Professional Writing Techniques for the Web
“Content is king”. “Target your content to your audience”. “Use keywords in your text”. We’ve all heard of at least one of the rules surrounding writing online content, and to be honest, a lot of the basic writing platitudes (K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid) tend to get thrown in when we question how to go about populating our websites and blogs with text. However, writing for the web is not a matter of just putting content onto a web page or blog. The thought process needs to begin before a single word ever gets typed onto the page because as a medium, the web is alive and requires a very different perspective to writing than print.
1. Set goals for your top pages. Think of the top (most often visited) pages on your website as landing pages, or the storefront for your online business presence. The content and layout of these pages will be the very first interaction any online visitor has with your business, so before you add content, think about what it is you want to accomplish with this interaction.
Depending on your type of business, you may be looking to gain emails for your prospect list, perhaps you are selling products and want your top pages to include your e-commerce (shopping) pages. No matter the goals of these pages, you need to be sure that your content is written to obtain the goals you hope for from your target audience.
- Tip: Not sure which of your website pages are “top” pages? Installing Google Analytics to your web pages then monitoring for about a month will give you a good idea of where your site visitors spend the most time on your website.
- Tip: Be sure your landing top pages are linked to your home page and other site pages. One of the easiest ways to lose a new visitor is to drop them on a page with no way to navigate to other pages on your site for more information should they need it.
2. First impressions are EVERYTHING. Web shoppers are becoming savvier as to what they expect from their online shopping experience, and a copy-dense page with no graphics or interactivity is not it. The layout of your website pages has a significant effect on how you approach your web content, so lay out your pages before adding text.
White space is still important to offer readers a little breathing room to move around your content easily, but layouts of current sites need to “pop” with interactive content to be truly effective.
- Tip: Video additions to web pages are a great way to create a one-to-one experience for your site visitors and can enhance the page rank exponentially at the same time. Currently, including video content from sites like YouTube offer a higher SEO, search engine optimization, benefit than keywords in your text.
3. It’s HOW you say it AND WHAT you say that Counts. Website content has three purposes at its very base. 1. To be found by search engines so web users can locate it through organic search 2. To differentiate your company within your industry within a few lines of text and 3. To engage your audience and drive them to a conversion, whether it be submitting an email address, contacting you, or making a purchase from your site. With all those burdens on an average of 250-350 words of content per page, there needs to be a detailed web content strategy over its lifecycle.
- Tip: Web content is not a set-it-and-forget-it aspect of your web marketing plan. It needs to reflect the current goals of your marketing plan, and include current keywords for the best search engine response.
- Tip: Don’t go for the generic approach with your wording. To truly differentiate your company with your web content, you need to “speak” the way you would to a prospective client. Let the personality and tone of your business come through in your text. In other words, don’t go with the same old content all the other sites like yours are using. Take a leap and write from your personal view of your business.
- Tip: Use keyword hyperlinks within your content to keep your site visitors engaged on your site longer. The definition of a hyperlink is “A link from a hypertext file or document to another location or file, typically activated by clicking on a highlighted word or image on the screen.” Hyperlinks make browsing your web pages easier based on interest, so site visitors spend more time delving into your site.
The more time they spend learning about your company and why you offer something unique in the industry, the higher the conversion rate potential.
- Sample hyperlink: This sentence contains a hyperlink in the word website.
Think of your web content as an ongoing online campaign for your business and treat it as such. It needs to change and be findable, it needs to be compelling and it needs to differentiate your business from the competition. Keep these points in mind before you ever type a letter and your web content strategy will have a strong start.