5 Things Kristin Wants You to Know About How to Write Content for Websites
I’m weird about words. They really matter to me.
I’ll spend precious minutes hunting for just the right one. My love of words is one reason I don’t like emojis – because they are pictures, and people use them to replace words. So when people ask me how to write content for websites, I tell them that the first step is to choose the right and best words.
Unlike other forms of writing, the right and best words really matter with writing for websites. Once you know what those words are, it takes skill and experience to make the best use of them. This means that while you can let your brother-in-law’s cousin who majored in English write the content on the front page of your website, you probably shouldn’t.
Here are five things I want you to know about how to write for websites.
You need to write for humans first and search engines second.
I know you want to be No. 1 in a Google search. Who doesn’t? But if you think that writing a tangle of buzzwords and jargon will put you at the top of search results, you’re wrong. Google awards major points for things like how long people stay on your page (dwell time), how much traffic comes to your site through organic search and the quality of your content, among other things.
Each of those factors – quality, dwell time, traffic – are affected and influenced by whether the information you provide is well written and easy to understand. If you write for humans first, it’s much easier to make search engines happy.
Website writing is about scanning and scrolling.
The content on your homepage, your About page and maybe even your Services page should have short, easy-to-read sentences – around 25 words is a good target. Those pages also should include subheads and callouts. Callouts are standalone info, such as statistic or testimonials, that support your brand and tell viewers what they need to know.
If paragraphs look long on paper, they’ll look even longer on screens. To make it easy on your viewers, identify ways to break up long paragraphs into smaller segments, or better yet, numbered or bulleted lists.
Write for your audience, not for yourself.
People go to the internet to search for what they need – information, products, services, entertainment. You need to write for whatever problem they are trying to solve, whether it’s a need for business support services or reputable vendor-partners.
The tone of your website should be conversational, friendly and jargon-free. You want visitors to your website to quickly grasp who you are, what you do and why you’re the perfect choice to solve their problem. If you are in a technical industry – software as a service, for example – it’s fine to use technical language, as long as you use the words your customers use and write like they talk.
It will be obvious if your keywords are an afterthought.
Have you ever read the content on a webpage and thought to yourself, “This is gibberish.”? It may be that the keywords were added in as an afterthought. That often happens after a new or redesigned website doesn’t show up high enough in Google rankings.
Keywords aren’t the only thing that make a site rank high in search results, but used well, they can certainly help. And it’s much easier to write with those words in mind than to stuff them in once your content is posted for the world to read.
Website writing is not something everyone does well.
Writing styles are different, and so are best practices for different forms of digital content, such as social media posts. Writing for websites is definitely not the same as writing for printed books and magazines or even their online versions.
Different kinds of writing, and the formats for how content is published, require independent but similar sets of skills. You might find you’re better at writing a brochure than webpage content, and that’s OK. We all have our strengths. If you decide to let a professional tackle your website writing, remember, they aren’t writing a term paper or a book. They are writing for your website and keeping all the things in mind that good webpage content requires.
Those are five things I wanted you to know about writing for websites. Our team at Vela Agency builds lots of really good ones, so if you been thinking about a redesign or a new build, contact us today.