A seven step guide to writing good web content

how to seo, optimisation, optimizationYou have just a few seconds to capture someone’s interest when they arrive at your website.

Perhaps they found you via search results, clicked a link on a friend’s Facebook page and ended up here, or maybe they typed your web address into the browser having seen it printed somewhere.

However your reader arrives at your site, what they do next and whether they hang around is largely down to you.

How to keep readers engaged online

Marketers say Search Engine Optimisation is the secret to online business success.

But if your website is confusing, busy, difficult to navigate or just plain dull, then all your SEO work is wasted, and a visitor will click the back button before you can say “How can I help?”

Here’s your seven step checklist to making sure your website is as welcoming as a luxury health spa in Winter.

sem, optimisation, optimization1. What do you sell?

Visitors need to be able to grasp what you’re offering within seconds of landing on your website.

Clever animations, witty quotes and arty images may be to your taste, but if they blur the message of what your business is about then you’re better off without them.

Have a clear header at the top of your site which clearly communicates what you offer and how to contact you.

2.  Laying out your text and pictures

how to reduce bounce rate, how to sell online, F reading online
The way our eyes read web content is very different to how we read print

Countless studies into how users read online content consistently show that our eyes follow an ‘F’ shape.

Heatmaps, like the one of the left, have been used to track eye movement, and show where the concentration of attention lies on a webpage.

The general pattern is:

– We start at the top and scan left to right.

– Then we skip down the page and read another line or two.

– Finally we glance down the left hand side from top to bottom.

Armed with this information, how does your website measure up?  Where is your most important information located?

3.  Have systems that work

This morning I received an email about a clothing sale at one of my favourite stores.  My little boy’s trousers are starting to look a bit short as he’s going through a growth spurt (aren’t they always?) so I checked out the boys’ items and added a pair of jeans to my basket.

what is seo, how to seo, optimizationThen I tried to go back to the page I was on before I’d added them to my shopping bag.  I wanted to keep looking from where I was, to see if there were any others in the right size and design.

But I had to go right back to the beginning of my search, and choose “Sale”, then “Clothes”, “Children’s clothes”, ‘Boys”, then “Age 2-3”.  I had to do this every time I bought something.

I don’t have a long attention span online (who does?) so it wasn’t long before I shut the window down without buying anything*.

We’re incredibly fickle as shoppers, particularly online where a fish has a longer attention span than your average customer, so make sure your checkout system is trouble-free with no glitches.

4.  Use subheadings (and short sentences)

When I read online I scan the page, searching for what I’m looking for.  I certainly don’t read every word.

And I’m not alone.

Studies show that users skip large chunks of text online.

If you’re not quite sure how to apply this thinking to your website, have a look at any news story on the BBC website (like this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15287115).

There is a concise introduction in bold text.

There are subheadings.

Block quotes highlighted to the side of the main article…………

how to write for the web, how to use facebook for business, social media for business
And images with captions that relate to the story.

Compare that with this: http://www.gordonwaynewatts.com/.  Scroll down on his page to really see what I mean. (And down…. And down).

It may all be fascinating information but for me to take in what’s being said is near impossible. “Back!”

writing for the web, opimization5.  Tell users what to do

No I don’t mean being a bossy boots.

I mean be clear what they need to do in order to buy your product.  Studies have shown that 60% more people will share your content on Facebook if you ask them to.

I hope you found this useful – if you did, we’d love it if you shared it with your friends on Facebook.  Just click the Facebook  logo below to share the love.  Thank you!

This can also be applied to selling online.  Be clear what users need to do in order to get themselves one of your amazing products – click here, email us today, call, complete an online form, etc.

sem, adwords, this keyword6.  Use keywords

The not-so-secret side of SEO: know what terms your audience type into the search engines when they’re looking for what you sell.

That doesn’t mean taking a wild stab and just assuming your keywords are your product.

It’s not that simple.  Have a play with Google’s keyword tool and you’ll see what I mean.

Imagine you sell engraved name plaques.  You assume ‘personalised gifts’ is a good keyword for your website.  Think again.

According to the Google, there are 135,000 searches for this phrase each month in the UK, and competition for it is high.  However, the phrase ‘gifts ideas’ is searched 823,000 in the same period and competition is less fierce.

Remember to allow for misspellings and typos (as above).

Do this for some of the phrases linked to your product or service, and you may be surprised at the results.

search engine optimisation, writing for the web, how to seo7.  One idea per paragraph

Simple but effective.

You probably know your business inside out – you know the finer detail about your product, how it’s made, why people buy it.

But trying to get all this detail across in one go can be overwhelming for the reader.

After writing any copy that’s going to be on-screen, read it back through and make a note of the main points included in each paragraph.

If you have more than one main message in a paragraph, then see if you can break it up.

It will be easier to absorb for readers, and more likely to get the results you’re after.

However you found your way here today, thank you for stopping by.  If you found any of the the tips shared here useful, please share this article by clicking on the share buttons below – thank you!

What are your pet hates about reading content on the web?  Share in the comments below.

* Don’t worry, I won’t leave my little lad to get cold legs in short trousers – I’ll just pick some up tomorrow when we go into town.

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