“How do you write content for a website?”
This is one of the big questions asked by website owners. This task can be overwhelming, especially when it is someone’s first time doing it.
We hope the tips below which are ordered by importance will help put your mind at ease and make the entire process easier for you.
Organize What you want to Write!
If you are starting from scratch the easiest way to write content is by breaking it up into logical pieces and then tackling each piece of content by itself. Therefore we recommend breaking your website down into pages, and then break those pages up into sections. For example most businesses offer some sort of service, so you will most likely have a separate details page for it. You could then break this service page down into the following sections:
- Service Overview
- Summary List of Features
- Detailed Description
- Social Proof (testimonials)
- Call to Action (contact us)
Already you can see how this makes it easier for writing website content as it gives you a plan and talking points. The bonus for this layout you just created is that it can be used for any other services the business offered. In fact this is recommended as you want a consistent design across your entire website.
If you are having your website designed by eSilverStrike Consulting, then we have done a lot of this work already for you. By creating the Sitemap and then the Website Mockup at the beginning of the project it gives a structure and page layouts for the content creators to use. It visually shows each page organized in a hierarchy, which are then broken down by sections, headlines, and then by individual pieces of content. When you have this information available for content writing, it automatically breaks down the work into manageable pieces.
For content writing at eSilverStrike Consulting, we provide you with the Content Workbook and Content Worksheets for each page. Each worksheet has a Details and Content section.
The Details section includes (among other things):
- Page Title
- Page Description (basically the purpose of the page)
These are an important part of every page and you need to include them for search engine optimization (SEO). It will also help you when writing the text copy of the page as it will give you talking points. The Details section also includes a link back to the actual page on the Website Mockup so you can see how your content will be laid out.
In the Contents section of the worksheet, each content piece required is numbered which you can then find the corresponding number on the page in the Website Mockup. We also include on the worksheet specific tips where needed for the piece of content which includes extra instructions about what the content should be about and how to go about writing it.
Define your Target Audience
You may think your website is for your business but you are wrong. You are creating the website for your audience. So everything from the design to the content, you must look at it from your primary/target audience perspective. You need to ask yourself:
“Is this information the target audience will be looking for to solve their problem?”
That’s why you need to identify and define who your target audience is, why they would visit your site (and the page), and how you can solve their problems.
When you write for your target audience, you also need to think about your secondary audience which is search engines. Search engines like Google, control how people find your website. The thing is, search engines do not understand content like a human does. They instead look at how pages are structured and organized by sections and headlines (thanks to tip #1 we already have this covered). They also look at signals found in text copy and these include keywords and phrases people would use when searching for similar content. That is why we want you to define common keywords for each page on the Content Worksheet. It is important to include these keywords through out your content. This does not mean you pepper your content with endless repeating keywords, that doesn’t help your visitors at all. You just want to make sure your list of keywords is used at least a few times through out the page naturally.
Remember, you should always write text copy for your visitors (instead of search engines), but when doing so, be sure to think about SEO.
Research what your Competitors are doing!
If you are getting your website designed by eSilverStrike Consulting, this is something we have already done during the creation of the Sitemap and Website Proposal.
For content creation you need to review your competition websites from your target audience point of view to get ideas on what to write about. This requires reading and analyzing all the pages of their websites.
You need to determine what have they done right, and wrong. Look at what would grab your target audiences attention and what would not. Make notes and include URLs of pages you like, so you can go back and review as needed for ideas when you are writing your own pages.
The Purpose and Goals of each page!
Each page needs a purpose, and a goal. The reason a visitor comes to your page is they either want information about your business, or information about how to solve a problem they have. Therefore the general purpose of the page is to supply them with the information or solution to their problem, with your goal for them to perform an action afterwards. This is where the call to action (CTA) comes in. It is a section (or sections) of the page that highlights what you want them to do, using a headline, short description, and with a button (like signup, call now, learn more, etc.) that allows them to perform this goal or action.
With a CTA their are a few general rules you should follow. It should be clear and to the point of what the visitor will be doing. Ideally each page should have one call to action. This call to action can be repeated throughout the page but stays on message to keep things consistent. Some pages can have more than one CTA but these are special cases like the home page or services page.
Once again those of you having your website designed by eSilverStrike Consulting will have the Sitemap which includes page descriptions already, along with the Website Mockup that includes simplified versions of each page with placeholder content so you can see how the content will be laid out visually. This is a great reference tool while creating content and means less work for you since we have already broken down all the pages into sections for displaying content, and sections with calls to actions labeled.
Simplify Your Content!
Studies show most visitors do not read the entire webpage but skim them for the information they are looking for. They are not looking for a novel so this means we should format content in a way to make it easy to digest and understand.
To do this you do not want to overburden the visitor with a big block of text. Keep paragraphs short with only 3 to 5 sentences. If your paragraph has more, consider breaking it up with sub headlines and/or use bullet points. You also want to keep sentences short as well. The reading level of content for a typical website is usually at the middle school level (grade 6 to 8).
On the page, the most important information should be first, with targeted calls to action sprinkled through out.
Style of Writing!
This is where the mood (atmosphere, tone, voice, personality) of the website comes in as defined in the Style Guide. The mood does not only reflect the design and media of the site but the text copy as well. If the mood of the site is fun and playful then your writing must reflect that. Likewise, if the mood is more formal and modern like on a website for a Law Firm, then you are going to portray this in your writing. The mood of the site does depend on the industry and target audience for your business.
In most cases you should write naturally and conversationally. You should avoid jargon and acronyms popular in your industry, as most visitors probably do not understand them (remember your content should be for someone at a middle school reading level).
You want trust and honesty to flow from your copy so avoid the sleazy marketing/sales guy tactics.
Since you are writing for your target audience, it is recommended in most cases to write from their perspective. You want to make your website about them, and not you. Avoid using We, Us, Our or I in your text copy. People connect more when the message is about them.
- We offer quality products at a low price. >>> Sounds better to the reader as >>> You will find low prices and quality products.
- Our Gym has the latest equipment. >>> Sounds better to the reader as >>> Feel good and look great using the newest gym equipment.
Perspective also needs to be considered when listing features of a product or service. Instead of a list of features, it is better to list the benefits to your audience. Most visitors want to know what they personally get out of it, and not what features make the product or service look good.
- Sharp Picture Quality >>> Sounds better to the reader as >>> See the smallest details
- Largest Selection >>> Sounds better to the reader as >>> Find anything you want
Share with your Peers
When writing content it is easy to focused on what we think it should be. Through out the process bounce ideas off your peers. They could maybe steer you in a better direction and have a different insight about your target audience.
It’s also important to get someone familiar with your industry and target audience to proof read your copy not only for grammar and spelling, but for the style, flow, and the actual material. It’s amazing what a little help can do to make your content shine.
We are only scratching the surface here but hopefully these tips along with others we have listed in the Content Workbook will help avoid some common mistakes and allow you to create content that will appeal to your target audience and allow your website to reach its goals.