I work on many website projects and I’m always very vocal in prompting the client to write effective web content – I mean, who wants to see their lovely website design filled with sub-standard content? No-one. Because a website with poor content is a poor website – irrespective of how pretty it looks. Anyway, here are some of my simple tips plus links to articles by people with bigger brains.
Note: on many projects I would encourage the client to use a copywriter but this isn’t always an option.
1) KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)
Website visitors have got a limited attention span when it comes to reading online. And that attention span is getting shorter. So keep your content, brief & punchy – not waffly and verbose. Respect their time.
I said ‘reading‘ websites in the previous point but the truth is people scan pages first – in this information rich world our brains & eyes try to make a quick guestimate about whether it is worth their while reading your content. If it passes the “scan test” then they may well go into full read mode.
How to make your content more scan friendly? Simple techniques such as using a mix of headings, paragraphs, bullet points, graphics, tables, indented quotes, audio, video etc etc – break the content up into bite sized chunks – more digestible that way.
3) Don’t write as if mummy & daddy are looking over your shoulder
Sorry, I couldn’t think of a shorter title so this one will have to do. Many people, when they write for the web, get all highfalutin, putting on their oddly formal “to whom it may concern” voice. No no no.
Do you speak like that in real life? Then don’t do it on your website! Obviously there are limits here, this isn’t a stag do but you get the idea – be a bit more personable; people buy from people.
For many businesses & professionals, the purpose of their website is to help convert visitors into clients. So it’s important that the website is effectively representing the business. People may well be visiting the website to validate a word of mouth referral or after meeting you in real life; therefore let’s make sure that the website back up your core message; not take away from it.
4) Say it how it is
If you are good at X, Y & Z then say it. That’s not bragging. That’s just telling it how it is. Best of all, this makes your potential client’s lives easier as you are boldly stating what you can do for them – they don’t have to read between the lines of coyly closed prose.
And don’t fall into the trap “oooh! some people may not agree with me so I’d better keep the content as bland as possible”. Who wins in this bland scenario? No-one, that’s who. For good or for bad there will always be folks who disagree with us – but surely we know that already so it’s hardly a surprise that this happens on the web? And why allow them to alter who you are? Seems daft to me.
5) Don’t Worry (too much) about Google
Sadly not a day goes by without some drongo ringing me up and promising to get me to the top of Google (whatever the hell that means), they play on fear that there is something, unstated wrong with your website and if only you’ll part with a bit of cash, they’ll fix it for you.
I rant more about this in my recent post “Lies, Damned Lies….and SEO” but suffice to say: all things being equal, don’t panic about SEO – if the content you write is relevant & engaging to your audience – then odds on Google will love it too. Yes there are sensible SEO tactics but it all starts from relevant & engaging content – don’t get distracted from the key task in hand.
6) Tell a good story
Features & benefits about your product/service are all well and good but weave it all into a story of how it helped someone and then you may have something interesting. Testimonials & case studies are always worth while as it adds to credibility.
So, those are my brief points, now I’d like to list out some key articles (please shout out if you know of any good ones to add).
- Google’s excellent Search Engine Optimisation Starter guide – a must read.
- “How to Create Web Content that Works“
- “How to Create Web Content that Works” <– same title but different article with some great points
- “How to Spot and Avoid Web Copy that Kills Websites“
Also note how newspapers use headings -