Full disclaimer: I’m not an expert in web content writing or search engine optimization, but I came to realize a long time ago that writing web content is a daunting process for most people. When my clients hire me to design or build their website, I usually recommend that they hire an expert web content writer where possible. But, I wrote this article several years ago on my old website to help those who are just starting out and don’t have the budget to invest in one. It has been updated slightly…as keeping your content fresh is a key factor in improving SEO and usually helps increase readership.
Why you need to write web content with your audience in mind
Writing your web content is not an easy process. Most know that, in order for people to find their website in a Google search, their content needs to be written with search engine optimization in mind. However, it needs to be written with the audience in mind too. Your content needs to captivate your audience when they arrive on your website as well as keep them there as long as possible.
It needs to engage your audience within the first 5–15 seconds after landing on your website to avoid them leaving before finding out what you offer and how you can help solve their problem. To do that, your content needs to grab their attention immediately, pique their interest and create a desire for what you have to offer.
How to keep your audience once you’ve gained their attention
As mentioned above, I recommend you hire a professional web content writer (I do know some who can help) but, if you don’t have the budget and need to write your own content, below are some useful tips that will hopefully make the process a little easier. One important point to note: If you’re doing it yourself, I recommend you hire an editor or proof reader to check for grammar and spelling errors—at least on the most important pages. Contact me for a referral.)
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Know your website’s goals and the goals of your target audience
When planning your website, you defined your website’s goals and now have a clear understanding of what your target audience needs. This knowledge will help you a great deal in deciding what information you should include in your web content.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors.
- Think about what they want to achieve and focus on how you can help them achieve their goal(s).
- Give them some of the answers they’re looking for but leave them wanting to know more.
- Always provide a means for them to contact you for more information.
Need more help determining your website (or your company’s) goals? Do a S.W.O.T. analysis.
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When writing your content think A.I.D.A.
The first thing your content must do is grab your visitors’ attention. It must then pique their interest and curiosity. To keep your audience on your website, your content then needs to create the desire to learn more. And finally, you must provide a clear “call-to-action“. Many people often forget to include a CTA and lose potential customers/clients, because they don’t know what to do or where to go next!
A. I. D. A. stands for attention, interest, desire and action.
- Attention: Use strong, effective headlines to grab your visitors’ attention
- Interest: Identify with their problems and/or goals to gain their interest
- Desire: Focus on benefits and provide clear promises so that they want what you have to offer
- Action: Make it absolutely clear what actions they need to take to achieve the desired outcome.
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Include keywords and key-phrases in heading tags and paragraphs
You may already know that it’s important to use keywords and key-phrases in your web content as it helps improve search engine optimization. It is also important from an audience stand point. By including keywords in your heading tags (headline and sub-headings), it helps facilitate scanning so your audience can easily get the gist of your content and see if it’s what they were looking for.
Using LSI keywords or key-phrases (similar, substitute or related phrases) in your content —as opposed to using the same ones over and over again—also makes your content more readable. Here are some tips:
- Know your website’s goals, what your audience is looking for and choose key phrases you think potential visitors will enter in a Google search so they can find your site
- Include a focus keyword or key phrase for each page, repeat it a few times in the text—the title, first and last paragraph, and your sub-headings
- Include a variety of LSI (latent semantic index) keywords and phrases in your sub-headings and paragraph content to make your content more readable and searchable
- Conclude each page with a call-to-action that includes the key phrase or LSI keyword.
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Write clearly and concisely with short sentences and paragraphs
Each page in your website should contain around 400-600 words of well-written content. This is enough to aid in search engine optimization, but not so much that it will bore your visitors silly. However, be sure to break your content up with lots of white space, to make it easier to read.
Write in your audience’s own language. Using layman’s terms instead of technical jargon they don’t understand will help readability and maintain their interest. Use too much jargon and they are likely to switch off and leave. Here’s a few tips:
- Write clearly and concisely with short sentences
- Keep paragraphs brief with lots of white space between them
- Break up longer paragraphs with sub-headings and extra paragraph breaks
- Use bullet points and bold text to add emphasis to key points
- Write in the language your audience understands and avoid jargon they don’t understand
- Try to avoid using the passive tense, but instead write as if you are speaking directly to your audience.
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Be creative with your meta tags—page titles and descriptions
When crawling your website looking for keywords and phrases potential visitors are looking for, search engine robots also “read” the background coding (source code) of your web page.
The page title and content contained in special tags called meta tags, found in the “head” area of each web page, help search engines identify any keywords and phrase(s) that match those used in a search request. (Note: the page title tag is different to the title that is visible on the page which is created using the “H1” heading tag. However, for SEO, best practice is to make them as similar as possible.)
If there’s a match, the page title and content from the meta description appear on a search engine results page (or SERP for short). It’s important to realize that the soul purpose of these meta tags is to attract potential visitors to your website to read more. So be creative when writing your title and meta description and make sure they not only include keywords and phrase, but that they are also attention grabbing and enticing.
Here’s a few tips:
- Put yourself in the shoes of your potential visitor and determine the best way to entice them to your website
- Ask questions, such as “What problem are they trying to solve?” or “How can you solve that problem?”
- Use the page title to grab the potential visitor’s attention
- Use the meta description to entice them to visit by letting them know what problem you will solve
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Add images and videos to enhance your content but use text for important messages
They say a picture tells a thousand words. Visitors can learn a lot from the images you include on your website, especially if you sell products or want to showcase past work. Videos or animations that contain images can enhance your web content and may encourage visitors to stay longer. However, don’t substitute written content with image and video files.
Text in visual presentations, videos and animated graphics is, for the most part, not searchable (although there have been some developments with respect to this since I originally wrote this post). Add image captions, alt descriptions (the text you see when an image is missing), and a transcript of your videos that include key phrases so that search engines can find your web page. Alt descriptions are also important (and required by law in some countries) for screen readers used by the visually impaired
Large images, animations and video files are also slow to load and may result in visitors leaving before they finish loading, particularly on mobile devices using cellular data.
Use images, videos and animated graphics for aesthetic, emphasis and demonstration purposes only. Use text-based content for all your important information, particularly your key phrases.
Here’s a few tips:
- Include captions and alt descriptions with keywords to your images
- Include a transcript of your videos
- Optimize any photos, graphics and videos before uploading
- Use the right size image for the container (i.e. don’t put a 1200 px image in a 300 px column)
- Do not set videos to auto-play (EVER)
- Remove very large graphics from mobile versions of your website if possible.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I am by no means an expert web content writer and these are just a few tips. If you need more help improving your content this article may help. Here’s another good article. Both cover more points that I missed and there’s loads more on the internet if you do a Google search.
If you found my tips useful, feel free to comment below and, of course, if you need help with your website, contact me here.