Having outstanding copy on your website is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
Capturing readers’ interests and attention in the digital universe can be extremely challenging. A study from analytics service Chartbeat found that 55% of visitors spend 15 seconds or fewer on a webpage. Good website writing is the key to beating these statistics. Well written content that’s optimized for the web will rise to the top of search results while holding the reader’s attention.
When you’re writing web content, keep these things in mind:
What do you do?
No matter what industry you are in or what website page you are writing for, all of the content on your business website should address the important and immediate questions that potential customers may ask. For example:
- Can this product or service deliver a solution for me?
- How will this product or service deliver that solution?
- What is the cost of obtaining this product or service?
In short, visitors who land on your website want to know what is in it for them!
Your website content should concisely communicate to potential customers the information they’re seeking. It should also clearly communicate this information to search engines like Google, so that they can show your business website to the people searching for your products and services.
Know your audience
Before putting together any content, ask yourself the question, who is my primary audience? Is it potential customers, returning customers, and what are their demographics? Think about what you can offer them, and what knowledge you can provide that will be valuable to them. Build a profile of your various audience groups. Focus your content around your users’ needs. Imagine who your user will be, and keep that imagined person in mind as you write for him or her.
You can find out more about customer analysis here.
Keep your menu simple
The ease with which a visitor navigates around your website has an impact on both how well your website converts traffic into leads, as well as how well your site ranks on search engines. The navigation menu should be descriptively labelled to minimise the amount of work your visitors have to do to find information. No one wants to spend ages clicking through various vaguely labelled menu options looking for a specific product or page.
Having your navigation menu on every page is important so that users can explore your website without having to go back to the homepage every time. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all of your website visitors will arrive via the homepage. Some may arrive via blog posts, others through organic search, and others from social media posts or ads. Your website should offer information and options for the user, quickly and with the fewest clicks.
Keep your home page clean and simple
Your homepage is your business’s first impression to an online visitor. Users should be able to tell straight away what your business is about, and if you have the information/ offer the service they are looking for.
Go for a clean, simple layout that will direct your visitor’s eyes to your calls to action. Write concisely and get to the essential facts across quickly. The goal of the homepage is to convey the purpose of your business and direct new visitors to the information they are searching for. Your homepage should minimise the amount of work your readers have to do to find information most relevant to them on your website.
Keep the lingo short and simple
Long sentences are for Hemingway and James Joyce, the short attention span of today’s reader demands sentences of around 35 words or less. Focus on using nouns and verbs; use adverbs and adjectives sparingly. Don’t use words like “Brobdingnagian” or “obfuscate” when words like “big” or “confuse” will do.
It’s also important to keep the technical jargon to a minimum. Ensure that information is easy to digest and understand for the non-specialist. Spell out acronyms the first time you reference them and avoid insider language. Explain complex or niche terms and provide hyperlinks to other articles where readers can get more background information on a particular topic.
Make it easy to read/ skim
Make it easy for your readers to skim through the content on your web pages and find the information they’re looking for.
Instead of text-heavy paragraphs, use bulleted or numerical lists. Instead of one long page of text, organise content into labeled tabs.
Always include “white space.” This is the empty space that surrounds paragraphs, images, and other elements on your web page. Though it may seem like this is just wasted space, it’s actually a web designer’s best friend. Comfortable amounts of white space around text make it more legible, and more enjoyable to read.
It’s also important to divide content into sections with descriptive sub-headers. For example, a webpage about The Greenhouse Effect might put information under the following headings:
- What Is The Greenhouse Effect?
- Drivers of The Greenhouse Effect
- Current and Projected Impacts of The Greenhouse Effect
- Learn More
These sub-headers not only help readers navigate the page, they’ll help search engines find your content. To try this on your own site, use the Heading element. Use one H1 (Large) Heading at the top of each page, use H2 (Medium) Headings to separate your main content, and use smaller H3 Headings for any minor points underneath your H2s.
Before you begin to write your website content, come up with a short list of words or phrases relevant to your business. Using keywords related to your industry, product, service, and location are crucial for showing up on Google and other search engine results pages.
Text could be extremely well-written and informative, but if it’s not optimized for search engines, chances are few people will find it. Think of your audience again: what search terms would they type into Google? Make sure to include those terms in headlines and sub-headers.
For example, if people were looking for a marketing executive or social media manager in Maghera, you want to make sure you include the relevant terms, and have the location, and other surrounding locations mentioned in your text somewhere.
Just make sure you don’t keyword stuff your main text, as it will impact negatively on the readability of your content, thus both putting off users, and having search engines slapping you down.
If you’re using WordPress or a similar platform to host your content, remember to place your target keyword in the URL, in H2 headers, in the Meta Description and in the Alt Tags of your images.
Show your credibility
You should establish your businesses credibility in a professional and personable manner. You want to show your expertise, but make sure to speak to your audience rather than make statements that don’t resonate with them.
Use your website content to show your visitors what distinguishes your business from your competitors.
You have to show why they should choose you instead of the 10 other local businesses that offer the same goods/ service – why you are uniquely qualified to serve and solve those needs. Mention past achievements, include customer testimonials, and give concrete examples to help you establish your credentials. This content can be put on a specific page such as the about us page, testominials or the homepage, but you may also be able to imbue elements of credibility into your other pages as well.
Calls to Action
Having a fantastic looking, user friendly website isn’t going to do much for your business if it doesn’t lead to more customers. The key to converting your website visitors into interested prospects and eventually customers is calling them to action.
Your website content should contain call to action phrases and/or buttons that encourage your visitors to engage further with your business. Is there a person a reader should contact for more information? An interesting video that is related they should watch? How about a connected blog post they can read or a report they can download? This strategy helps direct readers to other areas of your website and encourages them to promote your content to their friends and family.
Keep these calls-to-action brief, and begin them with action verbs like “download,” “share,” “join,” “sign up,” “learn more” or “watch.” To really draw the reader’s attention, design a hyperlinked box or button for the call-to-action.
Check and re-check for errors
Once you’ve produced your website content, make sure you review it. Not only should you conduct a careful audit of your content for grammatical mistakes and misspellings, it’s also helpful to get family or friends to have a look over everything. Get them to point out areas of content that are unclear or that may have poor wording. Ask them to take note of how your content is organised and see if they have any suggestions. Make sure to check for broken or misdirected links. After all the work you’ve put into building the site, you don’t want a couple of typos to undermine the professionalism of your business.
Content is not just there to showcase your product or to describe your service. Your content is there, published online, because it is relevant to your audience. It is there to demonstrate that you are the expert in your market and therefore can be valued and trusted. It should engage, entertain, and inform.