Content Writing and the challenges online
Writing for the web requires a new approach to content. The visitor is in the driver’s seat so the page should be designed as a user-driven experience. You want the visitor to complete a task and for high level pages do it fairly quickly so clean content writing and navigation is important. For product and service pages the parameters change slightly.
Remember if it is not easy for the visitor to understand and navigation they will drop off the site and search elsewhere.
- People read approximately 25% slower online.
- Reading from a screen is tiring on the eyes and screen resolution varies widely depending on the device being used.
- People scan info until they see something that holds their eye.
- The digital generation tends to skip words and content until the zone in on a reference point, usually an image or a heading.
- Older generation will read more carefully and follow a more structure path down a page.
- This is almost always top left to right – Middle Left and then down the page.
- There is a priority of message on a page. Top priority top of page low priority bottom of page.
- There is a priority on the sequence of CTA’s left column get read first then across to the right.
- Mobile design has resulted in a global placeholder for experienced users. This is often a login icon, search, or contact number.
High Level Pages
Create scannable pages for the first time visit by using some of the following techniques
- Write with a clear purpose for the page and use meaningful sub-headings
- Remember your persona’s and who you are writing this for
- Avoid wishy-washy words like some, sort of, etc
- Be concise
- Use bulleted lists
- Keep your structure simple and provide one idea per paragraph
- State what the page is about in the first paragraph to allow for keyword placement
- Close with a reference back to the main page topic
- Write in a personal manner, present tense, plain English
- Avoid TLA’s and jargon (three letter acronyms)
- Use emotional CTA’s with active verbs
Provide Conversion Points
- Create clear Headings and Buttons
- Follow your style guide carefully to build patterning for easy recognition
- Use page elements well. These provide creative anchors on a page
- Quotation Marks
- Box Quotes
- Provide a next step at the end of your content. This can also be a footer page feature in a section
- Use site links in your text
- Provide conversion points that support the section content
- Do not distract the user with unrelated CTA’s
These are pages on the site that deliver more detailed content once a person has travelled down the path you have laid out for them. On these pages we can deliver more content and more substance because the user is now ready to absorb more information. They have slowed down.
We have an opportunity here to also accommodate Google’s search algorithm properly with highly optimized content.
We want to pay particular attention to the following;
- Page title
- Meta description
- Headings 1, 2, 3…
- Keyword Use
- Keyword Density
- Long-tail terms
- Related content
- Page length – 350 word minimum
- Alternate media like Video
We also want to make sure the page is very readable and is appropriate on a phone. With this in mind keep an eye on how your content will stack properly for these smaller devices.
Other considerations for your content;
- Be topical and bring in local references
- Use seasonal trends to your advantage
- Think about parallel inferences for your users. What else are they involved in?
- Write to an emotion and make sure you are providing an emotional anchor in your calls to action
Things to watch out for
Keep in mind that we want to keep the user engaged and entertained without getting messy with the design.
- Use appropriate images that matches your site design
- Avoid conflicts in colour – follow the style guide
- Avoid italics and difficult to read font styles (serif fonts)
- There is no good writing only good rewriting, so don’t try and write a perfect page the first time out. Write your draft and then go back and edit at a later time.
- Don’t rely on others to provide strong content. Have them provide the drafts so you can optimize to pages for SEO and for distribution.
- Don’t write for one audience. Mix it up and make sure you have several categories to write for.
- Don’t wing it – set up a schedule to write your content.
- Don’t be random. Publish often and keep up a steady pace for at least 3 months.
- Don’t ignore old content – go back and update old blogs or pages.
If you write well for your website and take ownership of the task you begin to create a body of work that can be reused and repurposed. As your articles and pages grow in number you move towards a position of authority online. More content is available for general search terms and from reference in social media. This creates inbound link opportunities that support the overall health and success of your presence online.
This also creates an archive for your company or organization and this provides a source of leads as the content is always indexed by the search engines. The quote “Content is King” is ringing true as Content Marketing becomes a more important aspect of your online strategy for success.