So you decided to get a website. You found a web designer and got a fabulous modern and mobile friendly website design, but now you need to provide content and don’t know where to start. A well designed website without search engine friendly content is like a mobile without reception. You need both to make the most of it.
There are more than 1.5 billion websites live on the Internet, more than 2 trillion Google searches per day, and roughly 350,000 tweets sent every minute.
Capturing readers’ interests in this highly competitive universe can be challenging to say the least. According to some studies 55% of visitors spend 15s or less on a web page.
Good website content is the key to beating these statistics. Well-written, mobile and SEO friendly website rises to the top of search results and holds readers’ attention.
1. Know your audience
It sounds so simple, but is it really. Before writing your website content, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is my primary audience?
- What about a secondary audience who can influence and inform my primary audience?
- How will people find my site online?
If you own an accountancy firm or work for one, your primary audience might be existing clients. However, your secondary audience is much broader. You will need to make sure your content is both accessible and interesting to all of these audiences. Where are they most active online? What kind of information do they need?
Text could be well-written and informative, but if it’s not optimised for search engines, chances are few people will find it. Think of your audience again: what search terms would they type into Google? Make sure to include those terms in headlines and sub-headers.
2. Write the most important info at the top of your web page
People online have short attention spans, they will decide whether your website has the information they need in just a few seconds. Structure your content accordingly. The most important messages go at the top of the page. Then, gradually move down to the more specific, supporting information. End with the small details.
3. Write short, simple and easy to read sentences
The short attention span of today’s reader demands sentences of 35 words or less. Website content that is easy to read will naturally reach a wider audience. Concentrate on using nouns and verbs. Use adverbs and adjectives sparingly.
Your text’s readability is scored by a number or an education level (American Education System). These three tools will scan your text and score its readability:
4. Stick to active verbs
Use active rather than passive verbs, and specify the subject of the sentence. Active voice helps create short and reader friendly sentences. It is also more direct; when you speak directly to the audience (“You can do it”) it’s more engaging than saying “It can be done.”
5. Show, don’t tell, use examples wherever you can
Don’t limit your text to broad generalisations and high-level statements. Specific examples help readers better understand and visualise your messages.
6. Do not use jargon
Make sure information is understandable for the educated non-specialist. It is important to spell out acronyms on first reference. Avoid insider language. Explain complex or niche terms. And provide hyperlinks to other articles where readers can get more background information on a particular topic.
7. Mix up your words and don’t use “very” too often
When it comes to keeping your visitors interested, variety is key! Word Clouds are fun to use and can help you vary your world choice by visualising which words you use the most. Just copy and paste your text into a free word cloud tool like this one to generate your cloud. The more you use a word, the bigger it will look in your cloud. Have you overused a certain word? Type it into Thesaurus.com to find new synonyms to enhance your text.
Negative words standing out in your cloud? Now you know exactly what to change for a more positive tone. Keep an eye out for your website search keywords as well. Your keywords should appear several times in your text, so it should be easy to recognise them in a word cloud.
8. Make text scannable and quick to read
In addition to putting the most important information at the top of your web page, make sure text is easy to skim through. Most web readers will scan the page to find the specific piece of information they’re looking for, if they don’t find it easily, they will move on.
9. Incorporate multimedia
Sometimes a picture, or infographic, or video, is worth a thousand words. Research shows that 90% of the information transmitted to the human brain is visual, and people process visual information much faster than text. An easy-to-read chart or graph can also do a better job of explaining a complex topic than text alone. If you’re not a graphic designer, there are lots of ways to use media on your website and some great services out there to help you make graphics yourself, like Canva.
Images also help break up text, making your page easier to read. We recommend having at least one image on each page of your website.
10. Layer 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 adding website links to certain words or phrases to other relevant resources, especially those on your own website. This will help keep people engaged with your content and moving through your site.
Building internal links within your own site also helps your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but keep in mind that links should always be relevant and helpful. Visually, if you overload your text with links, people won’t know what to click on.
11. Leave them wanting more
Good websites end each page with a strong call to action. Is there a person a reader should contact for more information? An interesting video they should watch? How about a related blog post they can read or a report they can download? This strategy helps direct readers to other areas of your website and encourages them to promote your content to their friends and family.
Keep these calls-to-action short, and start them with action verbs like “Download,” “Share,” “Join,” “Sign Up,” “Learn More” or “Watch” and make sure to include a hyperlink that actually works.
You don’t need to write perfect texts first time around! Once your content is live, you can do monthly website checks to monitor and optimise its performance. And once your content is written, read this checklist for designing easy-to-read text on your site.