A simple Google search for, “How to Write Effective On-Site Content,” will lead you to thousands of well-written articles that parrot the same basic rules for online copy:
- Use Keywords Wisely: Make sure you have just enough, but not too much. Make them flow with the rest of your content, and remember that you are writing for humans first, search engines second.
- Relevant Information: Pull people in with interesting and relevant topics. If your site is for people looking for luxurious resorts in Cozumel, and you use terms and phrases more often typed in text messages by 13 year olds, you’re probably not going to keep many visitors around for long. Know what your readers are trying to find.
- Strong Call to Action: If you do not tell visitors to do something, they won’t. Make sure you provide extremely easy ways for them to contact you, sign up for an email list, make a purchase, or complete some sort of relevant conversion.
While some are a little overdone, most of the advice is sound. Once you have covered the basic tips for creating content for your site, consider these advanced tips to polish it to perfection.
The You-Attitude – Marketers do it all the time, and you should too: reader-centered writing. Talk about the readers, and what you can do for them. This is especially important if you are selling consulting services. Provide concrete examples of what value your services will bring to their business.
Rather than, “We have experts in every field and our experience can benefit your business.”
Say, “Your business can benefit from our team’s expert knowledge and experience.”
There is a fine line between an over-the-top sales tone and the “you-attitude
,” and you should walk the line carefully. While it is important to share information about your company on your web site, be sure to include this style of “you-attitude” writing around your call to action for the greatest effect.
Short & Sweet – Everything that you need the reader to know about your site should be found in the first 1-3 paragraphs. If you feel the need to create upwards of 500 words of content, per page, that’s fine. Just understand that nobody is going to read it. If you absolutely need a lot of content on your home page (for SEO purposes, etc.), be sure to separate it into separate sections. People should be able to scan your content and find exactly what they are looking for. If it is any harder than that, they will leave.
Consistent – The decision to capitalize or not to capitalize often comes to the author. “Internet,” is one of those terms left open to interpretation. Based on many online style guides, I’ve chosen to capitalize it across our website, as it seems to be the most correct answer. When it comes to your website, be consistent. Decide to use an acute accent (accent aigu: café) on all relevant words, or not at all.
Visually Appealing – You’ve probably read that effective blog posts and online articles are visually appealing. This doesn’t mean you should have ever hue on the color wheel evenly represented; it merely means that you should use lists and boldface text. Be sure to include the most relevant information in the top left corner of your site. Many eye-tracking studies have shown the direction in which people read web pages – from search results to blog posts. You should pay attention to this data when designing your website.
Proofread: This cannot be stated enough. You should ALWAYS proofread your website copy before posting it. From the title tag to the footer, spelling, grammar, and punctuation are important. If you want to portray a professional appearance, typos and errors merely take away from that. You do not see many typos on sites of huge corporations such as CNN or Wells Fargo; there’s a reason for that. I’m not saying that most readers will notice your misplaced commas, or that you should spend hours constructing the perfect sentence, but you should know when to use, “compliment,” and, “complement,” and you should NEVER mix up “you’re,” and “your.”