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9 Simple Tips for Writing Persuasive Web Content
It’s a common mistake.
Even experienced web writers make it.
When writing your web copy, who do you think of?
Do you picture a potential customer reading your text? And do you think about what makes him – or her – click?
That’s what most web writers do.
They treat their web visitors like human beings who like to read.
They treat their web visitors just like readers of printed text.
But that’s wrong. Completely wrong. Because web copy is totally different than print copy.
Web copy is scanned. Or glanced at. Not read.
Your web visitors are hunting for information or products. They make quick decisions without thinking.
So how can you persuade web visitors to take action if they don’t read your text?
Below follow 9 tips to write persuasive copy for the web.
1. Treat your web visitors like wild animals
Your website visitors behave like wild animals (source: Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox).
They’re hunting for information or a product to buy – just like a hungry panther hunts for his next meal.
When a panther sniffs a scent trail he quickly decides: will the scent trail lead to a good meal? And will it be an easy catch?
Your web visitors consider the same two things: Does your website offer what they’re looking for? And can they find it easily?
A hungry panther doesn’t like wasting time to catch a meal. And your web visitors don’t want to browse around your website for several long minutes to find the product they’re after. They want to find it quickly.
Just like the panther makes a fast decision whether to follow a scent trail or not, your web visitor decides quickly whether your site is useful or not. So if your site looks complicated with a lot of options to choose from, they click away to check out another website.
Web visitors quickly glance at your web page before guessing whether they’re in the right place or not. They don’t need to know for sure. They just want to make a quick decision.
If your web visitors only glance at your website, how do you get your message across?
2. Put your most important information first
Writing for the web is completely different from writing an essay or a paper.
An essay might go like this: First, explain what you’re going to discuss. Then, present an overview of the literature. Next, discuss; and finally draw your conclusion. The most important point you make is in the conclusion – at the end of your essay!
On web pages you have to do the opposite: your most important points always come first.
An example: you’re looking for a new red three-seater sofa. When you arrive at a website you want to see it sells sofas. And secondly, you want a search box so you know you can quickly find out what the red three-seater sofas are like.
Or say you’re looking for a copywriter for your website. Maybe you’re looking for someone local, so you need to see a copywriter is based in Manchester which is nearby. Or maybe your copywriter needs to understand medical terminology, so you like to see a headline like copywriting for the medical industry.
Information that’s most important to your web visitors is often a simple statement of what you do. Once they understand what you do, they might want to know some important details. And then – maybe they’d like to know some background information.
Journalists call this way of writing the inverted pyramid. In newspaper articles the most newsworthy information comes first before details and background information. Even if you only read the first paragraph of a newspaper story you still understand the big picture.
It’s the same on your website. Your customers want to know the big picture first. Basically: What do you do? Or what can you do for them?
3. Don’t try to be clever or creative
On the web it’s rare that a reader hangs on to every word you write. He doesn’t have time. He’s in a hurry because he could check out several other scent trails – websites – instead of wasting time trying to figure out what you do.
Simple statements often work best.
[W]hen I look at a Web page it should be self-evident. Obvious. Self-explanatory.
Clever phrasing requires people to think. And asking people to think, doesn’t work on the web because web visitors are hunting – they don’t have time to think. So keep your web copy as simple as possible.
Write as if you’re writing for a 12-year old because that makes your copy easy-to-follow. And be careful with jokes unless you’re absolutely sure your target audience will get them.
4. Write for scanners
How many people read web pages?
[What most web visitors do] is glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they’re looking for. – Steve Krug
Research suggests that only 16% of people read web pages word-for-word. Most people scan. (source: Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox).
How can you write for scanners? A check list:
- Does your headline communicate what you’re about?
- Does your image caption communicate a sales message?
- Do your sub headlines summarize your key points?
- Do easy-to-scan bullet points reduce wordiness?
Your web visitor is hunting for information or products. Ensure he can understand your most important information by just glancing at your web page.
5. Use familiar words
As Web readers, we are hunter-gatherers once again – only this time, instead of scanning the horizon for prey, we scan pages for carewords. When we see these words, we click, we act.
Imagine you want to fly to Bangkok for a holiday and you’re looking for a cheap flight. online writing training What will you search for: a cost-effective flight, a low-fare, or a cheap flight to Bangkok?
Nobody searches for cost-effective flights. As Google’s Keyword Tool shows cheap is what people are looking for:
Most people search for cheap flights
Carewords are the words people are looking for. We often like to make ourselves sound better than we are. We try to embellish what we do. We try to sound scientific, fancy or special. But your web visitor is looking for familiar words – carewords – because they’re the scent trail that tells him he’s in the right place.
6. Write for lazy people
Just like the lazy panther looks for an easy catch for his dinner, your web visitor doesn’t want to make an effort to read your text.
Make your copy easy to read:
- Use short paragraphs – four sentences max
- Use short sentences – twelve on average
- Skip unnecessary words
- Avoid jargon and gobbledygook
- Avoid the passive tense
- Avoid needless repetition
- Address your web visitors directly—use the word you
- Shorten your text
How short should your text be? Steve Krug recommends you get rid of half the words on each page, and then get rid of half of what’s left. That maybe an overly demanding target, but give it a go. Set yourself a challenge and make your text as short as possible.
7. Expect people to arrive anywhere on your website
Your website isn’t read from start to finish like a book. (tweet this) People usually read a book from chapter one, via chapter two to three and four etc.
Now, imagine people pick up a book and start reading somewhere completely at random. Possibly at the beginning of the last chapter, maybe in the middle of chapter three, or at the last page of chapter one.
That’s what the web is like. Most web visitors will not start reading at your home page. They may arrive on any of your web pages.
If each web page can be an entry page what does that mean?
- Each page should be easy to scan;
- Each page should clarify to people where they are; and what your site is about;
- Each page should have a call to action telling people where to go next – to read another blog post, sign up for your email newsletter, check out a detailed product description or testimonial, request a quote or add a product to a shopping cart.
Don’t rely on your navigation bar to tell people what to do next. Include a button or link to guide people to take the next step. On each page.
8. Make it easy for hunters to find you
Potential customers are hunting for information or products.
How can you help them find you?
Lure potential customers to your website by providing useful information. That’s how writing for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) basically works:
- Answer the questions potential customers are asking;
- Discuss one key topic for each page;
- Include links to relevant pages on your own website or to other websites;
- Use phrases and words your potential customers are looking for.
Above all: Be helpful.
9. Make a visual impression
Web copy and web design should work together.
You can’t write your words, you can’t compose your sentences, you can create your bullet points, without considering how your web page will look.
The visual appeal of your website impacts the readability of your text; and influences whether web visitors can quickly get what you’re about.
How to increase the visual appeal of your web copy:
- Replace text by photographs or videos;
- Consider different font sizes – think about people scanning large text first;
- Emphasize quotes of customers (or experts) to add credibility;
- Play around with highlights , bold text, CAPS, or italics;
- Break a long headline into a headline with a sub headline;
- Change paragraphs into bullet points.
Most importantly: de-clutter. professional writing courses Reduce noise and add white space. Not only will it make your website easier to read, it will also increase your perceived trust (source: Social Triggers).
The truth about writing persuasive web copy
I’d love to tell you that writing persuasive web copy is easy.
But the truth is that writing simple, useful copy is hard.
Don’t treat your web visitors like academics who love reading challenging and complicated texts. Don’t treat your web visitors like lawyers poring over small print. Don’t be wordy. And don’t show off your extensive vocabulary.
Instead make your text as simple as possible.
Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Know who you are and what you do.
If your positioning is clear, it’s much easier to stand out on the web and to be found. If your message is clear, it’s much easier to create persuasive web copy.
Be clear. Be specific. Be bold.
Want to improve your writing skills further?
- Discover the Power of the Subtle Nod and other persuasive tricks
- Learn how to cure sentence bloat and avoid irritating your readers
- Receive 16 simple tips to write more seductive content and win more business
Recommended reading on writing web content:
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“Information that’s most important to your web visitors is often a simple statement of what you do”
Excellent! Thank you.
You’re welcome. Glad you agree
Awesome article Henneke! That’s a great tip about writing for the scanners. If you’re in any kind of B2B business, people are in typically in hurry. They’ll probably make a judgement on your website within 1/4 of a second. So the copy has to appeal to them.
Yep. The truth is harsh – we’ve slaved for hours to write our precious words. And then – they’re just ignored!
Hear hear! The only thing I wonder about is.. if you make it too easy for people to scan, they may not even start to read.
I’m mainly talking about business websites here – not about websites specialized in long reads or entertaining blog posts where the majority of visitors will come to read a text.
If you make a business website easy-to-scan, you don’t necessarily make it hard-to-read. You just make sure people get your most important messages first. If those important messages meet their requirements, they’ll continue reading to find out more about you.
Nice…I agree with everything you have said (how often do you read that in the comments section).
But what about mobile? I find that I have to edit copy for print, web, tablet and now mobile.
Some tips on writing concise copy for an ambulatory audience would be appreciated.
That’s a good point, Shaun.
A full-size website appears to be ok for full-size tablets (source). For small screens like small tablets or mobiles the need to be concise and cut text is even stronger.
Research suggest that comprehension of text is lower on mobiles than on desktops because of the lack of context (you can see less text at once on a small screen). This means you have to use even shorter sentences and simpler words to get your message across. You can find more info in Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox.
A cracking article that’s well researched and packed full of sensible, quality advice. A brilliant read Henneke, thanks for sharing
(p.s: I love the imagery of the predatory reader – that was awesome).
Yes, it’s nice to imagine us all browsing the web as hungry panthers and wild tigers, isn’t it?
Jakob Nielsen was the first to come up with the idea of foraging on the web.
Best advice ever
I’ve scanned through this whole article
I agree with all you say Henneke.
Who was it who said that if they had had more time they would have written a shorter letter/piece?
It’s easy just to spill everything in your head onto the page…
It’s much more difficult and time-consuming to write concisely and simply.
That’s absolutely true – writing short and simple content takes far more time than writing long and complicated texts. I think it was Blaise Pascal who said that.
Thank you, Martin!
Nick Fielden says
I’d always thought it was Mark Twain – it has that brevity and zest of common sense that is typical of him. Wiki Quotes, however, says it’s unattributable.
Maybe several people have said something similar? The Quote Investigator suggests the quote if from Blaise Pascal, but who knows… maybe he’s wrong?
Thank you for stopping by, Nick. Much appreciated.
Can you provide some sites that exemplify the strategies and tactics you recommend in this post?
Apple.com is great example. Or Copyblogger Media.
Let me know if you have some further questions?
Nice writing and i can’t agree. Write for scanners and lazy people. Funny but definitely true. Nowadays so many scanners around! Oh and the write the best one first?
That’s good advise mate! Keep it up!
Very helpful resource. Working on some web copy re-write right now and this was just what I needed to guide me in the right direction!
Glad to hear that, Lisa.
Awesome! Thank you!
Question: How do I incorporate “show don’t tell” into this type format? Any good ideas?
Thanks again, I think you just saved me!
This is a very helpful article. I am convinced that people who surfs the net become “hunters” because we rarely read verbatim. We always scans for those keywords that may have relevance to what we are searching. And that websurfers tend to be lazier than their counterparts. teehee
Thank you, Natalie. Glad you found it helpful!
This was very helpful in showing the different between direct mail copy and website copy.
Glad to hear you found it useful, Steve!
Hello Henneke, thanks for a very interesting article. How does this technique work with the text to image ratio and do search engines also like to be able to scan read?
Text to image ration is tricky – it really depends on what a site is selling. In general, it’s better to show than to tell – let the pictures do the talking if possible. Search engines do pay more attention to text in headlines and subheads, so in that sense they try to mimic a human scanning a website.
Thanks for a very informative article. So easy to get carried away and write pages of text. Time to de-clutter!
I picked this article from about 10 I shortlisted from a Google search. Reading the article made me realise why I picked this one. Proves the concepts mentioned here.
Great! Glad you enjoyed it
Thank you for sharing all of these tips, I agree that important points should be at the start so that the readers will capture it easily. We should be creative, but we should not forget that we also have to be direct to the point.
Roshan Gautam says
Wow!! I liked each and every suggestions mentioned above. You got yet another reader. Thanks!!
I like all the suggestions you’ve made on this article. I’ve been writing articles for just 2 months now and I am on the learning stage. Your website helped me a lot for writing good articles. Thanks!
Thank you, Anthony!
So… I am reading Guy kawasaki on enchantment because I know my website sucks. I Google enchantment and find your blog article on the subject. You say: ‘tell stories, people like stories’ … Ok. I follow another link, and now you tell me to treat visitors like predators and it’s a mistake to assume they’re human beings who like to read.
Yes, it’s tough isn’t it? We need to write for both scanners (as if they’re wild animals) and readers. We have to make our writing work at both levels. You may find this article about turning scanners into readers useful: https://www.enchantingmarketing.com/get-busy-people-to-read-your-blog-post-word-by-word/
I never thanked you for your answer, sorry about that. So: thank you!
Thanks a lot Hanneke your advices are straight to point and a complete guide i was looking for. It takes 9 months for a baby to be complete in a womb and ready for the outside atmosphere, with these 9 tips I feel ready to deliver that on my website.
Went through the whole article and I appreciated that you actually used your recommendations within the article itself. will writing service Thank you for the advice. One additional idea for this site could be making use of the width of the page (I need to zoom out or scroll like crazy to scan the article).
This informative article helped me to fully understand the essence of web writing especially for businesses
Great article! Working on a new informational site for a service industry my husband and i are starting locally. This has been the best advice i have yet to read – as a blogger and a content junkie myself – it is difficult to write for other people because i do read every word – however one of my employees writes his own estimates and emails to customers – and drives me insane with his “wordiness” I’m always taking out words – and years ago i learned in business law that you could read every 3 words in a contract to get thru it quickly- and have the jest of it – (then go back and reread later
Most of us tend to read every word of our own copy, but when we look at other people’s copy we rarely read word by word.
Every point you mentioned is part of the big game of creating content that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Researching the topic and keywords, writing without distractions, adding relevant media and resources, formatting the post, prodiving something with a “real adeed value” for your readers are some of the important steps for building compelling articles.
It’s all about understanding your audience and giving them solutions to their problems or satisfying their needs.
Thanks for sharing, Henneke!
Yep, so true – it all starts with understanding your audience
Glad you found the post useful, Erik.
Very useful information Henneke. Thank you kindly for sharing. As a newby, this whole web content exercise is a bit overwhelming but your article offered amazing techniques and tips. Much appreciated!!
As someone who is just beginning to look into writing for a website, I had to look up what SEO meant… would have been nice to have the acronym spelled out in the text (unless it is and I missed it).
Good suggestion! I’ve added it straight away. Thank you.
Awesome post. The best advise on writing for web I’ve found so far. Thank you for sharing.
Glad you found it useful, Angela
I LOVE the metaphor about web readers being animals. I’ve often told my clients that web readers are, essentially, lazy. It’s initially off-putting, but my evidence is strong.
You mention web reading differs from print reading, but I suspect print reading, especially for business, will become more like web reading as documents are digitized and we grow accustomed to “lazy” reading. It’s changing the human language from the inside out!
And thank you for knowing what the heck you’re talking about. The first site in my Google search for web writing was terrible. The points either addressed writing rules in general or claimed rules true of print writing but not of web writing.
I haven’t the heart to attack. But it inspired me to write! So, there’s some good in it, right?
Yes, I agree with you that print reading might becoming more similar to web reading. It’ll be fascinating to see how writing develops!
Shreyans Bothra says
Hi Henneke. need help writing a book It’s a great sum up points for writing a content for a website. I completely agree with the fact that reading a book and reading something on a web page is very different from each other. I am a content writer myself and few points mentioned here are sure to be helpful in my future work. Keep updating us!! Thank you!!
Great. Happy writing!
This article works to me as like a bible for new web content writer. I used to write thousands of word on my web page but could find any significant amount of visitors, after reading this article i have decided to wash my brain again and it works superb.
I am one of the lazy type people who just scan around. And i’m amazed i read your page word to word. Excellent article.
I am a newbie in website content writing and have been assigned such task.
This article will definitely help.
Great! Thank you for reading
I am a content writer too. Reading this article makes me feel I know nothing about content writing. I will follow the steps shared in this article. Thanks so much Henneke. You are a great writer.
I am day 1 brand new to the world of web writing,etc. After reading verbatim all the post from 2013 -2016 I am amazed at how simple you make this sound. I am not sure what to specialize in at this infant stage, but I have one very important question…Can you suggest if and how I should proceed be it buying a course outline about copywriting or are the enough free websites willing to offer their knowledge and experience to beginners like me. Any advise and or guidance is gratefully appreciated, thank you!
There’s no one size fits all.
You can learn from websites about writing, but there’s a lot of superficial advice and websites are often not organized in the best way for learning. So, I’d also suggest you read some books about writing.
Doing a writing course may accelerate your learning, but only if you find the right course and tutor.
This was an excellent post. A large number of digital marketers will benefit from it as important aspects of content creation has been discussed in details. I especially like your points where you state that “expect visitors to come from anywhere” and advise readers to create content of less complexity and greater readability. This article can be an efficient checklist for proofreading.
Thank you, Debarati. I appreciate your stopping by to leave a comment.
Very helpful article. It narrows things down nicely and also helped me to realize that my article could use some trimming up. When I started it I was worried that it wasn’t ‘enough’, now I know that I need to do some more editing. Thank you so much, I got a lot out of it. And I do agree that my notes from this will make a wonderful proofreading tool.
I’ve found that writing goes through a process of expansion and shrinkage all the time. We expand by adding examples, details, and quotes (to make sure our article has substance), and then we edit to cut redundant words and sentences. It’s a fine balance!
Great article. I especially appreciate that your blog follows the advice you supply. Gotta love folk who spread the good word about effective content design.
I lead the web editorial team for a government department. My role is to ensure web content is optimized according to the specifications and style guidance laid out in government policies and directives. These policies are based on usability, findability and accessibility.
Your blog echoes the guidance and web best practices that I implement on the daily. However, I disagree with one bullet point. You indicate that content creators should “Play around with highlights, bold text, CAPS, or italics.” But best practices for web say otherwise.
Content creators should use bold text sparingly to emphasize particularly important words and phrases. If overused, it loses its effect, and the user will stop paying attention to your bolding as they scan the page. Perhaps elaborating on when and how to use bolding would be helpful. I would extend the same argument for highlighted text. And in this case, depending on how you use it and why, it may be exclusionary to your users who are colour blind if the colour is meant to convey meaning.
Moreover, using all caps is not a recommended way to engage users, as it’s akin to yelling. Perhaps promotional print content is a fine medium for this style, but web isn’t. If your content is structured in an optimized way, using appropriate and descriptive titles and headings, lists, inverted pyramid style, keywords close to the left hand margin, and concise copy, then there shouldn’t be a need to use caps for emphasis.
Usability testing demonstrates that people with cognitive disabilities like dyslexia have a hard time digesting italics because the slanted text seems to meld together. Their use was common practice in print to make text stand out (to emphasize) from surrounding content. But you don’t need italics for emphasis if you’re using bolding properly.
What about official titles and Latin terms, you say? Again, if the purpose of italics is to emphasize text, this is accomplished through the capitalization of principle words, which already distinguishes names and titles from the surrounding text. Italics should be reserved for print products only. Why exclude a portion of your audience from accessing your web content effectively?
Thank you for stopping by to add your thoughts. I appreciate it.
I’m not suggesting one should use a lot of highlights, bold text, CAPS, or italics. As you can see on my own website, I don’t use highlights, rarely use CAPS (I’ve maybe used them once on a total of 200 pages/posts), and use bold text and italics sparingly.
One day, I might write a specific post about formatting text. I can’t include it all in one short post.
Books and courses
Follow proven templates for specific writing tasks, practice your skills, and get professional feedback so you become a confident business writer. Take on any writing project with gusto.
I never saw myself as a writer, but in my early forties, I learned how to write and discovered the joy of writing. Now, I’d like to empower you to find your voice, share your ideas and inspire your audience.
(Even More!) Web Content Writing Tips
Since our last post about web content writing tips was one of the most popular we’ve ever written, we decided to share a few more. As we’ve mentioned a time or twelve before, having excellent copy on your website is one of the most important things you can do for your business — your web content is like an ambassador for your company, and if it’s not on point you’re going to lose out on sales.
Is your website copy clean, neat and conversational? Or is it laden with errors, poor formatting and weird text? Is your web content representative of you and your company? If not, it’s time for an overhaul. Error-free, compelling copy is one of the best free online PR tools at your disposal, even if developing the content takes some time and effort.
Shareable blog posts are also an important aspect of content marketing efforts and SEO. Good copy will help you get backlinks and make people trust your company more (after all, who wants to give their credit card number to a business that can’t tell the difference between there/their/they’re or puts unnecessary apostrophes in plural words?).
When you’re writing web content, keep these things in mind:
1. Always start with keyword research for SEO. TCF’s site generates over $300,000 worth of organic traffic each year (as in, we’d have to spend more than a quarter million dollars in AdWords to get the same number of site visits). The reason why our content is so successful is keyword research. We don’t always write keyword-based posts, but when we do they tend to rank well.
If you don’t know where to get started, we’ve created a killer Keyword Research Starter Kit – including everything you need to know from which tools we use to get the job done to how to use them to achieve your own results. Click the button below to get your free copy now:
2. Keyword stuffing is never okay. Although SEO should always be a focal point, if you stuff keywords into your copy you’ll negatively impact the readability of your content, its conversion rate and how well it ranks in the SERPs. If you stuff keywords into your copy, readers will bounce off the page and search engines will slap you down. creative writing course Also worth noting: just because people are searching for grammatically incorrect keywords doesn’t mean you should incorporate them verbatim into your copy.
3. Email vs. e-mail and Internet vs. internet. The AP Stylebook changed it to email a couple years ago, but only because so many people were using email instead of e-mail…sort of like a “popularity rules” thing for the inaccurate. The New York Times isn’t bowing to the pressure, however, and as of this post is still going with e-mail. More recently, Internet became internet (although both are technically acceptable).
4. Always hyperlink to your sources. When you reference another website’s content, make sure you hyperlink back to that site. writing a will for free It’s good internet etiquette, and you’d want the same courtesy. Always cite your sources, even if you’re afraid it’ll send your web traffic to another site — and you can always choose the “open link in another window” option if you’re that concerned about keeping your traffic. Besides being the right thing to do, it can also help you get backlinks. Frequently, the sites you link to will see your effort and thank you for it with a reciprocal link or quote — like Hootsuite did for TCF.
5. Make the reader happy. Crafting content that goes viral is every writer’s dream, and tapping into a reader’s emotions is the way to do it. Did you know that social media users are more likely to share content that makes them happy? Abigail Posner explains why:
“When we see or create an image that enlivens us, we send it to others to give them a bit of energy and effervescence. Every gift holds the spirit of the gifter. Also, every image reminds us and others that we’re alive, happy and full of energy (even if we may not always feel that way). And when we ‘like’ or comment on a picture or video sent to us, we’re sending a gift of sorts back to the sender. We’re affirming them. But, most profoundly, this ‘gift’ of sharing contributes to an energy exchange that amplifies our own pleasure – and is something we’re hardwired to do.”
So the next time you’re crafting a piece of ad copy or web writing ask yourself, “What’s good about this story? How can I give this a positive message or angle?” Find it, and you could find your key to viral content.
6. Keep the action in your content writing. If you’ve read tips about writing for the web before, you’re probably familiar with the term passive voice – but do you know what it actually means? The passive voice happens when you switch the subject and object in a sentence. Instead of “the lion attacks the village” you have “the village is attacked by a lion.” Notice how the second sentence is somehow less exciting (even though it contains a killer lion?) This is why avoiding the passive voice is so important.
In addition to sticking mostly to a subject, verb, object structure, try filling your web writing with unique and exciting verbs. Instead of “sales climbing” say “sales rocketing.” Instead of “cutting costs” try “killing costs.” These small changes won’t add to your word count, but they will make your content writing more exciting and engaging.
7. When writing for the web, chop it up. If you’re writing the next Great American Novel, it’s okay to end paragraphs when pauses seem natural. Writing for the web, however, is a whole different world. Attention spans online are a LOT shorter than they are in Oprah’s Book Club, and your paragraphs need to bear that in mind.
Put simply: keep it short! A five-line paragraph is great, but a three-line paragraph is even better. Some content kings like Derek Halpern even let single sentences fly solo. Don’t worry if an idea doesn’t seem to be fully “complete” before hitting that enter key. Err on the side of short paragraphs and chop it up!
8. Update your links. Every single page on your website should link to other pages — not only does this help you boost the rankings of the pages you link to, it also gets users hopping around on your site and spending more time there. When you bake internal link building into your content, your
Most writers will keep this in mind when creating web content, but what they’ll often forget to do is revisit older posts and pages to update them with new links. Set a Google Calendar alert for yourself so you’ll remember to do this once a month
9. Find yourself a good SEO suite. At its heart, SEO is really all about ripping apart raw data and seeing what ROI you can pull out of it. Likewise, when it comes to analyzing the keywords and traffic data of any website, it’s really easy to get lost in the analytics. This is especially true when it comes to certain SEO tools out there that either bombard you with data (forcing you to make up your own algorithms to sort through all kinds of numbers that, let’s face it, you probably don’t have time for). Alternatively, there are other tools that don’t show you the raw data at all: instead, they break everything down into their own proprietary system. While they might swear up and down that their method is best, this can make keyword research… difficult, to say the least.
It’s for this reason that we’re such big fans of SEMrush (we’ve even become an affiliate!) With SEMrush, you’re given a lot of data, but all of that data is easy to understand (and even easier to export, if you need to analyze it in another program). All of the big analytics are displayed in front of you: what keywords you’re ranking for, how many backlinks you have, what your competition looks like, and what the total ad value of your keywords amounts to.
Seriously, take a look at this screenshot:
Even if you’ve never used SEMrush before, everything is pretty self explanatory. The graphs are easy to read and all the most important keyword research data is displayed right in front of you.
Likewise, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of keyword research, SEMrush makes it easy to parse data: you can organize it by common metrics, like CPC or search volume, or you can focus on a specific website (or subdomain on a website). If you’re trying to build out a blog for your brand, this is especially helpful, as it allows you to see exactly what your blog is doing (compared to the rest of your website).
If you’re interested in trying SEMrush out, click here for a 30 day free trial of SEMrush Pro (and save $99.95!)
10. Don’t forget the extra SEO juice. If you’re using WordPress or a similar platform to host your content, repeating your targeted keywords a couple times isn’t enough. Remember to place your target keyword in the url, in H2 headers, in the meta description and even in the alt tags of your images.
Once you’re finished inputting, remember to expand the Yoast box and check out the Content Analysis portion for some helpful hints about what you should improve before you publish.
11. Always answer the question “why should you care?” Scroll up to the top of this page and read our intro paragraph. Notice how the second sentence explains why learning these content writing tips is important?
This should be an integral part of every piece of content you write. Before your readers invest their time into hearing what you have to say, they’ll want to know why it’s worth it. How will what you’re teaching them help them? What goal will they accomplish with your help? Always explain these things up front.
12. Paint a picture. Give this paragraph a read:
“Is it just us, or do some people talk about gay dating like it’s an elaborate magic trick? Even unexperienced gay or queer persons may approach the idea of dating with the kind of abject fear one feels when opening the instructions for a new piece of IKEA furniture. ‘Am I doing this right?’ they may ask themselves, months, years and even decades into their dating careers.”
That’s the opening paragraph for blog post we wrote for our personal product client titled 8 Ways Gay Dating Is Just Like Straight Dating and it’s the perfect example to illustrate our point (pun intended). That point is this — creating web content writing is a lot different than writing a 7th grade book report. Your audience isn’t an overworked and underpaid teacher with no choice but to read your reworded Cliffs Notes on Lord of the Flies. Your audience is choosing to read your content (or to head elsewhere on the web). Imagery is a great way to capture their attention.
Don’t think for a second that a boring or technical topic gets you off the hook either — IKEA assembly instructions have nothing to do with gay dating (usually) but we used a visual to help the reader make the connection. Push yourself to add a little creative fiction to your website content writing and see how much more fun it is to read (and write!)
13. “Do’s and Don’t’s” vs. “Dos and Don’ts” — which is correct? The latter! Nothing drives us crazier than people putting apostrophes in pluralized words. When in doubt about spelling, capitalization or grammar, Google it! Which brings us to…
14. If you’re not sure, look it up. You’d be surprised at how much you teach yourself when you consistently look up things you aren’t sure about. best resume writing service reviews We learned most of this stuff by double checking the words/grammar/spelling/etc. we weren’t sure about. It takes a little time at first, but if you make a habit of not having to double check the same thing twice you’ll be an expert in no time. Then, you can write your own blogs about web content writing tips!
15. Dictionary.com is your friend — so visit the site often. You’d be amazed at how many words people misuse on a regular basis. For instance, peruse probably doesn’t mean what you think it does (in fact, it’s probably the opposite). Never use words unless you’re absolutely certain of their meaning.
16. Don’t call a banana an elongated yellow fruit. Don’t use a $3 word when a 10 cent word will suffice, unless you’re going for the “most pretentious web content writer” award. Overuse of meaningless buzzwords is a good way to show that you have an MBA, but a bad way to keep the interest of your readers (and it actually makes you look bad ) .
17. Revamp posts for maximum value. There is no such thing as a “set it and forget it” content strategy (well, not if you’re good at what you do).
In addition to constantly analyzing social shares, pingbacks and web traffic, you should monitor your content for the keywords it’s currently ranking for. A shorter piece of content might surprise you with how well it’s performing, and it might even start ranking for keywords you weren’t even targeting!
Revamp posts like these with added content, updated info and a strengthened keyword strategy and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your page climbs in the search engine rankings. Not sure where to start? Check out our complete step by step guide to How to Increase Organic Traffic by Revamping Existing Content.
18. Web site vs. website vs. web site. Which one is it? For the love of all things awesome, it’s website (at least, so says the AP Stylebook, which is sort of like a web content writer’s bible). Not Web site, not web site and not any other variation you can think of. Although “Web site” was once acceptable, it’s sort of like referring to your Blackberry as a “cellular phone” — it makes you look just as out of touch with technology.
19. Keep the reading level low. Do you know the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease score for your piece of content? There are plenty of free tools to help you find it. These tools crawl through your content, analyze your vocabulary level, and rate your readability by grade level. Unless your topic is extremely niche and technical, you should aim for a middle school reading level or lower.
If your score is too high, it doesn’t mean you need to dumb things down for your readers — it just means you might need to make simpler word choices or cut down your complex sentences. This ensures that visitors of varying education levels can get value from your content, and that readers who may speak English as a second language will understand it too. It also just helps keep your tone clear and relatable which should always be a goal when you’re creating web content.
20. Provide added value. Your content writing should always offer value to the reader in terms of insightful ideas and actionable tips. But if you really want your content to earn repeat traffic and rise in search engine rankings, give your readers a parting gift.
It doesn’t have to cost you anything. It can be a link to a free webinar (like our webinar on earning free media coverage ), a Google Drive Template, or even a worksheet. Give your readers a valuable takeaway and they won’t just view your site as a great resource — they’ll refer their friends too!
21. Never self edit your work (at least, not right away). Ideally, you’ll have somebody to edit your writing. If you’re responsible for writing and editing your web content, don’t do both in the same day. When the writing is still fresh, your mind will automatically make up the gaps in your copy and your editing will be subpar. Instead, put it away and come back to it another day — or at least several hours later.
With enough discipline, solid web content writing skills are within anyone’s reach. Having excellent copy on your website is one of the easiest ways to grab the attention of new visitors (and keep them coming back for more — or better yet, sharing your links). Want more website content writing tips and tricks? Check out or Web Content Writing 101 post, or shoot us an e-mail with your questions and we’ll get back to you.
Does website content seem too complicated to tackle on your own? You can always outsource website content to us – we even have transparent pricing, so you can see what our rates are before having to get on the phone with us. Click below to get your copy of your generic proposal and pricing list.