Content writing is a crucial part of the website building process. When you’re planning to launch a new website for your business, you’ll need to put in a great deal of time and energy for creating value-added content. You can easily differentiate one website from another on the basis of the quality of content. In the modern era of content marketing, it’s simply impossible to build a great website without great content. Unless your website features great content, you won’t be able to hold visitors longer enough to turn them into paying customers.
A lot of websites fail to engage visitors and generate leads simply because of poorly written content, regardless of their attractive designs. If you plan to quickly stand out and build a unique identity in your niche, you should make sure that the content on your website offers real value to readers.
Web Writing vs Print Writing
Do you understand the difference between writing for the web and writing for the print media? Before you start developing content for your business website, you should have a crystal-clear understanding of both the writing styles. Unless you know the difference between the two, you’re very likely to make mistakes and create website content that won’t get you the desired results.
First and foremost, the web is a highly active medium. Unlike the print content, web content is reader-driven. In the print media, the author has greater control and the readers are eager to follow the author’s lead. On the web, however, you don’t have much control over the reader. You should always keep in mind that readers on the web only skim content without paying attention to the details.
Studies have proved that –
> Readers on the web are in a hurry to collect information.
> Readers on the web don’t read content word for word.
> Readers on the web have a skeptical attitude.
> Readers on the web suffer from information overload.
When writing for the web, you should keep all these facts in your mind. It’s only when you understand how readers read and behave on the web that you’ll be able to create value-added content for your website.
The Target Audience
Before you start building the content for your website, you should define your target audience – the group of people you’ll market to. Unless you know who your target audience is, you won’t be able to communicate effectively because you won’t know what type of content and what style of writing they’d value.
It’s simply impossible to please everyone. If you want to achieve success in a business, you should target a specific group of people. A successful website, therefore, seeks to attract the attention of a specific group of people. So, you need to identify who your target audience is and then become the best in a niche you operate. You need to build a profile of the audience you wish to target. In fact, the target audience profiling should be done in a way that you can imagine someone you’ll communicate with through the content on your website.
Don’t ever make the mistake of assuming things. If you assume that your target audience thinks like you, it may not always be the case. You should be ready to identify who your target audience really is and understand their wants, needs and desires so that you can effectively plan to connect with them.
Take a look at these examples –
> A single female, in her mid twenties, renting an apartment in Boston, and battling with unemployment
> A stay-at-home mother, in her late thirties, with two children, living in NYC, with a total family income of more than $50,000 a year
> A college student, under the age of 25, living in Texas, working part-time, and making less than $20,000 per year
Each of the above-mentioned examples contains a few details of people. Though you can come up with multiple variations for each of these, the details are certainly enough to create a picture in your mind. A solid demographic base, therefore, is essential when you plan to delve deeper into the needs and desires of a target audience.
How to Write Content for a Website
Apart from understanding the difference between web writing and print writing and why defining target audience matters, you should also equip yourself with the best practices of writing content for a website. By following these guidelines, you’ll make sure that your content is effortlessly readable, user-friendly and easier for major search engines (like Google, Yahoo and Bing) to find.
Start with an Outline: It’s always advisable to create an outline for the content you want to create for your website. The main idea should be broken down into multiple sub ideas so that content writing becomes manageable.
Address the Target Audience: You have defined your target audience already, right? While writing the content, you should remember who you are writing for, what they want from a web page and what you want to achieve. To make your web page content easier to be found by search engines, you should also incorporate those words that your target audience would use when looking for a particular product, service or a piece of information.
Use Plain English: Readers on the web don’t like jargon or complex language. So, you should always use simple, familiar words. Sentences and paragraphs should be short and written in the active voice. The language has to be positive. Most importantly, you should follow university editorial style guide.
Be Concise: Since you already know that readers on the web look for information, you should always say it concisely. Cut out the fluff, but include information generously. Longer web pages can easily drive visitors away. Therefore, you should never create longer web pages unnecessarily. Just remember to provide key information in a succinct manner so that visitors can take the desired action.
Put the Main Points First: Web content writers always follow the inverted pyramid style, which means putting the most important information at the top of the page. If you plan to attract visitors quickly, you should present the main points front and center, and then proceed backwards from there.
Don’t Exaggerate: Today’s web readers are smarter than ever. They can easily see through the scheme of things. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you avoid the use of lots of adjectives or flowery words. Don’t show off or pretend what you’re not. Objectivity in language will help you build credibility.
Make Sure the Tone is Consistent: The tone of the content is very important. To keep it consistent all across the website, you should employ one writer. Getting the content for your website written by multiple writers should be avoided at all cost, as it will only add inconsistency to the tone.
Leave Adequate White Space: Web pages that look over-packed with text (and graphics) frustrate the visitor. While writing content for a website, you should always remember to leave plenty of white space around the text. Lots of white space on a page improves readability a great deal and makes the visitor feel at home.
Check and Re-Check for Grammatical Errors: All the content on your website should be free from any kind of grammatical or language errors. If your website contains lots of such errors, it will reflect really badly on your company’s reputation. It looks unprofessional and sends the wrong signal to the visitor. Therefore, you should make sure that every piece of content that goes live on your website is grammatically error-free. Check for these errors at least 2-3 times before making the content on your website live for the world to see.
Write for Scanners
Most of the people on the web only scan content. So, you should do everything possible to make scanning easier for them. For example, the headline should quickly communicate what a particular web page is about. Likewise, the subheadings and image captions used on the page should also be meaningful. Using checklists to reduce wordiness also enhances scannability.
The way you build a website can make or break a business. Without great content, it’s just impossible to market a business website. Whether you get the content writing done by your in-house team or outsource the task to an agency, you should make sure that the content on your website offers real value to the reader so that you can attract attention quickly, engage easily and generate more leads.