Most businesses understand that they need to up their content game. After all, with 400 million active websites now in existence, standing out from the crowd has never been more difficult.
Although effective website content writing is the key to improving brand perception, conversion rates and web traffic, writing for the web isn’t as straightforward as it seems. If you’re new to website content writing, read on to find out how to make sure your copy gets the attention it deserves.
6 tips for effective website content writing
1. Put the most important information first
“To build strong web content, give away your main point, your best information, at the very beginning” – Julia McCoy
Web users have short attention spans. In fact, they spend an average of just 5.59 seconds looking at written content. This means you need to make sure they can find the information they are searching for as soon as they land on your page.
To grab and keep their attention, structure your content using the inverted pyramid. A technique typically utilised by journalists, the most important message goes at the top. You can then share more details and background information underneath. If they like what they see as soon as they land on your page, visitors are more likely to continue reading.
Rob Powell provides an in-depth guide to using the inverted pyramid when writing for the web here.
2. Keep it simple
Website visitors are on the lookout for a certain product or service, so making your content scannable is essential. You’ll lose web users quickly if they have to read long paragraphs of information to find the answer they’re looking for, so keep your sentences short and simple.
As a rule of thumb, keep paragraphs to 2-3 sentences and use line breaks. Remember, you’re not writing a book, so don’t worry if an idea doesn’t feel completely ‘finished’ before starting a new paragraph. If it’s logical, use numbered and bulleted lists to break up your content too.
Another great tip is to avoid using unnecessary words, including adjectives and adverbs if possible. Instead, focus on using verbs and nouns and address your readers directly by using the word ‘you’.
3. Use the active voice
Using active voice rather than passive voice can really help to transform your web content. As well as putting the reader in the moment, it generates a stronger connection to the action you’re wanting visitors to take and makes it easier for people who comprehend text at a lower reading level to understand your message.
Put simply, active voice is when a sentence has a subject which acts upon its verb, whereas passive voice means a subject is the recipient of a verb’s action. Overall, the active voice is more direct and makes sentences more succinct.
Active: The company requires staff to watch a health and safety video every year.
Passive: The staff are required by the company to watch a health and safety video every year.
Active: Alex wrote the essay on Alzheimer’s Disease
Passive: The essay on Alzheimer’s Disease was written by Alex
4. Know what you’re writing about
Before you even start writing web content, you need to know what it is you’re actually writing about. Ask yourself who your target audience is and how they will find the site.
For example, if you’re creating website content for a dental clinic, your target audience will be their existing patients, but the secondary audience will be much wider, including anyone who might need their services in the future. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure your content is interesting and accessible to all of these people.
Think carefully about what information they need, where they are most active online and how they will prefer to get in touch with the clinic to make an enquiry.
5. Don’t keyword stuff
Website content should educate and engage your readers, but it won’t serve this purpose if it is stuffed full of keywords. When you start trying to trick Google and stop focusing on the quality of your content, it begins to look untrustworthy, sending people away from your page and increasing your bounce rate, which will harm your ranking in the search engine results pages.
The best thing to do here is to choose a primary keyword for each page. Make sure they are relevant to the website and the content being created. For example, keywords for a dental clinic might include ‘family dentist’, ’emergency dentist’ and ‘dentist near me’. However, it’s important to ensure you don’t overuse them in your writing and you only use a keyword where it feels natural. ‘Wisdom tooth extraction’ would probably look out of place on a page about children’s dental services.
Most SEO experts believe that an ideal keyword density is 1-2%, so on a page with 300 words of content, you’re aiming to include the keyword around three times. However, you shouldn’t just place your primary keyword in the main body content. To fully optimise a page, try and use the keyword in the following areas:
• Page title
• One subheading
• Meta description
• Title tag
• One image alt tag
• First paragraph
6. Always include a call-to-action
Good website content ends with a strong call-to-action, but make sure it is succinct – the last thing you want to do is confuse the reader.
Popular calls-to-action include signing up to a newsletter, downloading brochures or reports, contacting the business for more information, or reading a related blog post. This strategy also helps direct users to other areas of your website and can even encourage them to share your content on their own social media channels.
Good verbs to use in your calls-to-action include ‘sign up’, ‘share’, ‘download’ and ‘learn more’. Don’t forget to include hyperlinks so the reader can actually carry out the action you’re asking them to take.
Writing any content is hard, but mastering effective website content writing is even harder. By following the tips above, you’ll soon be creating copy which engages website users and encourages them to take action. Or you may wish to consider taking a copywriting course to give yourself the edge. For more advice browse the rest of the Copify blog.