Posted on 8/25/2015 in Digital Marketing

By Dean Dorazio

Contrary to popular belief, writing for the web is not the same as writing for print. With print media, a reader typically has more patience. On the web, you have a relatively narrow window of opportunity to grab the attention of your viewer, so you need to make sure every word counts. So how do you write content designed to keep website visitors on the page? Follow this short guide on writing well optimized website content!

Know Your Audience

The first thing you need figure out before you start to write is who your audience is. You are not writing for yourself, you are writing to a group of people who have a problem you believe you can solve. Your audience may be varied. You may have a few different audiences you need to cater too.

The key question to keep in mind is what does your audience want to know? What questions do they have that you need to answered? What is their level of expertise on the subject? Depending on your answer and what kind of content you are writing – whether it be a landing page, product page, or a specific blog post topic – you may want to carefully target a specific audience.

Keep Content Simple, Short, Concise, and Factual

When writing for the web, your content should be simple, short, concise, and factual. You want to keep the content simple, direct, and aimed at your target audience. Avoid flowery language so your content is easy to read and establishes a positive, non-threatening tone to help engage the reader.

Keeping your ideas short and concise is also key. The are lots of placed your reader could go to find the information they are looking for, and if they do not find it in the first few lines of your content, they will hit the back button without hesitation. If you want to share additional knowledge or dive deep into a specific topic, link to an additional page about that topic or give the reader the option to download a case study or whitepaper.

Being concise also applies to page titles. Best practice suggests keeping them around 55 characters, but you can still say a lot with very little. For example, your title could be ‘We Provide the Best Cleaning Products for the Job You Need to Do’ or it could be ‘Cleaning Products for Every Job’. Both say the same thing, but the shorter title gets the message across faster.

Where appropriate, use bulleted or numbered lists to break your information down. It makes your content easier to skim. Most online searchers have the same common behaviors and when they go to a site they scan images, headlines and any information that stands out before they decide to spend the time reading the bulk of the content. Therefore, you want to make your site ‘skimmable’ to invite the viewer to dig deeper.

The last important aspect to writing web content is to keep it factual. Establishing and maintaining trust on the web is based on your ability to deliver useful, factual information to the viewer. If you do, not only will viewers look at you as an industry thought leader, Google will reward your sites for the quality of its content with improved organic rankings.

Keep SEO in Mind

While writing, it is important to keep SEO best practices in mind to prevent yourself from having to re-write content to incorporate keywords and phrases. Before you start, conduct keyword research on your topic. Come up with a list of keywords or phrases that you want to incorporate into your content, and let that guide your title, H1’s, and other important page elements.

Include Directives and Calls to Action

Directives are helpful in engaging your audience. By including calls to action buttons (Register, Learn More, Read More, Sign Up), you are inviting your audience to make a purchase, or fill out a form. Without them, readers won’t know what to do.

Accent with Images

A well-chosen, high quality image can catch someone’s eye and help illustrate a point quicker than words. However, over use of images or the use of poor quality images can be detrimental to your credibility, so choose wisely.

Keep Your Page Layout in Mind

One common problem is that a website content writer may not know how the content will be laid out on the page and how much space is being allotted for different components. For example, there may be a content area dedicated to providing a summary or overview. Or, your template may include a right column that can be used for calls to action or other directives. If your website is brand new, send your content writer the wire frame as a guide so you can be sure they write everything you need, down to the very last image caption.

Writing website content can be challenging, but if you follow these guidelines, you should have everything you need to succeed! Looking for a little help? Contact us today!

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