Too many businesses invest time and care into designing a beautiful website, only to let it down with sloppy content.
You don't have to be a great writer to write a great website. You just need to know how people read online and what they're looking for, so you can help them find it.
Whatever line of work you're in, keeping these simple rules in mind when writing your website, blogs and other content can lead to more engagement and more conversions.
Write compelling headlines
Titles are the first thing people see in search results and social media news feeds. If your title doesn't grab them, they're unlikely to click through to your content.
Aim for short, snappy titles of 8-10 words that tell people what to expect in the fewest words possible. Longer titles may get cut off in search results and feeds after they hit a certain word count.
Summarise the key points
Online writing takes its cue from the 'inverted pyramid' of journalism. The most important information is found at the top where it can grab readers, before going into more detail later.
Like titles, introductions should summarise the article as concisely as possible, giving the key points while making readers eager to find out more.
Break it down with subheadings
People don't read websites like a book or newspaper article. They tend to scan and scroll to find the precise information they're searching for. Help them to find it with clear subheadings.
When you use the proper tags and include keywords, subheadings can also help with on-page SEO.
Keep it simple
Unless you're writing something very technical, the rule of web writing is to make content easy to read. Keep in mind that your content should be accessible to non-native speakers and those who may have difficulty understanding complex words.
Use the simple, everyday language your audience does to communicate clearly and improve your search engine rankings.
Keep it short
Even if you're writing a long page with lots of information, breaking it down into short sections of short sentences makes it a lot easier to read. No one enjoys reading a wall of text.
You can mix up different lengths for variety, but try to keep sentences under 29 words and each section no longer than a few sentences.
Make it personal
Don't treat your content as a speech to the crowd, but a conversation with an individual. Don't tell your readers how your service benefits 'our clients,' but how it helps 'you.'
Creating personas for your target audience could help you to write more personalised content for your target demographics.
Make it active
Exciting copy is active, not passive. Start sentences with verbs ('doing' words) to tell readers what they can do, not what can be done.
Don't tell your readers 'our free ebook can be downloaded here.' Invite them to 'download our free ebook today.'
No one knows your business better than you do. Tell your customers how it works and how you can help them solve their problem. No one's interested in what 'might' work.
There are exceptions when a persuasive tone is discouraged, such as in the health industry. Even then, you can back up claims you make by citing an authoritative reference.
Use keywords naturally
SEO (search engine optimisation) has changed drastically in the past few years. While many websites used to chase a number one Google ranking by stuffing as many keywords into content as possible, today that behaviour will get you penalised.
No one wants to read a page clogged with awkward keywords, but keywords are still important for helping people find you. Find ways to use them organically without disrupting the flow, especially in headings, URLs and meta data.
If you're talking about a list of features or benefits, or a sequence of steps, it makes sense to present these as a bulleted or numbered list rather than a long paragraph.
Lists are user-friendly, easy on the eye and help to break up the page. Aim to follow the same style throughout to keep lists consistent, such as beginning each step with an active verb or making every point a question.
Don't forget about images
A picture tells a thousand words, and social media links with images perform much better than plain text links. Every page or blog post you write should include at least one image, whether it's a photo or graphic. These should be relevant to the content or set the right tone.
Stock photos are fine for blog posts, but your website images should be unique. Never use an image that you don't have the rights to.
Don't forget about links
Links bind the internet together. They help people to find your site and to navigate around when they get there. Give them a shortcut with relevant links.
Links should be kept short and include a keyword. Like keywords, you shouldn't overstuff a page with links, as this can be confusing. Work out which ones are most important and direct your readers where you want them to go next.
Include calls to action
When you've given the reader all the information they need, encourage them to take the next step with a persuasive call to action.
Whether you want people to make a booking, call your team or click through to the next page, make it simple with a clear link or button. You can include more than one call to action on a page, but too many can be annoying.
Check everything you write
Finally, when you've written something you're happy with, make sure you read it through to check for spelling, grammar, flow and to make sure you haven't left anything out.
Then ask someone else to check it. Mistakes make you look unprofessional, so when you've invested the time writing great content, it's worth taking just a few extra minutes to get it right.
Check out Limecube's digital marketing guide for more tips to help you create and grow your website.