Creating effective content for the web requires your best writing, public relations, sales and organizational skills. Whether you sell a product, provide a service, promote an idea or simply want a way to connect with people online, you only have a few seconds to state your purpose and capture each visitor’s attention.

The quality and presentation of your content - from your first headline to your strongest “call to action” - will determine whether you are able to get your message across or convert visitors into customers.

Writing for the web

What works for print doesn’t automatically work for the web. Remember this when you begin developing content for your website. “Keep it short and simple” - the rule for radio and TV ads - also applies to the web. If you understand how and why people browse the web, you’ll be able to write copy that will get results.

Keep it simple

Effective web content is simple, concise and to the point. Web pages that are short, engaging and easy to read encourage people to browse the site. People surfing the web want useful information organized in a logical way. They like simple navigation, good grammar and limited text. If your copy gives them what they want, they will visit often and want to interact with you.

Like search engine spiders, online surfers scan web pages looking for keywords and general information. They rarely read every word. The purpose of your home page is to set the theme or mood for the entire site, present an overview of your mission, products and/or services, and provide easy access to other areas of the website where people can find more information.

TIP: Studies using heat sensors to measure eye movement patterns on web pages have shown that people typically read web pages from left to right in a pattern resembling a capitol “F”. They scan the headline and first few lines, then drop down the left side of the page and slightly across the second paragraph or header.

Tell your story using keywords and phrases

Place keywords and phrases high on your web page. It’s important to place keywords and a short description of your website’s purpose in the header and opening sentences of your home page. Here is where you tell visitors who you are, what you do and why they will want to interact with you. If you have a marketing statement, consider placing it within the top third of your home page as well. Include information on how visitors can contact you and be sure to feature a call to action. All additional information can be presented in the major sections of your website, accessible through links from the home page.

TIPS: Make sure your keywords and keyword phrases appear at least three times on a page and are relevant to that page. Also include a general-purpose statement about your website on every web page. Keep in mind that people who find your site via a search engine may not enter through your home page.

Keep it short

Visitors and search engines like short, simple text. Not only are short sentences easier to read and comprehend on the fly, home pages with short text are easier to spider and generally receive higher search engine rankings. People are more likely to browse a page if the text is sparse. If your text runs long, simply create another web page with new keywords and phrases. The content on this page can now be spidered and added to the search engine’s database.

TIP: A minimum of 250 to 300 words are needed for the spider to gather enough information to evaluate and rank a web page.

Be consistent and personal

Use a consistent voice and writing style. When writing for the web, be consistent in your writing style and use of headers, sentence structures, descriptive phrases and paragraph lengths. Because the web is an impersonal place, your writing style should also be accessible and engaging. Use a friendly, conversational style and people will want to do business with you. Use dense, descriptive prose, and people won’t linger or explore your site.

Call to Action

Turn visitors into customers with a call to action. Your content should include verbs that encourage, persuade or motivate someone to take action. These are commands like “click here,” “sign up today,” “order now,” “get info”, “register for our newsletter,” “tell a friend” or “share comments.” This traditional marketing tool works well on the web.

Quotes and Testimonials

Personalize your website with quotes and testimonials. Customer quotes and testimonials will add a personal touch to your website and help instill confidence in your products and services. Ask visitors, customers and clients to share comments about their experiences with you and your company. Always get permission to include others' comments on your site.

TIP: When quoting articles or other documents, use a small section of the quote and, if necessary, link to another page with the remaining text. Use quotations or Italics to make the text stand out and always include the source.

Grow your website

The more content the better. Search engines assign higher rankings to websites with the most pages, the idea being that the more content on your site, the more valuable the information it must contain. However, only pages with real, non-duplicated content are counted.

If you want to increase your page rank, consider adding new content to your website on a regular basis. This will not only encourage search engines to spider your site more often (see SEO article), the new or changing content will attract repeat visitors. This will increase your traffic, build your customer base and contribute to your page rank.

How do you write effective content for the web?

Know you business and your audience. Anticipate what they want and give them the information they seek. Write content that is simple, short and useful. Focus on good grammar and organization. Be personal and engaging. Change your content often and create a variety of ways for people to interact with you.

Most of all, spend as much time creating website content as you do building other aspects of your business. If you want a successful online business or strong presence on the web, how you tell your story is just as important as who you are and what you have to offer. Good luck!

Step 3:  Making the Most of Links

Search Engines | SEO | Keywords | Content | Links