Web Content Writing Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore
Having remarkable content on your website is one of the most important things you can do for your business — your web content is like an ambassador for your company, and if it’s not on point you’re going to lose out on sales. Shareable blog posts are also an important aspect of content marketing efforts and SEO.
Good content will help you get backlinks and make people trust your company more. When you are writing web content, you have to keep certain things in mind such as doing keyword research, hyperlinking to your sources, updating your links, and so on. Let’s dig deeper into the major things that you have to keep in mind while writing web content.
Keyword Research for SEO
Today, many sites that generate huge organic traffic each year and the reason why the content is so successful is keyword research. You don’t need to always write keyword-based posts, but when you do, they tend to rank well. There are many tools available for doing keyword research and use them effectively to place relevant keywords and obtain traffic to your site.
A Big “No” to Keyword stuffing
Although SEO should always be a focal point, if you stuff keywords into your copy you’ll negatively impact the readability of your content, its conversion rate and how well it ranks in the SERPs. If you stuff keywords into your copy, readers will bounce off the page and search engines will slap you down. Also worth noting: just because people are searching for grammatically incorrect keywords doesn’t mean you should incorporate them verbatim into your copy.
Always hyperlink to your sources
When you reference another website’s content, make sure you hyperlink back to that site. It’s good internet etiquette, and you’d want the same courtesy. Always cite your sources, even if you’re afraid it’ll send your web traffic to another site — and you can always choose the “open link in another window” option if you’re that concerned about keeping your traffic. Besides being the right thing to do, it can also help you get backlinks.
Make the reader happy
Crafting content that goes viral is every writer’s dream, and tapping into a reader’s emotions is the way to do it. The social media users are more likely to share content that makes them happy. So, the next time you’re crafting a piece of ad copy or web writing ask yourself, “What’s good about this story? How can I give this a positive message or angle?” Find it, and you could find your key to viral content.
Keep the action in your content writing
If you’ve read tips about writing for the web before, you’re probably familiar with the term passive voice – but do you know what it actually means? The passive voice happens when you switch the subject and object in a sentence. Instead of “the lion attacks the village” you have “the village is attacked by a lion.” Notice how the second sentence is somehow less exciting (even though it contains a killer lion?) This is why avoiding the passive voice is so important.
In addition to sticking mostly to a subject, verb, object structure, try filling your web writing with unique and exciting verbs. Instead of “sales climbing” say “sales rocketing.” Instead of “cutting costs” try “killing costs.” These small changes won’t add to your word count, but they will make your content writing more exciting and engaging.
Put your most important information first
Writing for the web is completely different from writing an essay or a paper. An essay might go like this: First, explain what you’re going to discuss. Then, present an overview of the literature. Next, discuss; and finally draw your conclusion. The most important point you make is in the conclusion – at the end of your essay!
On web pages you have to do the opposite: your most important points always come first. An example: you’re looking for a new red three-seater sofa. When you arrive at a website you want to see it sells sofas. And secondly, you want a search box so you know you can quickly find out what the red three-seater sofas are like.
Or say you’re looking for a copywriter for your website. Maybe you’re looking for someone local, so you need to see a copywriter is based in Manchester which is nearby. Or maybe your copywriter needs to understand medical terminology, so you like to see a headline like “copywriting for the medical industry.”
Information that’s most important to your web visitors is often a simple statement of what you do. Once they understand what you do, they might want to know some important details. And then – maybe they’d like to know some background information.
Journalists call this way of writing “the inverted pyramid.” In newspaper articles, the most newsworthy information comes first before details and background information. Even if you only read the first paragraph of a newspaper story you still understand the big picture. It’s the same on your website. Your customers want to know the big picture first. Basically: What do you do? Or what can you do for them?
Update your links
Every single page on your website should link to other pages — not only does this help you boost the rankings of the pages you link to, it also gets users hopping around on your site and spending more time there.
Most writers will keep this in mind when creating web content, but what they’ll often forget to do is revisit older posts and pages to update them with new links. Set a Google Calendar alert for yourself so you’ll remember to do this once a month.
Don’t forget the extra SEO juice
If you’re using WordPress or a similar platform to host your content, repeating your targeted keywords a couple times isn’t enough. Remember to place your target keyword in the url, in H2 headers, in the meta description and even in the alt tags of your images.
Once you’re finished inputting, remember to expand the Yoast box and check out the Content Analysis portion for some helpful hints about what you should improve before you publish.
Always answer the question “why should you care?”
This should be an integral part of every piece of content you write. Before your readers invest their time into hearing what you have to say, they’ll want to know why it’s worth it. How will what you’re teaching them help them? What goal will they accomplish with your help? Always explain these things up front.
“Do’s and Don’t’s” vs. “Dos and Don’ts”
Which is correct? The latter! Nothing drives us crazier than people putting apostrophes in pluralized words. When in doubt about spelling, capitalization or grammar, Google it!
If you’re not sure, look it up
You’d be surprised at how much you teach yourself when you consistently look up things you aren’t sure about. You learn most of this stuff by double checking the words/grammar/spelling/etc. You aren’t sure about. It takes a little time at first, but if you make a habit of not having to double check the same thing twice you’ll be an expert in no time. Then, you can write your own blogs about web content writing tips!
Visit the dictionary.com site often
You’d be amazed at how many words people misuse on a regular basis. For instance, peruse probably doesn’t mean what you think it does (in fact, it’s probably the opposite). Never use words unless you’re absolutely certain of their meaning.
Don’t overuse meaningless words
Don’t use a $3 word when a 10 cent word will suffice, unless you’re going for the “most pretentious web content writer” award. Overuse of meaningless buzzwords is a good way to show that you have an MBA, but a bad way to keep the interest of your readers (and it actually makes you look bad).
Revamp posts for maximum value
There is no such thing as a “set it and forget it” content strategy (well, not if you’re good at what you do). In addition to constantly analyzing social shares, pingbacks and web traffic, you should monitor your content for the keywords it’s currently ranking for.
A shorter piece of content might surprise you with how well it’s performing, and it might even start ranking for keywords you weren’t even targeting! Revamp posts like these with added content, updated info and a strengthened keyword strategy and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your page climbs in the search engine rankings.
When writing for the web, chop it up
If you’re writing the next Great American Novel, it’s okay to end paragraphs when pauses seem natural. Writing for the web, however, is a whole different world. Attention spans online are a LOT shorter than they are in Oprah’s Book Club, and your paragraphs need to bear that in mind.
Put simply: keep it short! A five-line paragraph is great, but a three-line paragraph is even better. Some content kings like Derek Halpern even let single sentences fly solo. Don’t worry if an idea doesn’t seem to be fully “complete” before hitting that enter key. Err on the side of short paragraphs and chop it up!
Web site vs. website vs. web site
Which one is it? For the love of all things awesome, it’s website (at least, so says the AP Stylebook, which is sort of like a web content writer’s bible). Not Web site, not web site and not any other variation you can think of. Although “Web site” was once acceptable, it’s sort of like referring to your Blackberry as a “cellular phone” — it makes you look just as out of touch with technology.
Keep the reading level low
Do you know the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease score for your piece of content? There are plenty of free tools to help you find it. These tools crawl through your content, analyze your vocabulary level, and rate your readability by grade level. Unless your topic is extremely niche and technical, you should aim for a middle school reading level or lower.
If your score is too high, it doesn’t mean you need to dumb things down for your readers — it just means you might need to make simpler word choices or cut down your complex sentences. This ensures that visitors of varying education levels can get value from your content, and that readers who may speak English as a second language will understand it too. It also just helps keep your tone clear and relatable which should always be a goal when you’re creating web content.
Email vs. e-mail and Internet vs. internet
The AP Stylebook changed it to email a couple years ago, but only because so many people were using email instead of e-mail…sort of like a “popularity rules” thing for the inaccurate. The New York Times isn’t bowing to the pressure, however, and as of this post is still going with e-mail. More recently, Internet became internet (although both are technically acceptable).
Provide added value
Your content writing should always offer value to the reader in terms of insightful ideas and actionable tips. But if you really want your content to earn repeat traffic and rise in search engine rankings, give your readers a parting gift.
It doesn’t have to cost you anything. It can be a link to a free webinar, a Google Drive Template, or even a worksheet. Give your readers a valuable takeaway and they won’t just view your site as a great resource — they’ll refer their friends too!
Never self edit your work (at least, not right away)
Ideally, you’ll have somebody to edit your writing. If you’re responsible for writing and editing your web content, don’t do both in the same day. When the writing is still fresh, your mind will automatically make up the gaps in your copy and your editing will be sub-par. Instead, put it away and come back to it another day — or at least several hours later.
With enough discipline, solid web content writing skills are within anyone’s reach. Having excellent copy on your website is one of the easiest ways to grab the attention of new visitors (and keep them coming back for more — or better yet, sharing your links).