Writing good content for the web is crucial for your business. It can drive sales, build your customer base and get your brand at the top of a search list. Reaching and connecting with your audience is the key, but the way people read web pages is very different from reading a book or magazine: time is of the essence. Web content is rarely read word by word; instead people start by scanning the page, selecting individual words and sentences as they go to find the information that’s interesting to them. And if it’s not there immediately, they’ll soon move on elsewhere. Below is a guide to getting started:
Make it human and personal
We all interact with computers but we have an advantage: computers lack the human element and are not great conversationalists. Let your readers know there is a person behind the pages and your website. Put yourself in their shoes: what are you looking for, what do you want to know from this website, what would make you buy this product? Keep the tone friendly and easy to read and don’t be afraid to write as you speak – your readers want to get to know you.
Avoid sales speak Sales are important but readers on the web are savvy, they know when they’re being sold to, they don’t like it and will quickly lose interest. As they read they filter out the sales speak, making that text redundant, to find out what they want to know. Don’t waste your words, keep it newsworthy and informative.
Language Keep it clear and precise – this will also help with your Search Engine Optimisation. Be consistent in your writing style, across your website, to give your site a voice and personality.
Most newspaper journalists use the ‘inverted pyramid’ approach: start with the conclusion (e.g. ‘Social Media has changed business for ever’), follow with the most important supporting information (why and results) and end by giving the background. Web users want to get straight to the facts, so capture their interest at the top of the article and make it easier for them to read on.
Make these impactful and informative – maximum 8 words (the shorter the better). A headline needs to grab the reader’s attention to make them want to read on.
Paragraphs: one idea per paragraph and keep it short. The first sentence needs to grab attention. Readers will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words at the start of the paragraph. If it helps, write the article first and then edit down to half the word count (or less).
Spelling & Grammar
Avoid typos and misspellings. There are few things that will lose readers quicker than content filled with errors and impossible to read. Always proof-read and ‘Spell Check’ new content before pressing send.
Skim reading rules on the web. Make your pages stand out and avoid massive blocks of text. Think: concise, scannable and objective:
• highlight keywords
• use meaningful sub-headings
• use bullet point lists
• use thumbnail images
Share Readers want to trust the information they’re being given and it can increase your credibility by using links to other sites. This shows that you’ve done your homework so don’t be afraid to share information from other sources.
Social Media – make it visible. Highlight Facebook, Twitter (others?) icons and make them visible on all pages of your website so that your customers can click just once to connect with you elsewhere.
Quick Top 5 Writing Tips: getting started
1. Strive for Engagement
2. Be Personal & Informative
3. Be Concise, scan able and objective
4. Use Spell Check & Grammar before pressing send
5. Share your knowledge
1. Be genuine
2. Keep it personal
3. Grab their attention with the headline
4. Use short paragraphs
5. Say more with less – edit, edit, edit
6. Check spelling and grammar – proof, proof, proof
7. Images: help your content to stand-out, use thumbnails, lists
8. Think Tags or Keywords: help you get found on the internet
9. Tell people: Share and promote your content
10. Tie-it in: link to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms
Remember if you need help please get in touch