In general, writing is a time consuming and hard work, but writing content for the web is even more so. Studies show that at least 55% of site visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a webpage. To beat these statistics, content writing for the web has to be better than good, it must be interesting, engaging, and relevant, in addition to the other characteristics of good web content.
The best content writers out there make equal use of research, creativity and science when crafting their content. You too can write like them and hold the attention of internet readers when you follow tips from this complete beginners’ guide to content writing for the web.
Put Your Key Information First
There’s a world of difference between writing an essay or a paper and writing for the web. With an essay for instance, you might begin with an explanation of what you are writing about. Then, offer an overview of the literature surrounding the topic, followed by the main body of the work and end with the most important point coming in at the conclusion. With web pages on the other hand, the most essential points always come first. For example, users looking for a local furniture cleaning service online, will need to see a furniture cleaning service that is based in their location or close by. If they want a furniture cleaning service specialised in fabric furniture cleaning, then a content headline such as fabric furniture cleaning service in Oxford would be more interesting to click on.
Generally, the most important information for web visitors starts with a simple statement of what you do. The knowledge of this might create interest in related details, then some background information. This kind of writing is what journalists call the inverted pyramid. This means the main purpose of your writing is captured in the first paragraph of your content. Therefore, give your readers the big picture first.
Think like A Search Engine
There are a lot of ways for readers to find web content, from social media sharing to email sharing, links from other websites and search engine results. Content writers need to pay special attention to traffic coming in through the search engine results. No matter how well written and relevant web content is, if it is not optimised for search engines, not a lot of people are going to find it. While researching for content therefore, think about your audience, their perspectives and the sort of search terms they would type into Google. Then be sure to include those terms in content headlines and sub headers to get the most engagement.
Before you begin to write, some background research is important. Research for content writing is two-fold – keyword research and topic research. You can dramatically increase the number of people who actually view your piece of content by using relevant, well researched keywords throughout. The chances of web browsers finding your content when searching for a topic online is significantly increased when you add the right keywords to your content as organically as possible. Performing keyword research to discover the most popular search terms and keywords for your brand and topic is therefore a good idea, because you can put them in seamlessly as you write.
With good topic research, you won’t be going into your writing blind. Even if you are not writing content for your own business or brand, you need to have a real understanding of the topic you are writing about, and the audience you are writing for. While researching, take into consideration:
- The purpose of the content (to drive sales, encourage email signups or boost web traffic)
- The tone required
- Intended audience
- Content structure
Remember To Hyperlink to Sources
It is good internet protocol to hyperlink back to a site when you make reference to their content, besides, you’d expect the same consideration. Always cite your sources in your content, and if you’re worried about sending your web traffic to another site, there’s the option to ‘open link in another window’, so that you can keep your traffic. In addition to being the right thing to do, you will earn backlinks as a result. Sometimes, the sites you link to will notice and appreciate your effort with a reciprocal link or a quote.
Plan for Visitors to Land Anywhere On Your Website
Not all your website visitors will start from your homepage. Unlike when reading a book, where people generally start from the beginning to the end, site visits can begin from any of your web pages. In preparing each page to be the first thing a user sees, you’ll need to ensure that the content for each page is easy to scan, and people should be clear about where they are and what your site is about. In addition, there should be a call to action telling people the next action to take, whether to sign up for your weekly email newsletters, read another blog post, request a quote, add a product to a shopping cart or to check out a testimonial or product description.
Your navigation bar cannot do all the work for you. On each page, guide people to the next step by including a button or link with clear action calls. Need to see exactly how many web visitors arrived on your web page? Google landing pages can help you discover where people arrive on your website.
Write Easy-to-Scan Content
Scannable content makes it easy for readers to quickly find what they are looking for. Therefore, instead of paragraphs upon paragraphs of text, use bullet points or numbered lists. Organise your content into labelled tabs instead of a long page of text.
White space, which is the empty space surrounding paragraphs, images and other elements on a page, also makes content easy to skim, the text seems more readable, and engaging.
Dividing content into smaller chunks with descriptive sub headers is also important. Make use of the heading function to achieve the same results in your content. A large heading or H1 can be used at the top of each page, medium headings or H2 for the main content and smaller headings or H3, if you have to break down your H2 further.
Write To Be Heard
Content filled with complex sentences and unnecessarily big words, by web standards is poor content. Unless you are writing a highly niche and technical topic, visitors of varying education levels should be able to read and understand your content. Try to convey your message in a clear and relatable tone, so that even people who speak English as a second language, can understand you too. There are some free tools that can be used to analyse your content vocabulary level and rate how readable it is.
Know Your Audience
It’s simple – before you begin to type, think about who you are trying to reach. Ask yourself, who is my main target audience? Is there a secondary target audience who can both influence and inform my main audience? If for instance, you are writing content for a legal website, your main audience might be existing and potential clients of the firm. However, your secondary audience spans a broader range and includes other attorneys from different firms, legal reporters and anyone who might need your web content writing services in the future. Therefore, your content needs to be interesting and accessible by both categories of audiences. Decide on the kind of information they need and the kinds of questions they might ask on a certain topic, and provide it in a great content.
Make Use of Multimedia
When it comes to content writing for the web, a picture, video or infographic is worth a thousand words. According to research, the human brain receives 90% visual information, and people can process information presented in visual form 60,000 times faster than text. Canva and Piktochart are only two of a large number of services available online to help you make appropriate graphics for your content. With multimedia content, you can break up text into small, easily digestible chunks that your readers will appreciate.
Leave Them Wanting More
Good webpage content ends with a call to action. Let your reader know if there is a person they can contact for more information, an interesting and related video they should watch or a relevant blog post they can read. Using this strategy will direct your readers to other areas of your website, make them engage more with your content. Guide them to a report or infographic they can download, and encourage them to share your content with their friends and family. However, the calls-to-action should be as concise as possible. Hyperlink clear action verbs such as ‘share’, ‘watch’, ‘subscribe’, or ‘download’ will really draw your readers’ attention to what you want you want to achieve.
For beginners, this guide to content writing for the web may seem like too much to pack into a single piece of content. With practice however, it’ll become like second nature and you’ll find yourself creating top notch content that your readers and search engines will love.