Website Content Worksheet

Content Writing for Websites

Your website is the most essential piece of virtual property, second perhaps to your social media pages. That’s why it is imperative to ensure that your business website, from design to content accurately reflects what it is all about.

One of the biggest mistakes we see businesses make is trying to sell their services with sloppy, confusing, and bloated written content. Not only will low-quality content result in you losing sales but your credibility will take a hit too, and that’s regardless of how good your services or products happen to be.

On the other hand, website content that’s easy to read, soft-sell your services, and reflects what your business is all about helps to reach out to potential customers. Even aspects like your blog posts will attract more shares, and that, in turn, will mean more websites linking back to yours. Over time there will be people who blog about your product and services consequently helping you do more business.

The Anatomy of Great Website Content

Great Website content should consist of the following:

  • Geared Towards Your Audience
  • Structured for a Short Attention Span
  • Extremely Simple
  • Show the Product
  • SEO Friendly or Optimized
  • Easily Scannable
  • A Call to Action (CTA)

Write for Your Audience

Sure! It sounds like common sense advise, but most businesses don’t seem to understand or at least implement this in their content. So, the outcome is often content that’s bloated, pointless and offers nothing of value to the visitor. That’s why we strongly advise that before you draft any content for a business make sure to ask the following three questions:

  • Who will read the texts on my website?
  • Who is the secondary audience? (these are generally people who can inform and influence the primary audience)
  • How will my potential clients find the website?

Let’s say you’re working on website content for a law firm. The target primary audience could be existing clients, but the secondary audience is perhaps much broader. The secondary audience includes law reporters and other attorneys who may require your services at any time. So, the content needs to be both interesting and easy to read.

Sections like your home page need to answer important questions that these groups of people may ask like how many successful cases have you had? So, most of these questions should either be answered on the website or they should be led to book an appointment to get answers to more specific questions.

You also need to consider that audiences tend to stumble upon your content or business differently. Some may actively Google it, others may see it on a social media site like Facebook, while a couple of local clients may have heard about your services from people in their friends’ circle.

Statics show that apart from a few special circumstances or specific types of businesses, most websites will receive their traffic from search engines. So, the texts need to be very well written and also optimized for search engines. If not even the best-written content will go to waste as it will never be read.

Structure Your Website for Short Attention Span

Numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of people on the internet have very short attention spans. Most people will take just a second to decide if your website is the one they want to stay on or hit the ‘back button’ and find another. So, your website needs to be structured in a way that gets them hooked instantly or at least long enough for you to sell them your service or product.

INTERESTING FACT

Pardot ran a consumer survey that showed 97% of consumers said that low quality content negatively impacted their ability to trust a brand, service, or product.

We’ve often seen the best results from using what’s known in the content writing industry as the inverted pyramid. In its most simplistic terms, it means to put the most essential message first or on the top of the page. That message should give you an extra few seconds to then provide the visitor with more supporting and contextual information.

Building on the example from above, let’s say you’re drafting content for the law firm’s page that’s meant for people who are looking for a lawyer to handle their drunk driving case. The most important thing for people who come to this page is knowing how successful the attorney or the law firm is with a similar situation in the past. Some people may want to know if the firm has any prior experience dealing with such cases.

So, you’ll open with a headline similar to: “99% Success Rate Over the Past 10 Years in all Drunk Driving Cases.” Then the three lines below should further elaborate on how that success is assured. Further details can then be in paragraphs below that because by this point you already have the prospect interested.

A study by Microsoft revealed that the average human’s attention span has dropped from 12 seconds back in 2000, to just 8 seconds.

Keep the Content Simple

One of the biggest challenges of writing good web content is to keep things simple. Explaining exactly what your service does in three sentences instead of six requires skill and experience. Unfortunately, some people still write long sentences which do not cut it with current day attention spends. You also need to factor in the fact that the average American adult can read up to just 9th grade-level English. That’s why it pays to make your content as simple as possible, which we admit is easier said than done.

One of the things many successful web content writers have done is to use mainly verbs and nouns with adjectives and adverbs used as few times as possible. Also, avoid big words like “equanimity” and instead use a more common word like “calm.”

You can use many of the freely available text readability apps online which will scan your text and give it a grade level. The most common is the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Show it and They Will Buy

We are not talking about the product pictures on your website. Neither are we referring to pictures of your team at work. Sure, pictures are worth a thousand words, but your words should be able to accurately show the reader why it’s worth their money.

Your prose shouldn’t be limited to just generalized statements or ones with tall claims. The best way to sell your service or a product is with a real-world example, which helps the reader visualize the message.

So here are two examples:

“The best roofing company that money can buy!”

or

“We provide expert roof replacement that’s guaranteed to be durable thanks to the use of certified high-quality materials making your roof impervious to the worst storms and hurricanes!”

Which roofing service would you prefer to call? Most people will find that the second version is the best as it provides a clearer picture of what to expect.

Interestingly a more specific, and rather descriptive information helps with SEO, in addition to the information they need to make a purchase. We will talk more about SEO below.

SEO Friendly or Optimized

Remember, we stated that your website needs to be found by prospects which is where SEO or Search Engine Optimization comes in. Generally, the vast majority of free traffic and how most prospects will find you will be to Google. If your business website happens to appear on the first page that ensures business success at least in terms of getting inquiries and leads.

While there are many aspects to running an SEO campaign, experts unanimously agree that optimized content is 50% of the work. Well-optimized content on your website will make ranking a lot easier. 

INTERESTING FACT

Google still powers 80% of the World’s search! So, if your website content isn’t drafted with Google’s search guidelines and algorithm in mind, your chances of ranking are slim.

Now writing optimized content hinges on two things:

  • The content should include the keywords people will use to search for your business
  • The content needs to be well categorized, mapped out and then drafted

If you are writing website content for your own business, the content needs to do all of the above while still being human-friendly or readable. The keywords have to be used skillfully and tactfully to get the best results.

You’ll find dozens of books and websites that talk about writing SEO content for websites mainly because it is difficult and hard to master. However, getting this one aspect of your content wrong can spell disaster for your entire business.

Your Texts Should Be Scannable

As stated above, most if not everyone visiting your website has a very short attention span. So, you can’t expect them to read an entire web page top to bottom. Sure! Some people may read the whole page, but that’s only after they have scanned it. So, your text has to be scannable.

A scannable page is one that makes it very easy for a person to quickly scrol through it to find interesting bits of information. If they can’t find what they are looking for even if it is there, you will lose them.

After all, do you read every word on a website? Or do you jump around the page looking for what you want?

Here are a couple of things you can do to make your website content on just about every page scannable:

  • Use numerical lists and bullets instead of extensive paragraphs. Each bulleted list can be organized into tabs with relevant labels.
  • Make sure to include “white space.” It is generally defined as empty space around your paragraphs, and other elements of your website. Even though it could seem to the average person as being wasted space but in fact, it is your best friend. White space when done right around your texts, makes it readable and more enjoyable for a visitor to consume.
  • All website content needs to be divided into sections each one with a well thought off subheader which surmises what it is all about. Sub-headers are essential because not only do they help with navigating the page, but they also help leading search engines to index your content.

Leave Them with Your Call to Action (CTA)

What do you want visitors on your website to do? Do you want them to call, email, or give you their contact information? Without a call to action, all those lines of excellent copy you’ve written are pointless because visitors will not know what to do with it.

A CTA or Call to Action, tells the visitor on your website what they should do, even if it is downright obvious. Your CTA should be one line stating something like “Call 866-000-222 For Professional help Today.” Or “Buy [Product] Today and Experience Permanent Relief.” In each instance, the CTA is different, but it still tells the visitor what you want them to do.

The thing about call to actions is that you should keep them brief, and start it with an action like in our case we used “buy” and ”call,” similar verbs would be “Download,” “Sign UP,” “Join,” “Watch” etc. You’ll also want to include a hyperlink or some other means of helping a visitor take the action you want.

Conclusion – The Above is Just the Beginning!

Writing content for your website, or any other type of business writing is hard work. You need to get it 90% right on the first try, or all that money you’re pouring into advertising and marketing could be wasted. Not to mention the money you’re spending on SEO, which if you’re not doing your business would probably never take off.

It is important to check your content every month to figure out how it can be improved further. Generally, if you got things right on the first try as we suggest, those changes will be minor at best like moving the ‘CTA’ button or perhaps changing the opening headline. You can also try split testing another version of the page to see which one does better and find out why. However, all of that is beyond the scope of this tutorial, that’s why writing website content is often considered deceptively simple!

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