Writing Content For The Web

Writing content for the web will be an essential part of your online business. The quality of your website copy affects whether visitors will actually read your pages and take action on your information.

On the internet, people get impatient and read content differently than they do in print. You need to be able to communicate your information quickly and concisely, because if you don't catch their attention in the first few seconds, visitors will hit the back button. Use the following suggestions for writing content for the web to help keep visitors on your website.

Write In a Style That Your Readers Can Relate To

The internet is a more informal media than traditional print, so it is easier to make your copy more engaging to your readers. How informal and personal should your writing be? This depends on the type of business you have.

Unless you are trying to convey technical details, you don't want your copy to be so dry that it comes across like a lecture. For many types of websites, you can use a more informal style of writing content for the web, such as writing like you would speak with your best friend.

When writing content for the web, try to keep your sentences simple and easy to read, using words that everyone can understand. Avoid using figures of speech, because not all readers will be familiar with these terms. You also want to eliminate any filler words that don't really add anything to your content.

Focus On One Subject

When writing content for the web, each page should be about one of your most profitable keywords. Stick with the theme of your website and only include information about your specific keyword. If you want to introduce another subject, write another article.

Outlines Help When Writing Content for the Web

Plan ahead and don't just make it up as you go along. An outline helps organize your thoughts and lay out how you want to present your content.

Include Good Headlines to Get Your Reader's Attention

The first text that people will see on your page will be your headline. You should put a lot of thought and effort into your headline when writing content for the web. If it does not get your visitors attention right away, they will move on without even reading your content.

You can also use sub-headlines for the same effect. Sub-headline text is usually larger and bolder than the body text, so it will help to break up your page into sections.

The key to using headlines successfully is to make them relevant to your visitor. Because readers tend to scan internet pages, providing descriptive sub-headlines will help them locate the information that they are seeking. Also, by skimming over the headlines, your readers should be able to get a general summary of what your article is about.

Put Your Most Important Information at the Top

Website visitors will scan the very top of your page to see if it is worth reading, so you need to get to the point right away. You can do this by:

  • identifying a situation that your reader may be facing
  • including statistics that relate to your content
  • presenting a brief story that reflects what you will be talking about
  • defining a term that you will be discussing
  • asking a question that entices your visitor to keep reading

Of course, there are many ways to grab your reader's attention. You just want to make sure that you generate enough interest from the beginning to keep them reading.

Focus on One Idea per Paragraph

Write one paragraph for each of the different points that you want to make. By doing so, your visitor can scan for the important information without getting lost. Your first paragraph should establish the main benefits of the article for your visitor, while your other paragraphs can discuss each of the main points. Make sure that every bit of information is useful to your visitor when writing content for the web.

Use White Space to Break Up Text

Including white space will help your visitors rest their eyes as they read your page. White space draws attention to the text that follows and can take many forms:

  • the open area around your headline,
  • the extra line spacing between paragraphs,
  • the area between columns of text,
  • and the area at the top of your page between your logo and headline.

Use Lists Effectively

You can use bulleted or numbered lists instead of using commas to separate more than three items. This allows reader to skim the information faster and requires less effort to read.

Don't Overdo Your Special Effects

Here are some things that you want to avoid or keep to a minimum when writing content for the web:

  1. Use italics sparingly - long lines of italicized text are difficult to read.
  2. Use bold text only when appropriate - Bold text should be used mainly for emphasis and sub-headlines.
  3. Use color sparingly - If you must highlight an important point in a different color, limit it to as few words as possible.
  4. Don't use all capitals - Writing a lot of text in all uppercase letters is considered shouting, plus it makes the text difficult to read.
  5. Don't underline text unless it is a link - People reading content on the internet expect underlined text to be a hyperlink, so if it doesn't lead somewhere new, don't underline it.
  6. Keep your graphics to a minimum - People tend to ignore graphics in favor of text, so don't include a lot of graphics unless they directly relate to the subject that you are discussing

Conclude With a Strong Message

You should conclude your content with a message that summarizes your article and gets your reader to take further action. This might be a link to purchase a product or to go to the next logical article in the series.

If you include a link, use descriptive wording instead of just saying, "Click here". Let your reader know what they will find through the words contained in your link. For example, if we had written a page about cat food, we might include the following link at the bottom of our page:

"In our opinion, Purina Brand Cat Food offers the best nutritional value for the price."

Edit Your Content

Don't assume that your first draft is the best that you can do. Take a break from your writing and come back after a few hours. This will allow you to read your content from a new perspective.

Consider every word from your visitor's point of view. Your content should be useful, informative, and rewarding to them. If it is not, revise what you have written. Go back and try to make your writing even clearer. Maybe you can find a better way to write a sentence where it makes more sense.

A general rule for writing content for the web is that internet pages should contain about half as many words as printed material. I don't think that this is always possible, but when reading over your copy, ask yourself if there is a shorter way to convey your message. Edit your content so that it says what you want by using the fewest words possible.

Proof Read Your Content

After you have revised your material, you will also need to proof read it. You can use the spell-checker on your computer, but don't rely on it to catch everything. It is a good idea to print out a copy of your page and read it out loud. This makes it easier to find spelling and grammatical errors.

If you can, try to get someone else to read it for you also. Sometimes it is hard for the person who writes the article to catch errors, because they already know what the material should say.

Writing Content for the Web - An Ongoing Process

This has been a crash course to web writing, but really learning how to write content for the web is an ongoing process. You need to develop total clarity on the purpose of every headline, sub-headline, link, and paragraph that you write. You also need to have a complete understanding of your website visitors in order to write effectively for your target audience. To get a better grasp of writing content for the web, I would suggest reading Make Your Content Pre Sell by Ken Evoy. This book goes into great detail on all aspects of writing for the internet.

In our next lesson, we will begin discussing strategic internet marketing for your website.

Next: Web Site Marketing Strategies
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