Writing SEO Web Content in 4 Simple Steps
There are two ways to look at website content. From the perspective of the small business owner, web content is a form of advertising, which is why every article should be an extension of the brand and its philosophy. From the perspective of the reader, web content is educational, entertaining, or both. Every article should be informative and well-written. They should also be easy to find and to navigate. Content writers must keep both these viewpoints in mind. Content is king, but only if the kingmakers do their job.
1. Write original content
Any serious article demands research and it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to pre-existing sources. Depending on the subject, it may even be required. It’s also a good idea to find inspiration from similar businesses. See how they present their content, how they relate to their audiences. What lessons can you take away? How can you improve on them?
None of these things get in the way of producing original material—provided you take the time to present things in your own words. That way the content will reflect your values and opinions. As long as you don’t distort the facts or take credit for someone else’s work, you’re free to put your own spin on the subject matter. If you can add your own personal experiences and expert knowledge, all the better.
2. Use clear language
Writing for the web means writing for the world. Your articles shouldn’t be just for the native crowd—there’s also the international audience to think about. When we all speak different flavours of English it’s important not to add too much local spice. That means no slang, no idioms, and as little jargon as possible. Slang goes out of fashion quickly and idioms are tired and overused. Jargon has its uses, but make sure the reader can infer the meaning from context.
Use simple language. Try to write like you talk, only more clearly. You’re not lecturing your audience, you’re having a conversation with them. As if you and they were in the same room, and you were gently steering them toward your product or service. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be persuaded by someone who didn’t speak your language?
3. Keep it short
Patience is not a virtue found online. Reading from a screen is usually more work than reading from a printed page, so web surfers usually scan rather than read. They pick out the important-looking bits and move on. Lists, subheadings, and highlighted text are good ideas. So is breaking up the material into short paragraphs. Nobody wants to read through a wall of text when better stuff is a click away. Your content should be organised and easy to skim.
Keep people interested by giving them content in short, controlled bursts. This is so they can digest the information with less effort. Aim for brevity in everything you write: a headline followed by a quick overview followed by scannable subheadings for each main idea. Use simple words, shorten your sentences, and stick to one idea per paragraph. Employ bulleted lists when you can, but don’t fill your article with a confusion of lists and passages.
4. Take a break
Great web content takes time. Time to research, time to write, and time to refine. You can’t do all that in one sitting. If you encounter writer’s block take a few minutes to step away, stretch, maybe get a drink of water. A different task or a change of scene could help. Getting up from your desk can be just the thing to knock you out of your slump and there’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep when it comes to editing your own work.
Go to bed with your first draft. In the morning you can look at it with new eyes. You’ll be refreshed and ready to make some hard decisions. Proof your work. Revise it. Polish it till it squeaks. Go over the spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. It’s a good idea to let someone else look at it—professional help can make a huge difference.