Seeing the Internet is a crowded room is like saying there are many stars in the sky, sand on the beach, or atoms in a cell. According to Internet Live Stats, there are more than 1.9 billion existing websites, more than 3.5 billion Google searches every day, and around 350,000 tweets are sent every minute.
Capturing reader interest in this exploding digital world is a challenge. A study from Chartbeat analytic services found that 55 percent of visitors spent 15 seconds or less on a web page.
Writing good website content is the key to beating these statistics. Well-written content that is optimized for the web so that it rises to the very top in search results and attracts readers.
Some writing tips apply regardless of whether your prose appears on the screen, printed or carved on the walls of the pyramid. Another tactic is very relevant for digital scribes. Follow these steps to ensure your website content gets the attention it deserves.
1. Get to know your audience
Sounds simple, but so many writers put pen to paper – or finger to the keyboard – before thinking about who they are trying to reach. Before creating content, ask yourself these questions: Who is my main audience? What about the secondary audience that can influence and inform my primary audience? How did they find my site online?
For example, you create a website for a law firm. Your primary audience might be an existing client. However, your secondary audience is much broader and can include other lawyers, legal journalists, or anyone who might need your services in the future. You must make sure your content is accessible and attractive to all of these viewers. What kinds of questions might this group ask about certain topics? Where are they most active online? What information do they need?
Audiences find web content through various channels – various social media, links from other websites, sharing emails, and search engine results. The last method is very important when you write for the web. Text can be very well written and informative, but if it’s not optimized for search engines, chances are few people will find it. Think about your audience again: what search terms will they type into Google? Be sure to include these terms in the header and sub-header.
2. Follow the “inverted pyramid” model
Web readers have a short attention span – they will decide if your site has the information they need in seconds. Structure your content like an inverted or conical pyramid. The most important message is at the top of the page. Then, gradually trace to more specific supporting information. End with tangential details.
For example, you create a web page about a conference. The most relevant details – description of theme, date and location – will appear at the top of the page. Supporting details such as speakers and their lecture topics will follow. Less important information – such as the conference organizer, conference history or list of related resources – will appear at the bottom of the page.
These two graphs help guide changes to our own website and can help you conceptualize your site.
3. Stick to the active voice
Use active and not passive verbs, and determine the subject of the sentence. For example, instead of writing “Coffee ordered,” write “The man orders coffee.” Instead of saying “Products can be ordered on our website,” say “You can order products on our website.”
Active voice helps create sentences that are concise and reader-friendly. This is also more direct; when you talk directly to the audience (“you can do it”) it’s more interesting than saying “It can be done.”
4. Nix jargon
This web is for everyone – not just technical experts. So, make sure that information can be understood by educated non-specialists. Write the acronym in the first reference. Avoid insider language. Explain complex or niche terms. And provide hyperlinks to other articles where readers can get more background information about a particular topic.
5. Mix your word choices
Words are like cakes – we all have favorites. But when it comes to getting your visitors interested, variety is the key! The word cloud is fun to use and can help you change word choices by visualizing which words you use the most. Simply copy and paste your text into a free word cloud tool like this to produce your cloud. The more you use the word, the greater it will be seen in your cloud. Do you use certain words too often? Type on Thesaurus.com to find new synonyms to improve your text.
Negative words stick out in your clouds? Now you know exactly what needs to be changed for a more positive tone. Also pay attention to your website’s keywords: this will appear several times in your text, so it’s easy to recognize it in the word cloud.
6. Make text scanned
In addition to placing the most important information at the top, make sure the text is easy to read. Most web readers will scan the page to find a particular piece of information they are looking for – if they do not find it easily, they will move.
Do not believe? Consider the next time you open a web page that you have never seen before. Do you read every word from beginning to end? Or are your eyes jumping around, looking for the information you want?
7. Inserting multimedia
Sometimes a picture- or infographic or video is really worth a thousand words. Research shows that 90 percent of the information sent to the human brain is visual, and people process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Easy-to-read charts or graphs can also do a better job at explaining complex topics than text alone. If you are not a graphic designer by trade, there are many ways to use visuals on your website and some great services out there to help you create your own graphics, such as Canva and Piktochart.
Images also help break up text, making your page easier to read. It’s best to have at least one image on each page of your website.
8. Layer of website content
The great thing about a website is that it’s easy to direct readers from one page to another. Help readers find more great content by linking certain words or phrases to other relevant resources, especially those on your own website. This will help get people involved with your content and move through your site.
9. Let them want more
The following is an example of the call to action button display on your website.
A good website ends each page with a strong call to action (or in short CTA). With Jimdo, you can also – with an easily customizable button on your website. Is there anyone the reader should contact for more information? What interesting videos should they watch? What about related blog posts that they can read or reports that they can download? This strategy helps direct readers to other areas of your website and encourage them to promote your content to their friends and family.
Writing, in general, is hard work – writing content for your website, even more so. But remember, you don’t need to write perfect text first! After your content goes live, you can do a monthly website check to monitor and optimize its performance. With these few tips, you are ready to create effective content that resonates by tapping on internet readers.