Have you ever wondered if the content you’re writing on your website sucks?
I’d be lying if I told you that creating content for your website is easy.
The truth is, creating simple content is REALLY hard.
Website content (aka the text or multimedia on your site) is equally as important as the design and functionality of the site itself.
I will repeat: website content is just as important (if not more) the design of your website.
Content is what tells your website viewers who you are and what it is you do, provide or sell.
Content is what drives search engine results, increases traffic to your website and establishes your business as an industry leader. In today’s web-saturated world there is no secret formula for writing website content that works, but there are certainly a number of ways to improve the quality of your website content.
Use the 9-point checklist below to spruce up your website content and provide your audience with content they’ll want to view & share.
1. Know your audience
Knowing WHO your audience is (with any kind of writing) makes perfect sense—because when you understand who you’re trying to reach, it becomes easier to understand how to reach them.
So before you start to create any content for your website, ask yourself:
- Who is reading this?
- What do they need?
- Will this content connect with them?
- What kind of tone will they respond best to?
Your tone might be a conversational or informal style that sounds the way you’d talk to a friend or it might be more formal depending on your audience.
Gather data on your business and clients or use analytics to gain an understanding of what voice will communicate best to them, and then create your website content with them in mind. You can even go a step further and develop user personas of your ideal website visitor, client or customer to truly gain an understanding of your audience.
2. Be yourself
We get it, writing for the web is hard! But please don’t try and write like someone else, your visitors will notice and the energy will be off. Be authentic, honest and even vulnerable at times and you’ll be attracting the genuine attention of your audience faster than all 20 seasons of The Bachelor combined.
3. Keep it simple
Don’t try to use fancy words within your content. If a 12-year-old can understand your vocabulary, you’re doing well. Otherwise, you will lose a lot of readers.
4. Format content properly for the web
Writing for the web is much different than writing for traditional or print media. As the point above briefly stated, please just keep it simple!
Most web content is quickly glanced or scanned over, so try to make it EASY for your readers to break down and “digest” what you are trying to tell them.
Here’s a few ways to format your content so that your website visitors are able to easily find what they need:
- Include an Introduction: Include a brief introduction to give your visitors a clear and concise idea of what they will find in your content.
- Use short paragraphs: Use shorter paragraphs with fewer sentences so that your content is easy to scan and skim.
- Use headings & subheadings: Incorporate headings and subheadings into your content to easily separate specific ideas and topics.
- Highlight important concepts: Your reader should be able to scan through your website content to get the gist of your story. Play around with highlights, bold text, CAPS, or italics (but please don’t overdo it – otherwise none of it will look important).
- Add some bullets or numbered lists: Break up your content by formatting tips, requirements, or other forms of meatier text into bullet or numbered lists to ensure all your content is easily accessible.
- Include a summary or conclusion: At the end of your content, provide a summary of the most important points.
5. Use the words ‘you’ and ‘I’
Using the words ‘you’ and ‘I’ within your content will create a feeling of a conversation between you and your readers, which will keep them engaged longer. A good trick is to picture a good friend who best matches your ideal client and imagine you’re having a real heart to heart.
6. Be a storyteller
The other day I was at my favorite juice bar, Pressed, getting my daily kale, spinach, cucumber, lemon and cayenne shot when you’ll never guess who walked in…Stories are so much more intriguing than straight up sales copy – a story lets your readers get a feel for who you really are. People buy from people they know, like and trust so don’t be afraid to weave personal stories into your website content to build connections. If in doubt, Google ‘story writing ideas’ for handy prompts to get you started.
7. Include one call to action (CTA) per page
Options online generally cause confusion. And confused minds often say ‘no’. So keep it to one CTA per landing page, post or main page of your website. A call to action may be as simple as an invitation to make a purchase or a call to contact your company for more information. In either case, it needs to be compelling enough to prompt the reader to action quickly and easily. You can include one CTA at the beginning of your page, another mid-way through, and again at the bottom of the page or post for good measure.
8. Less text, more multimedia
We highly encourage you to include more than just text in your content. Multimedia, such as photos, videos, charts or tables, infographics, or even a humorous GIF, can make your content more interesting and useful to your readers. Often times, when speaking to your audience, you may come across technical topics that are easier to explain by using a visual representation, in addition to text.
9. Don’t forget about the web “scanners”
If you’re still asking yourself, “how do people read for the web?” it’s important to understand they don’t.
79 percent of your website visitor will just scan your website rather than read it word-by-word (source: Jakob Nielsen).
So, after you have created your content, ask yourself the following questions to ensure your visitors can easily access and understand the information you’re presenting simply by scanning over your site:
- Does your headline communicate what you’re about?
- Do your sub headlines summarize your key points?
- Does your visual + caption communicate a sales message?
- Do bullet points or lists reduce unreadable walls of text?
- Do you include one CTA option, with two to three links max?
Whether you are writing for B2B or B2C audience, here are some general writing tips you need to follow to ensure your content is ready for the web:
Website content lesson #1: Use language your audience will understand.
Website content lesson #2: Focus on writing great content first. You’ll improve your skills each time.
Website content lesson #3: Creating great content is only half the battle. Promoting it is the other half.