A good-looking website is always a bonus when you’re trying to make a great first impression, but how is your content shaping up?
When I say content, I’m not talking about images or other design elements that make up the typical web page, but what does your web page say?
- Does it inform the visitor about your business?
- Does it tell them what you do?
- Does it lead them to act?
When you start the writing process keep the following in mind:
- What you are going to say?
- Who you are saying it to?
- How you are going to say it?
- What action do you want your visitor to take?
That last point is important. If you don’t tell your visitors exactly what you want them to do, then the most likely outcome is they won’t do anything at all.
Read on to find out how you write content that is compelling and turns curious visitors into informed, engaged and paying customers.
How to Start
Pencil some time into your schedule to create content for your site. Sit down at your computer, turn off your grammar checker, turn off your “inner-editor” and just start writing.
- Use Notepad because that’s about as raw an editor as you can get.
- Turn off all distractions. Yes, that includes Facebook and your phone.
- Pay no attention to the flow of the text; write from the heart.
If it helps, start with an outline. Nothing formal, just a quick list of the essential points you want to cover. Then go back and drill down into the finer details.
Don’t forget; this is only the first draft, so let it all out. Don’t work about spelling, run-on sentences, grammar, etc. Just get what you want to say on paper.
When you finish the first draft, take a break and step away for a while. Later, it will be time to filter out the fluff, so you’re only left with pure spun gold.
When you return, focus on tightening up the sentences. Is it easy to follow what you are saying? Is the point you are making clear? Try to think like a first-time visitor to your site who is looking for specific information. Is what they want buried in your content or is it easy to find and in a logical order?
Here are some more tips for creating web content
You are Not Writing a Book
A visitor on your site hasn’t arrived in a relaxed frame of mind like they would be when settling down to a good book.
They are there for a reason. Usually, your visitors are on the hunt for information, and their senses are on high alert.
If your copy doesn’t get to the point and rope them in fast, then it’s the back button for you.
In a matter of seconds (literally – you have three seconds), your visitor will decide whether your business is the one which can solve their problems, or not. If they don’t get what they need from your web page, then their next action will be to revisit the search engine results to try again.
Get to the Point Early On
Regardless of how long your web copy is going to be, it’s essential you get to the point early on the page.
Give your visitors the relevant points about what they want to know right out of the gate. Bullet points are good for this. They can always read more if they want.
You should also include a clear call-to-action above the fold, which is a fancy way of saying the viewable area of a web page before a visitor needs to scroll. “Read more”, download whitepaper or “get a quote” are good above the fold calls-to-action.
Another way to get to the point is a simple list all the benefits they will get if they use your services/products.
Designing your copy in this way means you can satisfy the search engines with meaty enough content and give your readers what they want as well.
How Long Should Your Web Content Be?
A common answer to this question is “as long as it needs to be.” Unfortunately, you are not just writing for people; you are also writing for the search engines.
Creating content for both people and the Google spiders – the web bots which crawl all over your content for indexing – means creating content is more complicated than it should be.
If you have too little content, your page may be regarded by Google as too thin. A page which Google sees in this way won’t enjoy much success in the search engines.
Too much content, on the other hand, and you risk boring your reader or scaring them off with a big wall of text.
There are all sorts of guides on the web telling you how long you should make your web copy, with many providing conflicting answers.
We consider a good rule of thumb is to have no less than 300-words, but aim for 500-words or more.
A lot of experts will tell you that long copy of a thousand words or more is what Google wants and loves, but there is no magic number. Typically, more is better… to a point.
Use Lots of Chunky Goodness
Content should be scannable. Your visitors should be able to scroll down the page to find what they need quickly.
Bullet points break up a page and make excellent use of whitespace.
For scannable text, make sure you:
- Use lots of headings.
- Break it down with subheadings.
- Use short, sharp sentences.
- Did we say bullet points?
- See how cool bullet points are.
Also, make good use of images to break up the text and make the page more scannable.
Pages with images will also receive more shares on social media than pages which don’t. And photo’s will keep people on your site longer, which helps generate more interest.
Paragraphs should be short, and every sentence should be a self-contained nugget of information building on what has come before.
Large sections of text on a web page hurt the eyes and are hard to read. And don’t forget, over half your readers will be on mobile devices to keep those paragraphs short.
Use Keywords – How and Why
Your web pages should contain enough keywords (search terms people use to find your site), so Google doesn’t have to guess about the purpose of your business.
Think about how you use Google to find the information you need and use the same principles for discovering your own keywords to include in your web copy.
Consider the phrases people would type into the search field to find your business, and then sprinkle those keywords throughout your copy.
Be specific with your keywords and provide details. Doing this will give you more opportunities to get keywords into your text without them sounding awkward. For example:
“You will be panning for gold with two pounds of authentic Fairbanks pay-dirt. In as quick as 20 minutes, you can discover real Alaskan gold, just like they did during the gold rush.”
Do you see how keywords work? In this example, we have managed to get Fairbanks, Alaska, and gold panning all mentioned in the same paragraph, and these are all keywords a searcher would use to find a specific business. In this case, “gold panning in Fairbanks”.
Talk About Your Customer
You may think that your content is about your business, but that’s the wrong idea. Make all your content about your customer.
How will your business make their lives better? That is the only reason your visitor is on your webpage.
Tell them what your business can do for them and why it’s their best choice. When you do talk about your business, it should be to establish more authority.
You might have 20 years’ experience, and that’s great! But, go further and explain how your extensive expertise can be used to improve your customer’s life.
Important Pages of a Website
A functional website will need a few core pages to tell your visitors everything they need to know. At the very minimum, you will need to create content for:
- Services/product page
- About page
- Home page
- Contact page
What to Include on the Services/Products Page?
Create a list of your services and add a brief description to each one. If your services need a lot of explaining, then you could create a different page for each service.
Aim for between 300-500 words on the services page to give Google some incentive to rank it.
Talk about the quality, the high-end equipment you use, and the highly trained staff who always put the customer first.
But don’t forget, you want to relate this to how it benefits the customer. How do your services make life better for them? What problems do they solve?
What to Include on the About Page?
You can get creative with the about page. Don’t be fooled into thinking this isn’t a critical part of the site, because it’s one of the first places people will go to learn more about your business.
Add images of staff. A photo of a happy smiling receptionist is a good one. You could also add a picture of your building.
Include information about your business philosophy, principles, years in business, awards, and achievements. The about page is a perfect location for relating anything which could help establish your business as an authority.
Information to Put on the Home Page
The home page draws in information from all the other pages. Near the top should be where you put a good call to action. This is where your tagline goes and possible a link or two to the most popular services, products or articles. Make it easy for people to find what they came for by putting the most popular items near the top of the page.
Provide a brief outline of your services, perhaps repurpose the first 100-words or so from each description on the services page.
Include a short description of your business; about 150 words should suffice.
Remember, the home page is a portal to the rest of the site, so it’s not the place for any fluff or filler.
Include appropriate images to make the home page attractive while also helping to highlight your level of professionalism and your main services.
Note: if you are a Web 907 client, our designers will likely make most of your home page content by pulling in and repurposing content from your other pages.
Content for the Contact Page
The contact page contains some vital information, so don’t leave anything out. Include the following information:
- All your phone numbers (mobile, landline, and 800),
- A fax number
- All email addresses
- Business name
- Address (physical and mailing)
- Map (your design will likely add this)
- All links to your social media pages
- An image of the business.
A picture of the outside of the business is convenient because it will let people know they have arrived when navigating by GPS or phone.
A Final Tip
When you have finalized that first draft, get up and walk away. Come back to it in a few hours, or the next day if you can.
You will be surprised how reading it again will point out gaps in your content where you need more clarity. Or areas where there is too much fluff and you don’t get to the point quick enough. So give your brain some distance from your writing and time to settle.
Getting another set of eyes on the copy is also worth looking into. It’s uncanny how you can read the same text over and over and not spot an error, but someone else will pick it up right away.
Get it done but take your time and don’t rush. After all, it’s for your business and your livelihood and what you say matters just as much as how you say it.
As my old writing teacher use to say, “The best way to write it is to put your butt in a chair and start typing.”