People love passionate business owners. Your audience will scan your story for proof that you’re passionate about your business. Tell people about the work your company gets excited about doing. Or, tell your audience what you like to see in your industry, whether it’s an innovation, a business philosophy in practice, or an initiative. Organize your website content into logical categories like a restaurant menu.Most menus are usually divided into categories, and subcategories. Pastas go with pastas and burgers go with burgers, etc.
Whether you are writing blog posts, website articles, web content, or books, the following tips will help you organize your work for enhanced output. Learn content writing with a stepwise procedure! Write content that your target audience is searching for. Make sure to write content that meets the needs of your site visitors, and is information they are looking for. If you do this your website visitors will turn into long-time customers. Don’t steal photos online.
You don’t have to be a professional to know what good content writing looks like. If you’ve ever searched for something on Google and found a page that’s actually been helpful — congratulations, you’ve experienced good content writing!
Examine the content as a reader, and create the posts that you want to see, but haven’t been able to find. It’s Thought-Provoking. While your website content absolutely needs to be original, well-written and actionable, it will get the best results if it’s thought-provoking.
But here’s the thing: if you’re here, you’re not just looking to write good copy — you want to write great copy.
While great content writing certainly gets clicks (and keeps people on your page), it has the power to do so much more. Good copy answers someone’s question. Great copy answers their question — and a few they didn’t even know they had.
Ultimately, the best content doesn’t just get people to click — it gets people to trust you. That trust inevitably leads to more shares, more backlinks, and more sales.
Why should entrepreneurs learn content writing?
Good content writing is your best employee — in fact, a Salesforce/Pardot survey found that consumers consider trust in a company's content to be 3x more important than trust in the brand's actual employees. 97% of the same survey respondents also said that bad content negatively affected their trust in a brand.97% of consumers surveyed by @Pardot said bad #content negatively has impacted their trust in brands. #marketing Click To Tweet
You don’t want hours of researching and writing content to go to waste. You want ROI. So bookmark this list of content writing tips and keep it handy any time you create content for the web.
23 Content Writing Tips
1. Good content writing begins with keyword research.
Before you even start to write content, you need to know what you’re writing about — and you can kill two birds with one stone if you combine search engine optimization with your editorial calendar planning.
Keyword research tells you what topics Google (and your target audience) finds relevant.
It illuminates your competitors content strategy, and highlights the strengths and weaknesses in your own. And it allows you to optimize individual articles and your content strategy as a whole to bring in more traffic.
The ROI is unbeatable. TCF’s site generates over $400,000 worth of organic traffic each year (as in, we’d have to spend more than $400,000 dollars in AdWords to get the same number of site visits). And all it takes is a little extra research time, and occasional tweaks to update the content and keyword targeting.
2. Keyword stuffing is never okay
Keywords are a means to make your content valuable, readable and search-friendly. But when you start cramming in keywords, it does the exact opposite.
A web page stuffed with keywords looks dubious and untrustworthy — to both Google and human readers. Your conversion rate and SERPs rankings go down, along with your pageviews. Readers start to see it as a low quality page and bounce quickly, and over time search engines slap down your domain.
Search engines are smart these days. You don’t have to work in grammatically incorrect keyword phrase just because searchers use it. You don’t need to work in every conceivable variation of a search term for Google to understand what your page is about.
3. Drive toward powerful calls to action (CTAs)
What do you want readers to do with the content you create? If your only answer is, “Well, read it, I guess,” you need to go back to the drawing board. Before you even start writing a blog post, you need to know what your call to action will be, and you need to make it compelling enough that readers can’t help but click. That’s how you connect content writing to marketing goals and prove ROI.
Which calls to action should businesses use in their content?
Here are some examples of calls to action you can incorporate in just about any blog post or landing page:
- Desired user action: download resource. Download our free guide for more expert tips about [topic].
- Desired user action: subscribe to newsletter. Sign up for exclusive resources in your inbox each week.
- Desired user action: get a demo. Schedule a free demo of [software/ app name] to see how many hours you can save each day.
- Desired user action: share content on social media. Know somebody who could use these tips? Share this article and tag your colleague!
- Desired user action: make a purchase. Click here and use offer code 'CONTENT' to save 30% on the purchase of [product or service].
When writing calls to action, put yourself in the reader’s shoes: what would it take for a company you’ve never heard of to convince you to do something, even something as simple as sharing the article with a friend? Now, connect it to your goals: how can you craft a CTA and content specific to your company’s marketing and sales KPIs that actually persuades readers to take action?
4. Email vs. e-mail, Internet vs. internet and other style debates
Language always changes, and web writers need to be hip to the trends to appeal to modern audiences. For example, many organizations would never use the singular, gender-neutral “they” as recently as the early 2000s. Now, the only language authorities that make you write out “he or she” are middle school English teachers.
Similarly, “e-mail” was considered the correct term for a long time by major authorities like the AP and The New York Times, but one by one they gave in. The same goes with the lowercase “internet.” There are people that still treat it as a proper noun, but none of them work as editors in The Guardian, The Economist or the BBC.
The bottom line is, whatever your language pet peeves are, your online writing is for your audience, not for you.
Play it safe by following the conventions of the AP or another respected style guide, or creating your own house style guide that adheres to modern usage rules. Be consistent, and be modern.Grammar snobs, take note: whatever your language pet peeves are, your online #writing is for your audience, not for you. #marketing Click To Tweet
5. 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, citations can also help you get backlinks.
Frequently, the sites you link to will see your effort and thank you for it with a reciprocal link or quote.
Read 14 Ways to Get Backlinks for more information on effective linking strategy.
6. Make the reader feel something.
There are a lot of factors that go into viral content. Promotion is a huge factor, and brand identity, timing and plain luck all play a role.
But almost all viral writing shares one thing in common: emotional impact.
In a recent article, Hubspot interviewed three different marketing experts on why content goes viral. Although each emphasized different factors, all three emphasized the importance of creating web content that evokes an emotional response in the reader. Megan Conley, Content Marketing Strategist at HubSpot, put it this way:
We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a sounds terrible. Click To Tweet
8. 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 reflect that.
Put simply: keep it short! A five-line paragraph is great, but a three-line paragraph is even better. 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!
9. Update your links
Most website content writers know the importance of internal links. Linking to other pages on your site boosts SEO, gives readers useful info, and increases page views and time on site. However, it’s not enough.
You need to revisit older posts and pages to update them with new links. This boosts your search results, makes your pages more useful and relevant to users and helps your content stays fresh.
It’s just one part of revamping older, evergreen content to improve SEO. (More on that later!)
10. Invest in a good SEO suite
You can do SEO keyword analysis with nothing but a Google spreadsheet and some free tools,but there’s a lot of data to crunch. And digging through all the keywords and traffic data makes it easy to get lost in the analytics.
Not all SEO suites solve the problem. Some bombard you with too much data, without providing the tools you need to sort through it and tweak your content strategy. Other SEO tools break everything down into their own proprietary system, without giving you the enough data to draw your own conclusions. And when they get it wrong, you’ll have no way of knowing until your traffic starts to crash.
One SEO tool that gets the balance right is SEMrush — in fact, we’re such fans, we’ve even become an affiliate!
With SEMrush, you’re given a lot of data, but all of that data is easy to understand (and even easier to export, if you need to analyze it in another program).
Seriously, take a look at this screenshot:
All of the important analytics are displayed in front of you: what keywords you’re ranking for, how many backlinks you have, what your competition looks like, and the total ad value of your keywords.Even if you’re new to SEO content writing, it’s quick and easy to learn.
Likewise, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of keyword research, SEMrush makes it easy to parse data: you can sort keywords by common metrics like CPC or search volume, find related keywords, compare competitors or narrow in on a specific subdomain of your site.
Whether you’re trying to build out a new blog for your brand, audit your whole site, or zero in on your competitors strategy, it’s an invaluable tool.
If you’re interested in trying SEMrush out, click here for a free 7-day trial of SEMrush Pro!
11. Don’t forget SEO best practices
Repeating your targeted keywords a couple times isn’t enough — you need to use your keyword (and related phrases) anywhere it fits: in the url, H2 headers, meta description and even in the alt tags of your images.
If you’re using WordPress, Yoast can help you nail the SEO.
Once you’re finished inputting your content, expand the Yoast box and check out the Content Analysis portion for some helpful hints about what you should improve before you publish.
Not only does Yoast nail big problems like missing keywords in the meta description, it can also help you zoom in on granular issues like low keyword density to gie your site an extra SEO boost:
12. Give your readers a reason to care from the first sentence
Good intros are hard. It can feel unnatural to skip right to the point. You want to provide some background, warm the reader up and then work your way to the main topic when you feel ready.
But by that point, your reader is long gone.
Your website isn’t literature. Site visitors aren’t there for your nuanced language or slow, measured flow. They’re there to get information or solve a problem (ideally by buying your product or service.)Content writing tip: your website isn't literature. Your readers are there to solve a problem, not gush about rhetorical devices. #marketing Click To Tweet
And if you don’t give them a reason to care about your article, they’re going to get that information or solve that problem somewhere else.
Our intro is a good example. The first sentence is “your website represents your company.” In five words, we’ve told you why this article is important. The rest of the intro expands that, talking about how website content writing can help (or hurt) your company.
Finally, we remind you why you need us: you don’t want to waste time — “you want ROI.” So bookmark this article and reference it when you write.
Every piece of content you write should tell your readers why they should invest their time in hearing what you have to say. How will what you’re teaching them help them? What goal will they accomplish with your help? Why should they care?
13. Paint a picture
Give this paragraph a read:
“Is it just us, or do some people talk about gay dating like it’s an elaborate magic trick? Even unexperienced gay or queer persons may approach the idea of dating with the kind of abject fear one feels when opening the instructions for a new piece of IKEA furniture. ‘Am I doing this right?’ they may ask themselves, months, years and even decades into their dating careers.”
That’s the opening paragraph for blog post we wrote for our personal product client titled 8 Ways Gay Dating Is Just Like Straight Dating and it’s the perfect example to illustrate our point (pun intended).
That point is this — creating content writing is a lot different than writing a 7th grade book report.
Your audience isn’t an overworked and underpaid teacher with no choice but to read your reworded Cliffs Notes on Lord of the Flies. Your audience is choosing to read your content (or to head elsewhere on the web). Imagery is a great way to capture their attention.
Don’t think for a second that a boring or technical topic gets you off the hook either — IKEA assembly instructions have nothing to do with gay dating (usually) but we used a visual to help the reader make the connection. Push yourself to add a little creative fiction to your website content writing and see how much more fun it is to read (and write!)
14. “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! Which brings us to…
15. If you’re not sure, look it up
There’s never been a better time to learn as you go. Double checking the words/grammar/spelling/etc. you don’t know about can help you catch mistakes and internalize the rules, so you can write correctly without looking it up next time.
If the finer points of grammar elude you, you can always download the Grammarly browser extension to catch issues in real time.
Don’t stop with language mechanics, either. Look up content marketing strategy, read industry blogs, study successful online social media marketing campaigns. The more time you spent thinking and picking up new information, the better you’ll get.
Soon, you’ll be writing your own blog posts about web content writing tips!
16. Dictionary.com is your friend — so visit the 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.
Bonus: follow Merriam-Webster on Twitter to level up your vocab and get the linguistic side of news.
Following a dictionary on Twitter might not seem all that exciting, but trust us: it’s a quality follow.
17. Don’t call a banana an elongated yellow fruit
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).
How To Write Content For Your Website
At the same time, you’ve got to write for your audience.
Industry terminology is often important for SEO, and in some cases it can make your content clearer and more authoritative for your audience.
So how can you tell when to use jargon? Look at it from your audience’s perspective. If you were the reader, would a certain technical term make your web writing more readable, or less? Would it clarify the article or read as meaningless ornamentation? Would plain language work just as well or better?
18. Revamp posts for maximum value
Good web content gains value over time. Social media accounts share it, blogs link to it, and Google boosts its ranking as the traffic comes in. At the same time, that content also ages. Information goes out of date, the market changes and user interests change.
That means there is no such thing as a “set it and forget it” content strategy (well, not if you’re good at what you do).
To get the most value out of your content, you need to watch how it performs, prioritize the blogs that do well, and revamp them to bring in new visitors.
In addition to constantly analyzing social shares, pingbacks and web traffic, you should monitor your web shares for the keywords it’s currently ranking for.
Often, you’ll get great results with the longer, more informative piece, but a shorter piece of content might surprise you and go viral, and start ranking for keywords you weren’t even targeting!
Revamp your most valuable posts 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.
Not sure where to start? Check out our complete step by step guide to revamping your old blog posts.
19. 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.
20. Keep the reading level low
In general, the easier your article is to read, the better. Sophisticated content doesn’t 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.
21. 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 (like our webinar on earning free media coverage), 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!
22. 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 subpar. Instead, put it away and come back to it another day — or at least several hours later.
That’s only if you, for whatever reason, don’t have another person to edit your work. Even with a great spell check, there will be things you miss. Make sure there’s somebody in your organization with great writing and editing chops who can give your work a second set of eyes. Remember that behind every good writer — whether it’s a best-selling author, a Washington Post journalist or a copywriter for a viral marketing campaign — is a great editor.
If Steven King needs an editor, so do we lowly mortals!
To understand how difficult and necessary editing can be, try taking The New York Times “Copy Edit This” quiz!
The quiz takes grammar and style errors that made it to print and challenges readers to identify the errors. It sounds much easier than it actually is. I’ll give you an answer I got right on the first try to show you how nuanced it gets — this is one of the easier questions, a simple dangling modifier issue.
23. Level up your skills with online content writing & SEO training
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). Want more content creation tips and tricks? Shoot us an email with your questions and we’ll get back to you.
The Content Factory also offers online SEO and content writing training. If you want to go from novice to pro in just eight hours of self-paced digital learning, sign up for our comprehensive SEO course. You can check out our free webinar on common SEO mistakes to see what it’s like!
Does website content seem too complicated to tackle on your own? Outsource your content writing to us. Click here to get in touch with us today.
Website visitors are like hungry lions… let’s talk about how to write content for your website.
In this post I’ll be offering 10 quick tips to help you write website content that is short, easy to read and will produce more result orientated visits to your website.
1. Website visitors are like wild animals
Your website visitors are there for one of two reasons, to get specific information or to buy a product.
Like a lion hunting for its next meal, website visitors consider two things:
Does your website offer what they’re looking for?
Can they find it easily?
A hungry lion doesn’t like wasting time to catch a meal and your website visitors don’t want to browse around your website for several long minutes to find the information or product they’re after. They want to find it quickly.
Just like our hungry lion makes a fast decision whether to follow a scent trail or not, your website visitor decides quickly whether your site is useful or not. So, if your website looks complicated with a lot of options to choose from, they click off and are on to another website.
So, if your web visitors only have the patience to take a fast glance at your website, how do you get your message across?
2. Put your most important information first
Writing for your website is completely different than any other writing you might be used to such as a novel, an essay or a research paper.
For instance, in a typical writing scenario the most important point, conclusion or climax, comes at the end.
On website pages you do the exact opposite: your most important point always come first.
For example, let’s say a someone is searching for a black leather sofa. When that person arrives at a website they want to know only one-thing, do you sell leather sofas. So, the headline should be something like; “Italian Leather Sofas Never Looked So Good”
Or say someone is looking a website designer. Maybe they are looking for someone local, so they need to see a website designer based in the Milwaukee area. So, my headline of choice is “Hello! My name is Dean. Welcome to Wildstylez. Milwaukee’s Award Winning Website Design Studio”
Information that’s most important to your website visitors is always a simple statement of what you do. Once they understand what you do, they will then decide whether to drill down into some more details. Alternatively, trying to be too clever or having a “I want to be everything for everybody” mentality will not even capture enough of your visitor’s attention to lose it. Bye bye, they’ll be gone in 7 seconds. Seriously.
There is one similar writing style that somewhat matches the concept of website content writing which would be news article writing. Journalists refer to it as “the inverted pyramid.” This I where an articles most newsworthy information comes first before all of the 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 concept when writing for your your website. Your customers want to know the big picture first. You can actually separate your headlines down into two versions:
What do you do?
What can you do for them?
3. Don’t try to be clever or creative
Huh? Well that’s probably the opposite of what you were searching for or what novice content writers are trying to sell you. But let it be gospel, on the web readers do not hang on to every word you write. They don’t have the time. In fact, even if they do have the time, they are fixated on speed. It’s the world we live in. They are in a hurry because they know they can check out several more websites – instead of wasting time trying to figure out what you do or where to find the information they need.
Clever phrasing requires people to think. And asking people to think, doesn’t work on the web because web visitors are hunting– they don’t have time to think. In fact, they don’t even want to be bothered with having to make the effort to think. So, keep your web copy as simple as possible.
Although you may think at first it is somewhat insulting to your target market, writing content as if you are writing for a 12-year old is a “best practice” because it is going to make your copy easy to read and fast to comprehend.
4 Write for scanners because no one reads your website
Question: How many people read your website pages?
Answer: Hardly anybody!
Research has proven that only 16% of visitors will read a website page word-for-word. Telling us that 84% of the people visiting your website are just scanning. (source: Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox).
How can you write for scanners?
Take a look at your website:
• Does your headline communicate instantly what you’re about?
• Do your images coincide with your headline and content?
• Do your sub headlines summarize your key points?
• Do you use easy-to-scan blockquotes, lists, charts and bullet points to reduce the amount of copy?
Your website visitor is hunting for information or products. Ensure they can instantly understand your most important information with just a glance at your website pages.
5. Use familiar words
Imagine you want to fly to New York for a weekend holiday and you’re looking for the cheapest flight. What will you enter into your web search box?
• Cost-effective flights to New York.
• Low-fare flights to New York.
• Cheap flights to New York.
Well if you are like 80% of web searchers out there you will search for: “Cheap flights to New York.” In fact, Google’s Keyword Tool search results show cheap is far more popular than low fare and cost effective
Keywords are the words people are looking for. Too many business owners like to make their content sound scientific, fancy or special with big words and industry jargon. But your website visitors relate much more positively to familiar words.
6. Write for lazy people
Just like the lion looks for an easy catch for his dinner, your website visitors don’t want to make an effort to read your text.
Make your copy easy to read:
• Use short paragraphs – try around four sentences max per paragraph
• Use short sentences – try around 12 words max per sentence
• Skip unnecessary words
• Avoid industry terms and jargon
• Avoid the passive tense
• Avoid needless repetition
• Address your web visitors directly—use the word “you”
• Shorten your text
How short should your text be? The rule I go by with my clients is to write the content, then rewrite it with half the words. Then rewrite again – once again cutting the number of words in half.
Yes, it is a demanding target. But give it a go. Set yourself a challenge and make your written content as short as possible. You’ll be shocked at how much you can say with just a few well thought words.
7. Expect people to arrive anywhere on your website
Your website isn’t read from start to finish like a book
People usually read a book from chapter one, via chapter two to three and four etc.
Now, imagine people pick up a book and start reading somewhere completely at random. Possibly at the beginning of the last chapter, maybe in the middle of chapter three, or at the last page of chapter one.
That’s what happens with your website. Half or more of your website visitors will not start reading at your home page. They may arrive on any of your web pages.
• Each website page should be easy to scan;
• Each website page should clarify to people where they are; and what your site is about;
• Each website page should have a call-to-action telling people where to go next – to read another blog post, sign up for your email newsletter, check out a detailed product description or testimonial, request a quote or add a product to a shopping cart.
Don’t rely on your navigation bar menu to tell people what to do next. Include a button or link to guide people to take the next step on every single page.
8. Make it easy for hunters to find you
Potential customers are hunting for information or products.
How can you help them find you?
How To Write Quality Content For Your Website
Lure potential customers to your website by providing useful information. That’s how writing for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) basically works:
• Answer the questions potential customers are asking;
• Discuss one key topic for each page;
• Include links to relevant pages on your own website or to other websites;
• Use phrases and words your potential customers are looking for.
Above all: Be helpful. You are offering your expertise, your service or your product, to help make someone’s life easier. Wasting content on telling people how great you are, how great your company is, or how your product is better than everyone else’s is insulting to your reader. Leave the accolades to real life testimonials, references and referrals.
9. Make a visual impression
Website copy and web design must work together.
You can’t write your words, you can’t compose your sentences, you can’t create your bullet points, without considering how your web page will look to the eye of your visitor.
The visual appeal of your website impacts the readability of your text; and influences whether web visitors can quickly get what you’re about.
How to increase the visual appeal of your web copy:
• Replace text by photographs or videos;
• Consider different font sizes – think about people scanning large text first;
• Emphasize quotes of customers (or experts) to add credibility;
• Play around with highlights, bold text, CAPS, or italics;
• Break a long headline into a headline with a sub headline;
• Change paragraphs into bullet points.
10: De-clutter. White space sells!
In the advertising business there is a slogan that you should always remember when laying out your website page;
“White Space Sells”
Filling every open space, you can with more content is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Instead, look for areas you can create blank space. Let your content and images “breathe.” It will make your website easier to read and increase the amount of time visitors will browse and read what you have to share.
The truth about writing persuasive web copy
I’d love to tell you that writing persuasive web copy is easy.
How To Write Content For Your Website
But the truth is that writing simple, useful copy is hard.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help form a website designer or a professional copywriter. Both will have great insight on how your website can be so much more by having so much less written copy.
How To Write Good Content For Your Website
A special thanks to Elegant Themes for research and facts that contributed to this article.
How To Write Great Content For Your Website
Lets get creative together! Contact me and we can set up a time to discuss your website project.