22 Web Content Writing Tips
You don’t need to be a professional to understand what makes for effective web content writing. If you’ve ever used Google to search for something and found a website that was truly helpful, then congrats! You’ve encountered good content writing.
But here’s the thing: if you’re here, it means that you want to produce excellent copy in addition to decent copy.
Excellent content writing has the potential to accomplish far more than simply attracting clicks and keeping visitors on your page. A good piece of copy responds to a query. Their questions are answered with great copy, along with a few they weren’t even aware they had.
In the end, the finest content builds trust with readers instead of merely getting them to click. Having more shares, backlinks, and sales as a result of that trust is inevitable.
Why should business owners become content writers?
In fact, a Salesforce/Pardot analysis indicated that consumers place 3x more importance on a company’s content than on its actual staff. Good content authoring is your best employee. 97% of the same poll participants stated that poor content made them less likely to trust a brand.
Bad content, according to 97% of consumers polled by @Pardot, has harmed their trust in brands. Click to Tweet in #marketing[/raw]
Hours of content research and writing shouldn’t be wasted. You seek ROI. Keep this list of content writing advice bookmarked and accessible for whenever you produce content for the web.
22 Tips for Writing Content
1. For SEO, keyword research should always come first.
2. Keyphrase stuffing is never acceptable.
3. Strive for compelling calls to action
4. Internet vs. Internet, email vs. email, and other style disputes
5. Always include citations in your text
6. Make the reader experience a feeling.
7. Your content writing should maintain action.
8. Chopper it up while writing for the web.
9. Revisit your links
10. Purchase a quality SEO suite.
11. Remember SEO recommended practices
12. From the very first sentence, give your readers a cause to care.
13. Draw an image.
14. Which is correct: “Do’s and Don’t’s” or “Dos and Don’ts”?
15. If you’re unsure, do some research.
16. Your friend is Dictionary.com; therefore, frequent the site.
17. Do not refer to a banana as an extended yellow fruit.
18. Refresh posts to add the most value
19. comparing one website to another
20. lower the reading difficulty.
21. offer extra benefit
22. Never alter your own work (at least, not right away)
1. A good piece of content starts with keyword research
You need to know the subject of your content before you even begin to create it, and if you combine search engine optimization with editorial calendar planning, you may accomplish two goals at once.
You can figure out from keyword research what subjects Google (and your intended audience) considers relevant.
It sheds light on the content strategy of your rivals and draws attention to the advantages and disadvantages of your own. Additionally, it enables you to optimize both individual articles and your overall content strategy to increase traffic.
2. Keyphrase stuffing is never acceptable
Using keywords can help your material become more worthwhile, readable, and searchable. But the opposite happens when you start stuffing in keywords.
A website that is overstuffed with keywords appears shady and unreliable to both Google and human users. Your page views decline along with your conversion rate and SERP positions. Search engines gradually devalue your domain as a result of readers leaving the page rapidly and starting to see it as being of low quality.
These days, search engines are intelligent. Just because searchers use a particular keyword phrase doesn’t mean you have to include it in your content. For Google to comprehend what your page is about, you don’t need to use every potential version of a search word.
3. Strive for compelling calls to action (CTAs)
What action do you want people to take after reading your content? If your sole response is, “Well, read it, I guess,” you should start over. You must decide what your call to action will be before you even begin writing a blog article, and you must make it so compelling that readers will be compelled to click. This is how to link content writing to marketing objectives and demonstrate ROI.
Which CTAs should firms include in their content?
You can use the following calls to action in just about every blog article or landing page:
User action desired: download resource. For additional advice from experts on [subject], download our free guide.
Newsletter subscription is the desired user action. Sign up to receive weekly emails with exclusive resources.
Get a demo is the desired user action. To find out how many hours you may save each day, schedule a free demo of [software/app name].
User action desired: sharing content on social media. Know somebody who could benefit from these advice? Send this article to a colleague by tagging them!
The user’s desired action is to buy something. To save 30% on the purchase of [product or service], click here and enter the promotion code “CONTENT.”
Consider yourself the reader when crafting calls to action: what would it take to persuade you to do something, even something as straightforward as sharing the article with a friend, from a brand you’ve never heard of? Now, relate that to your objectives: how can you create a CTA and content that are tailored to your business’ marketing and sales KPIs and truly convince readers to act?
4. Internet vs. Internet, email vs. email, and other style disputes
To appeal to contemporary readers, web writers must stay up to date on language trends. For instance, until the early 2000s, many businesses would never use the single, gender-neutral pronoun “they.” Now, middle school English instructors are the only language authorities who require you to type out “he or she.”
Similar to how “e-mail” was initially accepted as the correct name by major institutions like the AP and The New York Times, they gradually changed their minds. There are those who still use the lowercase “internet” as a proper noun, but none of them have editorial positions at The Guardian, The Economist, or the BBC.
Whatever your language pet peeves may be, the important thing to remember is that your internet writing is for your readers, not for you.
Play it safe by adhering to the norms of the AP or another reputable style manual, or by developing your own internal style manual that complies with current use guidelines. Be consistent and forward-thinking.
Whatever your linguistic personal peeves are, remember that your online writing is for your audience, not for you. #marketing, advises The Content Factory. Grammatical snobs
5. Always include citations in your text
Make careful to include a link back to the original website whenever you use content from another one. You would want the same courtesy as it is good internet etiquette. Always cite your sources, even if you’re worried that it will drive traffic away from your website. If you’re really worried, you can always choose the “open link in another window” option.
Citations are not only the right thing to do, but they can also assist you in obtaining backlinks.
A reciprocal link or quote will frequently be provided as a thank you by the websites you link to.
For more information on effective linking strategy, see 14 Ways to Get Backlinks.
6. Make the reader experience a feeling
Viral content is the result of many factors. Brand recognition, strategic placement, and good fortune are all important aspects of promotion.
But emotional impact is a trait that almost all popular writing shares.
In a recent article, Hubspot interviewed three different marketing experts on why content goes viral. Although each emphasized different factors, all three emphasized the importance of creating web content that evokes an emotional response in the reader.
We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.
So the next time you’re crafting a piece of ad copy or web writing ask yourself, “What’s good about this story? How can I give this more emotional impact? ” Find it, and you might just have viral website content on your hands.
7. Keep the action in your content writing
Writing for the web should be powerful, direct and punchy. To do that, your sentence structure, word choice and style need to emphasize action.
For example, let’s take the common writing tip, “don’t use the passive voice.”
The passive voice happens when you switch the subject and object in a sentence. Instead of “the lion attacked the village” you have “the village was attacked by a lion.”
Notice how the second sentence is somehow less exciting (even though it contains a killer lion?) That;s because the active voice emphasizes the action with “the lion attacked.” In the passive voice, the village is the subject. The agent (the lion that performed the action) is only mentioned afterwards using the prepositional phrase “by the lion.” It’s almost an afterthought.
Close up of an essay being edited with red pen
As a web content writer, you should also use unique and exciting verbs to impact the reader. Try swapping out “sales climbed” for “sales rocketed.” Instead of “we cut costs” try “we slashed costs.”
Finally, remember to vary your sentence style.
Try using short simple sentences get attention, then longer more complex ones to flesh out ideas. Use interesting verbs to highlight important actions, then more conventional ones for variety. Even passive voice has a place sometimes — for example, to share background information or highlight whom a particular action affected.
These small changes won’t add to your word count, but they will make your content writing more exciting and engaging.
“Content #writing PSA: ditch the passive voice. ‘The passive voice should be ditched by #marketers’ sounds terrible.” – The Content Factory
8. When writing for the web, chop it up
If you’re writing the next Great American Novel, it’s okay to end paragraphs when pauses seem natural. Writing for the web, however, is a whole different world. Attention spans online are a LOT shorter than they are in Oprah’s Book Club, and your paragraphs need to reflect that.
Put simply: keep it short! A five-line paragraph is great, but a three-line paragraph is even better. Content kings like Derek Halpern even let single sentences fly solo.
Don’t worry if an idea doesn’t seem to be fully “complete” before hitting that enter key. Err on the side of short paragraphs and chop it up!
Most website content writers know the importance of internal links. Linking to other pages on your site boosts SEO, gives readers useful info, and increases page views and time on site. However, it’s not enough.
You need to revisit older posts and pages to update them with new links. This boosts your search results, makes your pages more useful and relevant to users and helps your content stays fresh.
It’s just one part of revamping older, evergreen content to improve SEO. (More on that later!)
10. Invest in a good SEO suite
You can do SEO keyword analysis with nothing but a Google spreadsheet and some free tools,but there’s a lot of data to crunch. And digging through all the keywords and traffic data makes it easy to get lost in the analytics.
Not all SEO suites solve the problem. Some bombard you with too much data, without providing the tools you need to sort through it and tweak your content strategy. Other SEO tools break everything down into their own proprietary system, without giving you the enough data to draw your own conclusions. And when they get it wrong, you’ll have no way of knowing until your traffic starts to crash.
All of the important analytics are displayed in front of you: what keywords you’re ranking for, how many backlinks you have, what your competition looks like, and the total ad value of your keywords.Even if you’re new to SEO content writing, it’s quick and easy to learn.
Whether you’re trying to build out a new blog for your brand, audit your whole site, or zero in on your competitors strategy, it’s an invaluable tool.
11. Don’t forget SEO best practices
Repeating your targeted keywords a couple times isn’t enough — you need to use your keyword (and related phrases) anywhere it fits: in the url, H2 headers, meta description and even in the alt tags of your images.
If you’re using WordPress, LocalPower SEO can help you nail the SEO.
Not only does LocalPowe SEO nail big problems like missing keywords in the meta description, it can also help you zoom in on granular issues like low keyword density to give your site an extra SEO boost:
12. Give your readers a reason to care from the first sentence
Good intros are hard. It can feel unnatural to skip right to the point. You want to provide some background, warm the reader up and then work your way to the main topic when you feel ready.
But by that point, your reader is long gone.
Your website isn’t literature. Site visitors aren’t there for your nuanced language or slow, measured flow. They’re there to get information or solve a problem (ideally by buying your product or service.)
“Content writing tip: your website isn’t literature. Your readers are there to solve a problem, not gush about rhetorical devices. #marketing” – The Content Factory
And if you don’t give them a reason to care about your article, they’re going to get that information or solve that problem somewhere else.
Our intro is a good example. The first sentence is “your website represents your company.” In five words, we’ve told you why this article is important. The rest of the intro expands that, talking about how website content writing can help (or hurt) your company.
Finally, we remind you why you need us: you don’t want to waste time — “you want ROI.” So bookmark this article and reference it when you write.
Every piece of content you write should tell your readers why they should invest their time in hearing what you have to say. How will what you’re teaching them help them? What goal will they accomplish with your help? Why should they care?
13. Paint a picture
Give this paragraph a read:
“Is it just us, or do some people talk about gay dating like it’s an elaborate magic trick? Even unexperienced gay or queer persons may approach the idea of dating with the kind of abject fear one feels when opening the instructions for a new piece of IKEA furniture. ‘Am I doing this right? ’ they may ask themselves, months, years and even decades into their dating careers.”
That’s the opening paragraph for blog post we wrote for our personal product client titled 8 Ways Gay Dating Is Just Like Straight Dating and it’s the perfect example to illustrate our point (pun intended).
That point is this — creating content writing is a lot different than writing a 7th grade book report.
Your audience isn’t an overworked and underpaid teacher with no choice but to read your reworded Cliffs Notes on Lord of the Flies. Your audience is choosing to read your content (or to head elsewhere on the web). Imagery is a great way to capture their attention.
Don’t think for a second that a boring or technical topic gets you off the hook either — IKEA assembly instructions have nothing to do with gay dating (usually) but we used a visual to help the reader make the connection. Push yourself to add a little creative fiction to your website content writing and see how much more fun it is to read (and write!)
Wack Shakespeare: “Hey Juliet, you’re pretty.” Rad Shakespeare: “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?”
14. “Do’s and Don’t’s” vs. “Dos and Don’ts” — which is correct?
The latter! Nothing drives us crazier than people putting apostrophes in pluralized words.
When in doubt about spelling, capitalization or grammar, Google it! Which brings us to…
15. If you’re not sure, look it up
There’s never been a better time to learn as you go. Double checking the words/grammar/spelling/etc. you don’t know about can help you catch mistakes and internalize the rules, so you can write correctly without looking it up next time.
If the finer points of grammar elude you, you can always download the Grammarly browser extension to catch issues in real time.
Don’t stop with language mechanics, either. Look up content marketing strategy, read industry blogs, study successful online social media marketing campaigns. The more time you spent thinking and picking up new information, the better you’ll get.
Soon, you’ll be writing your own blog posts about web content writing tips!
16. Dictionary.com is your friend — so visit the site often
You’d be amazed at how many words people misuse on a regular basis. For instance, peruse probably doesn’t mean what you think it does (in fact, it’s probably the opposite). Never use words unless you’re absolutely certain of their meaning.
Bonus: follow Merriam-Webster on Twitter to level up your vocab and get the linguistic side of news.
Following a dictionary on Twitter might not seem all that exciting, but trust us: it’s a quality follow.
17. Do not refer to a banana as an extended yellow fruit
Don’t use a $3 word when a 10 cent word will suffice, unless you’re going for the “most pretentious web content writer” award.
Overuse of meaningless buzzwords is a good way to show that you have an MBA, but a bad way to keep the interest of your readers (and it actually makes you look bad).
At the same time, you’ve got to write for your audience.
Industry terminology is often important for SEO, and in some cases it can make your content clearer and more authoritative for your audience.
So how can you tell when to use jargon? Look at it from your audience’s perspective. If you were the reader, would a certain technical term make your web writing more readable, or less? Would it clarify the article or read as meaningless ornamentation? Would plain language work just as well or better?
18. Revamp posts for maximum value
Good web content gains value over time. Social media accounts share it, blogs link to it, and Google boosts its ranking as the traffic comes in. At the same time, that content also ages. Information goes out of date, the market changes and user interests change.
That means there is no such thing as a “set it and forget it” content strategy (well, not if you’re good at what you do).
To get the most value out of your content, you need to watch how it performs, prioritize the blogs that do well, and revamp them to bring in new visitors.
In addition to constantly analyzing social shares, pingbacks and web traffic, you should monitor your web shares for the keywords it’s currently ranking for.
Often, you’ll get great results with the longer, more informative piece, but a shorter piece of content might surprise you and go viral, and start ranking for keywords you weren’t even targeting!
Revamp your most valuable posts with added content, updated info and a strengthened keyword strategy and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your page climbs in the search engine rankings.
Not sure where to start? Check out our complete step by step guide to revamping your old blog posts.
19. Web site vs. website vs. web site
Which one is it? For the love of all things awesome, it’s website (at least, so says the AP Stylebook which is sort of like a web content writer’s bible). Not Web site, not web site — and not any other variation you can think of.
Although “Web site” was once acceptable, it’s sort of like referring to your Blackberry as a “cellular phone” — it makes you look just as out of touch with technology.
20. Keep the reading level low
In general, the easier your article is to read, the better. Sophisticated content doesn’t Do you know the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease score for your piece of content? There are plenty of free tools to help you find it. These tools crawl through your content, analyze your vocabulary level, and rate your readability by grade level.
Unless your topic is extremely niche and technical, you should aim for a middle school reading level or lower.
If your score is too high, it doesn’t mean you need to dumb things down for your readers — it just means you might need to make simpler word choices or cut down your complex sentences. This ensures that visitors of varying education levels can get value from your content, and that readers who may speak English as a second language will understand it too. It also just helps keep your tone clear and relatable which should always be a goal when you’re creating web content.
21. Provide added value
Your content writing should always offer value to the reader in terms of insightful ideas and actionable tips. But if you really want your content to earn repeat traffic and rise in search engine rankings, give your readers a parting gift.
It doesn’t have to cost you anything. It can be a link to a free webinar (like our webinar on earning free media coverage), a Google Drive Template, or even a worksheet. Give your readers a valuable takeaway and they won’t just view your site as a great resource — they’ll refer their friends too!
22. Never self edit your work (at least, not right away)
Ideally, you’ll have somebody to edit your writing. If you’re responsible for writing and editing your web content, don’t do both in the same day. When the writing is still fresh, your mind will automatically make up the gaps in your copy and your editing will be subpar. Instead, put it away and come back to it another day — or at least several hours later.
That’s only if you, for whatever reason, don’t have another person to edit your work. Even with a great spell check, there will be things you miss. Make sure there’s somebody in your organization with great writing and editing chops who can give your work a second set of eyes. Remember that behind every good writer — whether it’s a best-selling author, a Washington Post journalist or a copywriter for a viral marketing campaign — is a great editor.