How to Create Great Content for Your Website - Part 1
It takes more than a good story to keep people captivated by your content. As a first, you need to activate their imagination. Establishing an emotional connection when you help readers participate in the experience, become part of the content.
Visitors come to your site with specific objectives in mind. They don’t come to your site to decipher your verbosity. Visitors don’t want to see that you are smart; they come because they have a problem and are looking for a solution.
The Internet World
The total number of websites in the world is more than 1,779,756,00; it is impossible to give you the correct amount because websites are created continuously. Check Internet live stats for a while. It will surprise you! Internet users in the world are more than 4,595,987,800 in this second, and the number is growing. By the time I finish writing this post, the numbers I gave you will be outdated. And when you read in that report that the CO2 emission, today, from the Internet is 2,285,700 tons. I am sure you will understand why you need to write great content.
I think I can say the Internet is a crowded space! But as a client of mine has said, when he sees the Internet, he sees “nothing but endless opportunities”.
Capturing the Visitors' Interest
It is a challenge to capture the visitors’ interest —especially when more than half of them spend less than 15 seconds on a webpage. As our website goal is to rise to the top of search results, even well-written content will need Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to keep the visitors’ responsiveness.
Writing great content on the web boosts the appearance, readability and SEO effectiveness of your site. Identify the goal of each web page and write content that will direct your visitors and convince them that their responding to your call to action is the best thing to do.
Ist Rule: Know Your Audience
Before you put your finger to the keyboard, ask yourself who is the public of your audience and what they like to do. How are you going to communicate with that audience? You will need to ensure your content is accessible and exciting to the target audience and to those in a broader audience who might need the solution you offer. Please think of the questions these prospective customers would ask, which information do they need.
Keyword Search for SEO
How will your target audience find you? Are they active in social media? Could you reach traffic with email sharing? Is your content following the search engines requirements?
Keyword search for SEO is essential. They are the primary word you want search engines associate to your content. They reflect what topics are relevant to your audience. Keywords are the words or phrases that reveal the questions your prospective customers have in mind. Identify the best keyword to target and use it.
What would your visitors ask to find you? The ability to ask the right questions will determine how engaged you are to your target market. Study your audience enough to be able to produce well-crafted questions to find what would stimulate and guide them in their search for a solution.
Website content needs to be well-written and informative, but it needs to be optimised for search engines to improve the number of persons who will find it. What would your audience type in Google? Think, question them, ask your friends what they would type to find your product? These keywords and keyphrases are critical, and they should be used in your headlines and subheadlines because they are relevant not only to your visitors but to search engines too.
Remember, the Visitors Scan Your Website
You must offer what customers need. Structure your content with
- informative headlines
- connected images
- communicative summaries in the sud-headlines
- bullet points to be short and precise.
Readability is critical. Try to focus on the verbs that communicate your message. Be sparse on adjectives. Microsoft offers a free app on measuring a document’s readability and level statistics to help you proof-read your content to your target audience. Google does not like long words or long sentences. Be simple and clear
Use the Cone Principle to Structure Your Content
As I mentioned before, statistics show that web visitors in seconds decide if they will stay on a page or not, and when they do, their attention spans are very short. Structure your essential topics at the top of the page to grab the visitor’s attention.
The figure above shows a cone principle structure . Notice, the structure of web content writing is the opposite of what we would expect from a good print writer, who starts with a description or suspense and keeps the conclusion to the end.
On web writing, relevant information comes first. Topic, informative content is at the top. The visitors will know what your website does and if this is what they want. For instance, if you are looking for a place to buy mother-of-the-groom dresses, you will search Google typing mother-of-the-groom dresses, or maybe, mother-of-the-groom dresses for sale. Google will take you to a page with a list of ads and websites that sell mother-of-the-groom dresses with specific content and attractive photos. You browse the list and if you like a dress photo or decide to go to one particular site, wouldn’t it be nice to see a clear headline like mother-of-the-groom dresses instead of mother-of-the-bride?
Which site is answering my call? Which one understood what I wanted? Obviously, the first site that took me straight to the page I needed. The second site takes me to mother-of-the-bride dresses and makes me wonder if they are the same or not, or if they expect me to navigate into their website longer to find a specific place for grooms. Really? I do not have time for that!
So, first, start with the most important information. Then, the supporting facts and features, like brand, colour, prices, etc. and later, towards the end, include some background information that will help the visitor justify their choice.
Use Active Voice
I must confess, this is my least favourite rule. And I am so reluctant to follow. I love the passive voice, but SEO does not! Instead of writing, “mother-of-the-groom dresses can be ordered on our website”, you should write “you can order mother-of-the-groom dresses on our website”.
Active voice creates reader-friendly sentences. And it is more concise and direct to guide the visitor to the proper call to action.
Visualise Your Messages
The visual appeal of your website has a massive impact on the readability and its acceptability by visitors. Everybody likes what is beautiful. When you communicate your message to your target audience, use features that attract them. Maybe a photo or video instead of a text would produce better results. Sometimes it is better to see than to read.
Try to declutter your pages as much as you can to improve their aesthetics:
- Make your pages easier to navigate and to read
- Reinforce highlights with bold text or italics
- Ensure the fonts you choose are readable and not tiring to the eyes
- Break a long paragraph into headings and subheadings
- Use bullet points for conciseness
- Use customers’ quotes to optimise your products or services
- Add real-world examples to emphasise familiarity
- Focus in the human experience as the epicentre of your story
- Add white space as the web designer best friend
- Make your products or services desirable.
No jargon. Reserve technical terms for the technological industry (unless your text is about that, of course). But use proper names to be consistent and avoid confusing the reader.
Remember, your visitors don’t have time for your philosophies. They are in a hurry. So, be as simple as possible and go straight to the point. I suggest you prepare an outline of your content idea before you start writing. Be precise and organised when you write.
Make the text easy to follow. And be careful with jokes you might want to include; if so, make sure they are part of your target audience before you add them.
Using words that your visitors are familiar with will also help you with SEO search because they are the keywords people use when they search the net.
Don't Hide from Visitors
You do have to attract potential clients to your website by the delivery of useful information. But how will they find you? That’s when SEO reigns. Any information you write on the net need to be SEO friendly.
SEO can be a complex subject, complex enough for many people to make a living of it. But we can start with basic SEO principles, and they will help you a great deal:
- Try to deal with only one key topic in each page
- Answer the questions your target audience asks
- Use potential keywords for your target audience
- Add links to other relevant pages on your site and other websites.
Audiences find content through many different routes, from social media, email sharing to links from other websites or SEO results. There are several ways to reach and research your website audience. Alexa offers some useful tools to research your audience. When you research your audience and your competitor audience, you find other sites that your visitors like to visit, what topics interest them and their keyword impact. These results are significant, and they will inspire new topics you can write about, identify industry trends, and other competitive analysis tools that will help you improve your site position.
Great content is just one of the ways to appeal to them. And just as important.
Isn’t a picture worth a thousand words? Well, infographics, videos, illustrations are too. Remember that we human beings are visual learners; our human brains access much more visual information than text.
Many times an easy to ready infographic would be worthier than a long text alone. Charts are handy for comparisons and trends. If a web designer can incorporate the skills of a graphic designer, a high visual appeal will be on the way. Increasing visual appeal is essential to stimulate communication of ideas to the visitors promoting aesthetic senses and producing a sensation of inter-connection.
Leave Your Visitors Wanting More
What would your visitors want to do after they have browsed and enjoyed your website? Quite probably, they will want to buy your product, contact you or use your services. They will want to continue their natural next step towards your objective. They are delighted with your product; they are engaged with your service. It is your time to offer a clear and compelling call to action in a direction that will help both the visitors and you to achieve your respective goals.
If your visitors are here, it seems you have done your job correctly. Your visitors want to become your customers. Be kind to them. Tell them what they should do. Download? Share? Join? Learn more? Watch? Sign Up? Buy? And ensure the hyperlink you give your visitors, actually allows them to fulfil their anticipations to complete the action you expect them to do.
To Sum Up
As you can see, writing content for your website is hard work. Once your content is alive, on the website or the blog post, you can continue measuring its effect and optimisation with tools like Google Analytics, to monitor and modify your content when needed.
We’ll continue talking on creating great content on the next blog post. It is such a rich subject, so don’t panic. Next post will bring you some essential marketing tips, do’s and don’ts and more secrets to writing a website content that will please both your visitors and search engines.
Go on! Create your first effective content for your website and reap the rewards!