Writing for the web is a notably different skill to writing for print publications. It’s often a technique that is overlooked, but as your website becomes increasingly important as a business tool, it’s something that you should address if you’re keen to maintain a strong online presence and make certain you’re talking to the right audience.
To begin with you must make sure that your website is tailored to that proverbial ‘perfect potential client’ – and then that the content is correctly organised for ease of reading. Web users are spending significantly less time searching for, and viewing your website these days. It’s becoming increasingly important that you keep content easy to find, that you cover your calls to action in a clear yet striking way, and that your expertise is clear to see from just a glance at one or two pages. Knowing who you are writing for is crucial. A buyer would want short snappy copy highlighting product features and benefits, whereas an engineer may want more lengthy, detailed information and might expect to see an insightful, regularly updated blog.
Once you’ve reviewed your navigation and overall targeting, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
Top tips for writing website content
- Only make one point per paragraph, and keep text as short as possible
Use paragraphs and line breaks to set out your content in a clear, accessible way. Long paragraphs containing lots of long sentences are overwhelming on a web page – most people won’t read this and you’ve missed the opportunity to communicate the key points in there to your audience.
- Use headings and sub headings
Breaking up the content on each page under suitable headers makes it easier to ‘speed read’ and for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Most visitors will only ‘speed read’ the homepage of your website in particular, but headings give a good indication of what key points the page covers, even if they only glance at it. This is really important for search optimisation too. Search engine robots read the headings to understand what a page is about, therefore the headings and sub headings should be descriptive, not too long but most importantly contain keywords.
For example, if you are trying to optimize your page for the search terms ‘domestic rainwater harvesting tank’ or ‘easy to install domestic rainwater tanks’ then your rainwater harvesting product page may be set out like this:
- Heading: 5500L rainwater harvesting tank
- Subheading: Ideal for domestic applications
- Subheading: Easy installation and maintenance
- Always write in complete, grammatically correct sentences
Just because you’re trying to keep your word count to a minimum doesn’t mean you should scrimp on grammatical rules or use abbreviations.
- Keep colloquialisms and informal language to a minimum, or ideally avoid where possible
Using relaxed language on a B2B website doesn’t always sit well alongside a corporate reputation, and needs to be done very carefully if it is something you’re keen on. You don’t want to alienate any part of your audience by using language they can’t relate to. It’s important to be aware of how this reflects on your brand and company attitudes and be mindful of making that all important good first impression.
- Use bullet points or lists where this will help set out content more clearly
Bullets or lists are a great way to set out your content in an easy to read format, this way you can communicate more points to your web visitors in a shorter period of time.
- Make sure you refer to your brand and branded products consistently
A personal bug of mine – it’s so important to maintain your corporate identity throughout your web content. If your product brand names are always written with capital letters (or not) make sure you stick with this all the way through. Inconsistent branding through a website just looks sloppy and sends a clear message to potential customers about the quality of your output.
- Make sure when referring to third party brands or companies, that names are written in the correct style to conform with their branding
There is nothing worse than upsetting your previous clients by adding a case study about your work together which clearly isn’t in line with their corporate identity. You want your potential customers to see how much you care about your client base – attention to detail is absolutely essential when communicating this.
- Finally, spellcheck and grammar check each section carefully
Aside from potentially damaging your attempts at SEO, yes… I’m going to make yet another point about attention to detail! A website filled with typos and spelling errors doesn’t scream professional, trustworthy – and nor is it easy to read.
Getting the balance between writing efficiently for your web visitors, and satisfying the search engines is a tricky one. Try to keep in mind that you’re writing for two ‘audiences’ and be as accurate and succinct as possible. Always ask for a fresh pair of eyes to check over your copy before you upload it too – sometimes it’s difficult to spot gaps in explanations or typos and you tend to end up reading what you ‘think’ you’ve written rather than the actual words. Schedule in some time to rejuvenate your website copy every couple of months so that you can keep your key messages up to date and ensure you are using the right keywords to get your website found by architects and specifiers who are searching for product specification information online.