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The essential business case of a Web site is self-service. To maximize value from self-service, you want a limited menu, a fast transaction and a significant volume of people.

Let's say your Web site has 5,000 pages of content. Let's say that the total cost for publishing each page is $100. Thus, the total cost is $500,000.

Let's also say that you have 100,000 visitors over the lifetime of these 5,000 pages. Let's say that the top 20% of pages get 80% of visitors (which is very common, in my experience).

That means that 1,000 pages are getting 80,000 visitors, and 4,000 pages are getting 20,000 visitors. The "cost" per page for the top 20% of pages is then $1.25 per visitor. The cost per page for the bottom 80% of pages is then $20 per visitor.

In other words, you need to focus on how much each page is costing you and what value each page is delivering. To maximize value, you want to focus on your killer content. At a very basic level, content is judged based on volume of sales. The Harry Potter series is a huge success because it sells a lot of copies.

If you focus your energies on your killer content and applications, you will be able to show much more value. I come across many sites for which people are spending as much time on the low-quality, filler content as they are on the high-quality, killer content. In fact, I come across quite a few Web sites where managers are not aware which is the killer and which is the filler content.

Filler content also has hidden costs. A 5,000-page Web site is more difficult to navigate than a 1,000-page Web site. It's harder for readers to find what they need. Speed and convenience are critical to the success of self-service. The more you clutter your site, the more you slow the reader down.

Remember that people are hugely impatient when they are on the Web. If they can't find what they want quickly, they will hit the Back button.

Sometimes people tell me that even if only a few people might want to read this, it's still worth publishing. I disagree. If there's a very small audience, it might be much more effective to go and call them (or even visit them).

The core objective of content is to drive an action. You need to know that the top 20% of your content is really delivering a return. Just because people read a page is not enough. Did they understand it? Did they act the way you wanted them to after reading it?

To get a Web page right demands a lot of time and effort. Let's say you delete 2,000 of those pages I mentioned earlier. Let's say you invest $300 per page for the 1,000 killer content, and $100 per page for the other 2,000 pages. You're still spending the same budget, but are likely to deliver far more value because you're focusing on getting the content right that your reader wants.

To maximize value on your Web site, focus on your killer content. Delete the filler content.

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image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern (gerry@gerrymcgovern.com) is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.