Writing Web Content 101

Make your web site work for you with great, concise content – get the traffic you need, keep people on your site longer, and lead them directly to the action you want them to take – whether it is buying your product, attending your event, reading your writing, or washing your dog.

Write an Effective Home Page

Your home page is THE most important page of your site. Google will look at it first and consider it the most important page of your site. So will your visitors.

Many web site owners like to have just a graphic or Flash file on their home page – a logo, photo, moving images, etc. While this may be visually appealing, it is actually preventing your home page from doing its job. Don’t let your home page be a lazy-loo.

Ideally, in addition to eye-catching graphics or photos, your home page should have real, descriptive, keyword-rich text on it—actual text, not as part of a graphic. It should say what your site is about and what problem your product or service can solve for the visitor. If there are important keywords phrases for your product, make sure those are prominent in the text on the home page. Are there certain phrases that you think people will Google to find you? Make sure that text is on your page, as close to the top as possible.

But keep it natural. We have all visited web sites that look like they were written by a robot, spitting out keyword phrases like that telemarketer who insists on interrupting your dinner. Your visitors will catch on to this and think your site is not legitimate. Keep the language smooth and conversational, and make sure you deliver the most important points at the top of your page.

Use Headings for Great SEO

Headings are larger, bolder lines of text before a paragraph, like “Using Headings for Great SEO” above. People will visually scan a page for a second or two before they decide if it is worth reading. If the text is broken up with headings, the reader can see immediately if what they need is there, and may be enticed to read things they were not even looking for. Making those headings interesting and descriptive will lure people into reading instead of clicking away.

Headings are great for search engines. Google and other search sites will look for headings for the same reason your visitors will—to get a quick idea of what the page is about and what it has to offer. It will consider headings more important that regular text, so make the headings descriptive. Someone who sells exotic pet training should perhaps have a heading that says “Train your Tortoise to Tap Dance” instead of “What We Do”

Make your Content Easy to Scan and Digest

Again, long blocks of text are not going to entice someone to read the page.

Some great ways to make your content easier to swallow:

  • Tell people immediately what you want them to get from the page. If all they read is the first paragraph, at least it should be an informative one that sums things up.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Eliminate any language or content that is not 100% necessary.
  • Break the content up into paragraphs that each cover one topic only and get straight to the point.
  • Use lists (like this one)—they are easy to scan and they stand out from other paragraphs. People are suckers for a list—have you scanned the magazine covers at the checkout lately? “Ten Ways to Tone Your Tushie” will work every time.
  • Use bold and italics (never underline unless it is a link) to focus people on important keywords.
  • Don’t try to say too much. If a page is too long, people will just assume it is a snooze.

Use Descriptive Links

Use links in your text to lead people to other parts of your site where they can get more specific, detailed information on a topic. This makes it easier to lead your visitors where you want them to go, and keeps them engaged on your site.

Make these links descriptive: instead of saying “Read More!” try “Click here to learn how you can potty train your parakeet!” This helps the reader who is just scanning the text, and these descriptive links tell Google what kind of content that link will lead to.

Get Some Action!

No, not THAT kind, silly.

You should have a clearly defined goal for your web site, and there is an action your visitors can take to help you reach it. It is imperative that you are clear when you are writing your content that your goal is always being served and that your visitor is constantly given the opportunity to take action.

If you are selling a product, for example, your goal is to sell tons of it. You want your site visitors to take the action of buying. Make sure you have prominent text links throughout the site to “Click here to buy Amazing Gro today!” as well as a prominent Buy Now! graphic that repeats through the site. When someone has that impulse to buy, you don’t want them to spend precious minutes searching for how to take action. You are just giving them more time to change their mind and buy Stupendo-Grow (i.e., your competitor and arch-nemesis) instead.

Make It Interesting

People get so worried about offending anyone that they frequently make their web content dead boring. Don’t be afraid to be unique and use your own personal voice! If your personal voice is that of a drunken sailor, well, perhaps you should invent a more appealing voice, but otherwise, don’t hide behind boring technical terms and dry content. Let your passion for your product or service shine through. Just be careful to avoid tons of exclamation marks!! They can make you seem smarmy and insincere!!!!

Don’t forget to spell-check, and have a trusted friend with strong editing skills read everything over. Don’t choose your mother who thinks everything you do is perfect. Choose the snarky-but-smart friend who will tell you to your face if your content is a big yawn.

Ready to start? Shoot me an email and lets start on the road to building your dream web site!