5 Website Content Writing Tips
[toc]Writing for the web is unlike any other style of writing. Academic writing thrives on long paragraphs, complex sentences and developed ideas. Fiction writing breaks the boundaries of style to explore tone and narrative. Non-fiction varies between bleak and exciting. Website content writing is fast, hard-hitting and easy to read.
Take that paragraph for example. How many people read it? How many people are reading this one? When you write for the web, you have to realize that many people won’t read the majority of the words you write. The average attention span of a web reader drops out halfway through a Twitter post. Your goal is to deliver as much information as you can in as short a format as possible, while still presenting detailed information for anyone who chooses to investigate further.
Here are five tips for website content writing. Keep them in mind and you should be able to write compelling content that encourages readers to stick around.
1. Keep it Simple
Simplicity. When you’re writing for the web, you want to keep your writing as simple as possible. Run-on sentences should be avoided at all costs. If it can’t be spoken in a single breath, it shouldn’t be written in a single sentence.
Another key to simplicity is word choice. Utilizing complex phrases, leveraging the outstanding intelligence of your autonomous readership, alienates an increasingly enormous percentage of your users. In other words, never write a sentence you need to use other words to explain. If you’re sending your users to the dictionary, they aren’t reading your content. Chances are they aren’t coming back.
Short sentences work best. Phrase things such that you deliver as much meaning in as few words as possible. At the same time, avoid using filler sentences. Anything that doesn’t serve a purpose for your article or blog post needs to be cut. If you bore your readers, it doesn’t matter how relevant your content is, they won’t be back for more.
Don’t forget to maintain a certain tone in your writing. If you’re writing a corporate blog post, you want to be as professional as possible. If you’re writing for a casual
Image by Jen Brook
“To simplify complications is the first essential of success.”
– George Earle Buckle
entertainment blog, you can inject some humor and slang from the industry. This brings us to our next point.
Image by Von Wong
2. Maintain Relevance
Maintaining content relevance is one of the most important thing to increase your autority and your SEO.
When you’re writing website content, you’re writing for a specific audience. You might be writing for readers of a long-established blog about entrepreneurship. You might be writing for a start-up humor blog. You might be writing product descriptions for light switch covers. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing for as long as your writing is tailored to it.
Webmasters, particularly those who hire outside writers, love search engine optimization. SEO is an entire industry focused on keywords, keyword density, Meta data and links. When writing website content, you should keep all of this in mind. The shortest hundred-word product description generally has one or two keywords in it. Longer blog posts have keywords to focus on.
One huge part of SEO today is relevant content. Google, the kings of SEO, have decreed that the best SEO strategy is high quality content. Don’t struggle to fit keywords into an article — write a good article about the keywords and they fit in naturally.
Image by Keen Observer9
3. Write for Scanning
How many people clicked a link, came to this article and started reading? How many of those people are still reading? How many of those people are reading this paragraph, word for word? Chances are that final number is very small. As mentioned above, most people have a very short attention span on the Internet.
Part of this is the typical computing device. What are people using to read your articles? Chances are, the monitor they’re using is a standard LCD screen. Have you ever used a computer in the dark? LCD screens are large light bulbs, so the average computer user is staring at a light source. Believe it or not, staring into the light to read content is unpleasant. It’s a subtle effect, but it means most people don’t pay a lot of attention to detail on the web.
Writing for the scanning user is essential. While this article isn’t making use of the tactic, one website content writing technique is to bold key phrases for more meaning. Users will scan for headlines and read for detail that interests them. Bolded sentences stand out and draw attention, packing more meaning into fewer paragraphs.
Image by sara anne haas
4. Proof Your Work
People who write for the Internet are trying to establish themselves as an authority in the subject matter. This may mean an entrepreneur sharing their secrets. It might also mean a ghostwriter imitating a style. No matter who does the writing, the result is the same — a piece of content published on the web intending to be an authoritative piece.
Nothing kills authority quite like a typo (depending on your niche and audience really). Misspelled words, grammatical errors and other minor inconveniences are devastating in a web context . You want to be an authority, so you want to avoid looking as if a toddler wrote your article. Before you hit the publish button, run your piece through a spell checker. Better yet, run it through a checker that will search out grammatical errors and offer suggestions.
“It’s important to proof your work to make sure everything is perfect…” by Jessica Kwok
Automated grammar checkers will work, to a degree. No machine or algorithm is sensitive enough to catch everything. A misused word can slip through in any website content writing. Quirks of grammar may be correct and still trip a flag. Nothing replaces grammatical knowledge. Writing in word first and then copying to your website is a good idea. Don’t start writing directly on your editor, use word to check for errors.
Image by Fervent Photographer
5. Drive Conversation
The Internet is quickly becoming a social place. You might write an article and post it on your website. It might have a comments section, and you might end the article by saying, “tell us what you think in the comments.” You might share the article in a Facebook post, which has another comments section attached. You might get an SEO boost by sharing it on Google+, which has yet another comments section attached. Anyone who re-shares the article has another comment section for more conversation.
You want to encourage this conversation. You want to ask your audience to chat in the comments. Tell us what you think! Do you comment on articles when you read them? How much of each article do you read? If you’re the type who scans an article for relevant points, what did you get out of this one? One of the keys to website content writing is encouraging this discussion. A good webmaster will continue to share their knowledge in the comments and, if the discussion warrants it, write a supplementary blog post to address frequent comments.
So now that you know how important the feeback is…
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