We are in the design business, and know first-hand the importance of compelling images, colors, fonts and layout. We’ve also been in the game long enough to know that these design elements can fall flat if website content isn’t engaging, purposeful and timely. Writing great website content must be a mix of many things so we have written a few rules that one must follow when creating great website content:
The “Ten Second Rule”
Studies show that a website will either grab or lose someone’s attention in the first ten seconds. There are a few key writing elements that will aid in grabbing the user’s attention right out of the gate:
- Headlines: Designed to grab your reader’s attention, ideal headlines must use powerful words and be short and to the point. What are the main themes that you want your reader to take away? Headlines are of utmost importance because not only do they tell your reader what he or she will be reading, studies show that headlines actually influence the way people read content and how they remember it.
Don’t be afraid to use more than one headline! Work with your web design team to place multiple headlines throughout the web page as they can act as informal outline for your webpage, acting as a guide for your reader.
- Writing Style: The key to knowing what writing style is ideal for your site is knowing who you are writing for. Who is your audience, or your target demographic? Once you have nailed this down, it is important to use words, terms and phrases that this audience easily understands. Ideally, you want to incorporate brand terminology that sets you apart as a thought leader, while being friendly and accessible.
- Action! The average reader may not detect passive versus active voice, but how the reader feels will be noticed. Passive voice dilutes the excitement of a phrase or sentence making the content feel dull and uninspired.
Here is a noteworthy example: The phrase “the village is attacked by a lion” is in passive voice, but this same sentence, written in active voice, reads, “the lion attacks the village.” The active voice, in this scenario, is the difference between picturing the lion attacking the village and merely reading about it.
Attention Spans are Key
On average, the attention span for website readers is shorter than those who read novels. Perhaps it’s the purpose and type of content that website readers are consuming, or because websites are for product knowledge or purchasing a product whereas novels are more of a pleasure read. Whatever the reason, we must keep content short and sweet to keep the attention span of our readers. But if you have a lot to say, there are a few tricks you can use to make the content easier to digest:
- Chop it Up: Keep your paragraphs and sentences as short as possible. It is not necessarily the number of short paragraphs or sentences you have, but how easy it is for the reader to digest. A good rule of thumb: a five-line paragraph is great, but a three line paragraph is even better!
- Edit for Value: As you edit your work, keep asking the most important question: “Why?” Why should someone care about what you are writing? What value does it provide them? If the word, phrase, or sentence in question doesn’t have any value, then re-write or get rid of it until it does. Providing value is of utmost importance in keeping your reader’s attention.
Your Kid Should Be Able to Read It
Yes you read correctly, website writing should be easy to read. A middle schooler should be able to make sense of it. Due to the level of speed in which someone is reading a webpage, the writing must be at an easy reading level so that the user can quickly scan it and gather all the information they need. Not sure how your reading fits? Check out this tool to test it out!
- Length: There’s no set best practice for length, however, keep in mind your medium. A web page should always avoid excessive text as it may scare the reader off. A good method to make sure that your text isn’t excessive is to remove every word that doesn’t drip with meaning. After a while, you’ll see how much text you’ve cut!
- Include a Call To Action: Including a CTA at the bottom of every web page is imperative. Why? Because acquiring a new customer, generating a new sale, or creating loyal fans is exactly what all your writing and effort is all about. Your CTA will differ depending on the goals you’ve set for your website, but it could be an email submission, make a purchase, visit your social media links, and more!
SEO is the Secret Sauce
Of course, you’ve heard that SEO is key when writing website content, but it’s not just the presence of the keywords that make a difference. To make the most impact, keywords must be written into the copy.
- Context Matters: Get a dedicated keyword list from your SEO team and keep these where you can see them as you write. If these words can be written into your copy seamlessly and provide value, then use them. If not, then do not force it.
Keywords that are thrown into copy for the sake of merely making an appearance run the risk of feeling too “salesy” or repetitive.
- Interlinking: Interlinking is an important SEO strategy, one that is often forgotten. When applicable, try and link one word to another page within your site. Don’t limit these to pages to only ones relevant to the article. Instead, try and link others to different internal pages so they see the amazing facets of your business!
Ultimately, writing website copy is not for the faint of heart. It requires due diligence to word choice, and intentionality to length, headlines, and demographics. While it’s true you know your brand best, how connected you are to it will be your biggest downfall. When you’re too close, you can often interject your own assumptions into the writing and throw it’s trajectory off course.
One solution to this common problem is to hire a digital agency with designated writers who specialize in learning the ins and outs of your brand, putting your desired content into its best form and organization for your webpage. Digital agencies have the expertise to craft the words you need to help your website garner the results you are looking for. If you need new website copy, don’t hesitate to contact us today!