content is the best way to achieve that. It is important to convey expertise and authority, but also in your unique voice, be it in writing, with images, or with video.

The goal is to make an authentic connection to establish the groundwork of a long-term, fruitful relationship. Marketing your company online is the same thing as having a client come to your office for a meeting. The office decor and what you wear will be the first things that they notice and assess, and then they listen to determine if you’re genuine, or doing a sales dance.

The difference is that now your website is your first impression.