You’ve heard the statement “content is king” and this is actually still true. But today, search engines like Google are so bogged down with blogs, video tutorials, and social media posts that the king’s crown is starting to lose its luster.
A more accurate phrase is “compelling content is king.” This means your copy is always relevant, engaging, and informative to new and returning users. It sounds easy, but it’s a real struggle for even the most experienced web writers.
Why such word games? As with anything in life, there’s a healthy balance you need to achieve, even when writing for the web. For writers, you need to keep users engaged while also following Google’s best practices for SEO.
Finding a Good Balance
This leaves many writers wondering who to write for first: the search engines or the user. The answer is always the latter, but remember the rules Google puts in place are designed to provide a better user experience. So, if your website or landing page is fully optimized, but it’s not engaging users, you’ll lose rankings anyway.
5 Best Practices for Web Writing
To help you cut through the clutter and develop content that draws users in and still supports your ongoing SEO efforts, we’ve listed the top 5 best practices for web writing.
Ready? Set? Let’s go!
1) It’s About Them, Not You
We talked about this tip in a recent article, but we still find that brands like to talk about themselves more than their customers. Just a quick scan of a webpage, and you might find “We offer this” or “we provide that”…yada, yada, yada. Remember, users visit your website for one reason: to find a solution to a problem.
Our best advice is to build your entire brand messaging around your audience’s needs. They don’t want to hear about you, as much as they want to learn about what YOU can do for THEM.
2) Entice Users at the Beginning
Did you know that, on average, people will read less than 20% of a page’s text? That means you have one shot to keep them on the page. The best way to do this is with an exciting headline and first paragraph that gets right to the point.
- Think about when you open a book. If the first page doesn’t spark your interest, you usually toss the book aside and look for one that does.
- We understand if you’re worried about getting to the point right away, as this could cause users to bounce early. This happens, but if you can address what they need right away and provide them more incentive to scroll down the page (e.g., videos, promotions, FAQs, reviews, etc). they are more likely to stay on longer.
- This works for returning users, too. Think about writing a blog on a subject. Because you answered a question and got right to the point, users are more likely to consider you a reliable resource and return to your blog for other related questions.
You may have grown up hearing the tagline: “keep it simple, stupid.” I know I did. Well, when it comes to content, simplicity is key. Once readers are hooked, don’t lose them with technical jargon or unnecessarily details that take away from the original message.
Here are a few ways you can keep it simple:
- Keep paragraphs short (rule of thumb: 3-4 sentences)
- Utilize lists/bullets to make copy scannable
- Include optimized headers to break up the text
- Feature links to other sources (remember to open in a new tab)
4) Keep Your Tone Consistent
Come up with four attributes that describe your brand and use them to guide your writing style. Would you say your culture is fun, professional, approachable, or technical?
We recommend creating a tone/voice guide that outlines your brand’s attributes to share with your team. This way you can ensure everyone is using the same voice on the web and the correct tone across multiple channels (e.g., website, social media, PRs, emails, etc.)
Need help crafting a tone/voice guide? We can help!
5) Proof Your Work
Always double (no!) TRIPLE check your work! A spelling error here, a missed hyphen there, or a comma splice is a fast way to lose credibility with your reader. Make sure you have at least 3 other sets of eyes proofreading everything before publication.
One thing we love about writing for the web is that you can always go back in and correct an error, but make sure you’re the one finding it, not the reader.
Need to Refresh Your Website Copy?
Our content creation team loves using words! But mostly, we enjoy creating quality content that educates and engages users—it’s kind of our thing!
If you think your website copy could use a refresh, we offer professional content creation and development services. This means we can help you identify your tone/voice and optimize your website copy so that it attracts users and improves rankings simultaneously.
If you’d like to learn more about our content marketing services, contact us today!