How to write an article for website publication

by Gill Fernley

How to write an article for website publication

If you’re not familiar with content writing, you might not realise that there are completely different approaches depending on whether you’re writing a press release, sales copy, a website page, or an article for a website.

There are many reasons for that, but one of the main reasons is that every piece of content you write should have a particular content goal. For example, the goal of a press release will be very different than the goal of an article.

In fact, you really shouldn’t write any content at all for either a client’s site or your own until you know what the aim is for the piece. Which brings us nicely to the first point in this article on how to write an article for website publication:

1. Follow the brief and guidelines

If you’re writing for a client, they should give you a thorough brief to tell you what the goal is for the article, who the target audience is and what they want, how long they want the article to be, tone of voice, and anything else you need to write the best article you can for them.

If you don’t get a brief and you’re not sure what to do, check out Copify’s blog post on how to write the perfect brief. Take a look at the post and then you can work out what questions to ask your client.

Once you have your brief, pay particular attention to the goal the client has for the article, and keep that in mind as you write. You’ll write a whole different article if it’s aimed as a promo article to get the client’s audience to buy than you will if you’re writing epic content to establish your client as an expert in their field.

Top Tip: If your potential client doesn’t give you a proper brief and won’t sign a contract that covers your fee, how many edits, and other important terms and conditions, consider very quickly dropping them like a particularly dodgy, hot potato!

2. Keep the target audience top of mind

After establishing the goal of the article, the most important thing is who the target audience is. The more you know about the audience for the piece, the more you can shape what you write to suit them.

Think that doesn’t matter? Imagine writing an article that’s aimed at millennials who are into rap music and think about what language you’d use and what popular references. Then imagine the same article but this time it’s aimed at retirees who are downsizing.

You’d use completely different language, wouldn’t you? You’d know that both of those audiences have a different outlook, different problems and different aims in life, and you’d write accordingly.

That’s why knowing your target audience thoroughly really matters. You need to know what their problems are, their likes and dislikes, what kind of language they use, what solutions they want, and what really matters to them.

3. Language and tone of voice

The language you use and the tone of voice aren’t just about the target audience’s preferences. Your client is likely to have a particular brand voice that they want you to use, too.

They might cover that in their brief, or they might give you a copy of their brand manual so you can follow their guidelines.

If you look at the content on Ash Ambirge’s site (language warning!), for example, you can see it’s vibrant, fun, humorous, and definitely not shy and retiring. If you wrote for that site, you know you wouldn’t get away with sounding like a stereotypical accountant with the word ‘procedure’ stamped all the way through him like a stick of rock!

The contrast in tone of voice between different sites and types of business can be marked, so you really do need to stick to the client’s preferences.

4. Write a great headline

There are almost 2 billion websites on the internet right now. And counting!

That means you need to get attention in a very crowded arena, and the way you do that is by writing an amazing headline that your target market can’t ignore.

We’re back to knowing your audience as you’ll need to know exactly the right language to appeal to them. But there are some other tips to consider when writing an eye-catching headline:

• Use active voice, rather than passive voice, and use strong and emotional verbs and words. You’ll give your writing more energy that way, and your audience is more likely to click.

• Put a benefit in your headline. Why should your audience click through?

• Don’t use a ridiculous click-bait headline to get attention, unless that’s the type of thing that will appeal to your audience. And if you do that, make sure the content matches your headline or your audience will feel cheated and click away.

• Use at least one keyword that you want your article to rank for in the headline. It’s great for SEO!

• Numbers written as digits are very eye-catching, and more likely to make people click. You can use them to highlight benefits, such as ‘15% off today’, or to tell the audience exactly what they’re getting, for example, ‘7 steps to baking the perfect cake’. That way, they know the article isn’t going to be pages and pages long, and they know exactly what it will do for them.

5. Linking

Use both internal and external linking in your articles.

Internal linking is when you link to other posts and pages on your own site, and external linking is linking to other websites.

Internal linking is brilliant for your search engine optimisation as it helps the search engines find their way around your site and map it. They also look at how many internal links a page has to weigh how important it is.

External linking also helps with SEO. Linking to helpful material on another site is a good way for you to come across as an authority, both to your audience and the search engines. And external links can also help the search engines work out what your content and your site are about. You can also tag sites that you’ve mentioned in your articles on social media, and you may get some likes and shares from that, and also start building a relationship with them.

6. Add an attention-grabbing call to action (CTA)

Remember that you have a goal for your piece of content? This is where you can guide the audience to take the action to meet that goal.

You might want them to sign up to the client’s newsletter, read more information, get a quote, download a freebie, or even buy something, and a call to action can make that happen, if it’s well written.

Writing a great CTA is similar in many ways to writing an eye-catching headline, so follow the tips above to create a strong CTA that will get attention.

In addition, make sure you allow plenty of white space around the CTA and use a colour that stands out on the page to draw attention.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to create attention-grabbing articles that deliver for both your client and their audience.

Main image credit: Tirachard Kumtanom
Internal image credits: rawpixel.commeoVojtech Okenka
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Gill Fernley

The director of her own copywriting firm, Gill writes B2B and B2C content for SMEs and digital marketing agencies. She has a background in performing arts and writes conversational, direct sales copy for businesses on a range of topics. She’s also a keen writer of chick lit.