Content is the king they say. This has never been so true as it is when you are talking about web content. There is so much information available on the web these days that people expect information to be unique, timely and relevant. Your content needs to be fast loading, clean and easy to read, easy to navigate and especially easy for the search engines to index.
Writing for the web is a skill set of its own. Website text, or “copy”, needs to be written in a different tone for the web than a brochure. It needs to be built around the target keywords for the site and be written for a lower literacy audience.
While practice is the best teacher, and there are many things that you can do to write quality content for your website. These tips should get you on your way to providing an extra service for your customers that they will appreciate and you will find very rewarding.
- Make your content interesting - Don’t just provide dry information and facts. Make it lively and entertaining whenever possible. Sell yourself, your services or your product. Use humor and make yourself likable. Put yourself into your clients shoes and try to write your content as if you were trying to convince yourself to buy, sign-up, or request your own service. What would make you buy your product?
- Do not copy the Print Brochure - This is the most common web writing mistake made by web designers. Brochures and print marketing materials use sales language that does not scan well on a website. Any use of sales language on a website beyond the usual “order our products here” stuff will make your users click off faster than a Guitar Hero champion can shred the final level. Ditto with puffed up marketing claims such as being “the best” or “the greatest”. Brochures are riddled with this stuff as countless marketing studies have shown that such language does work in print marketing materials.Some clients will insist that you use their marketing materials since they are so heavily invested in them. It is your job as the web professional to explain to them that what works offline does not work online.
- Do your research - Once you have your flow chart, creating the site copy is a matter of filling in the blanks. Do solid research on your client’s industry while writing these pages. Proper research will lead to factual copy that users will enjoy experiencing. Every sentence you write should be based on a solid fact. Think Twitter, not Great Expectations.
- Keep it short - In general, no web page should be over 600 words or four paragraphs in length. If you need to have a larger page for any reason, consider creating a new category with a sub-menu and several lower level pages. If you must have articles in your site, create a separate blog section for them as your users are more likely to actually read them if they are done in a blog format.
- Write for humans first - The more interesting you make your content, the more people will link to it and the better your search engine results will be. If you write for humans first and search engine bots second, you’ll end up with way more traffic.
- Write about things and provide information that you know well - Do it quickly and efficiently so you get your message across fast but also make quality use of the time someone is spending reading your site. If you try to cover a large topic in a mediocre or unconvincing way, people will probably not bookmark and return or even worse they many not even finish reading and move on.
- Keep your content short and sweet when possible-The first paragraph of your article is critical. If it’s dull, boring and lifeless, your reader will surely move on. You must keep their interest right from the start and drive them to pick up the phone or pull out their credit card. On the web people like to get information fast and it better be good. Don’t drone on for pages trying to sell and convince people. Give it to them straight and to the point and then if you feel that it might be beneficial to expand on your topic then do so. But never drag out a sales pitch. Allow your visitors to get the information they need and then if they want more you can always provide it.
- Promote your content - The most important thing to remember is that content without promotion is well… just content. You need to get the word out that you have something important to say, get your site address in all of your advertising, get your site listed in search engines, write industry specific content that can be provided to other sites, and in general do everything you can to get people to your site where you do your selling. You can do a lot on your own but consider hiring a full time professional if your site is important to you. The money you spend will be returned ten fold (and I can guarantee it) if you follow the rules provided in this article.