Website content is the key factor in building trust with customers. How you represent the company, the product or service, and how customers are valued can all be portrayed through website content. When content is engaging and informative, website visitors continue to explore the website and increase the odds of becoming a customer.
As a digital agency professional, it’s your job to ensure your clients are well represented through their content. But sometimes clients aren’t always the best at writing. So, it may be your task to help guide them in the right direction.
The question is, what exactly does effective content look like? And how can you maintain the customer’s interest? We’re here to help! The following information will discuss:
- What website content is
- Why it’s important
- How you can write effective content for your (or your client’s) website
- How long does it take to write
What is website content?
In simple terms, website content can refer to any “textual, aural, or visual content published on a website.” This includes virtually any creative element, such as text, images, audio and video files, applications, and so forth. For example, the content for a blog post may encompass written text, a series of images that go with the text, and an embedded video file that further expands upon the blog’s topic.
Why is website content important?
Content is the driving force behind increased traffic to your website, and ultimately higher conversion rates. In fact, research indicates that year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is almost 8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs. 2.5%). On the other hand, 88% of Internet users will not return to a website following a negative experience, which often involves poorly-written, low-quality content.
It’s important to remember that successful website content is really designed for two distinct audiences:
- The company’s consumer base. If your content is informative, helpful, and engaging, then your human users will have a good reason to keep coming back for more. Clearly, this kind of content holds a clear advantage over web pages that contain lifeless, useless information. Over time, your website content can enhance your brand reputation, and even help you win referrals from satisfied consumers.
- Online search engines. Your website content also needs to be written in such a way that search engines like Google can accurately index your site, and match your content to appropriate search queries. As a simple example, if you write a blog post about “How to Choose a Good Printer,” but use the keyword “copier” more frequently than “printer” throughout the article, then Google may classify your post as a good match for users who want information on copy machines rather than printers.
How to write effective website content for yourself, or your client?
No two businesses are exactly alike, which means there’s no one approach to writing website content that’s automatically better than others. That being said, there are certain guidelines and best practices you should keep in mind when writing content. These include the following:
1. Know Your Audience
No matter who you’re creating a site for, your content is ultimately designed for your client’s target audience. Even if your client is giving the final approval, your writing needs to keep the end user at the top of mind.
Creating client personas is one of the best ways to get clear about who your audience is. Before you start writing or revamping your content, work with your clients to build at least 2-3 ideal customer profiles.
Pro tip: Give each ideal customer a name and a face, so you can imagine yourself communicating to real people through your words.
Each of your client personas should also include:
- Key demographic details (age, gender, education level, etc.)
- Pain points
As you’re writing, speak directly to the unique needs and values of your audience. Ask yourself, “How can I cater my message to these specific buyers?”
2. Stay True to Your Brand Persona
Much like real people, all great brands have unique personalities. Your brand persona, which is the personality and characteristics associated with your brand, should stand out and stay consistent throughout your content writing. For example, Wendy’s is well known for its sassy and lively persona, whereas Nike is more inspirational and cool.
Your brand persona is how you help an audience connect with an overall brand — not just the words on a single landing page. And since it’ll prevent you from speaking like a robot, it keeps your writing memorable, too.
Work with your team or your client to define:
- Tone of voice: Are they more authoritative or casual? Encouraging or neutral?
- Clear grammar rules: Do you use AP style or Chicago style capitalization? Do you end headers with periods? Are emojis ever used?
- Company values: What values should you make clear in your content writing?
Bonus Tip: Share Brand Guidelines With Your Entire Web Team
Brand guidelines aren’t just helpful for writing website copy or blogs. A brand’s personality can help designers choose the right shapes and hues, or help animators choose between sleek or playful movement. Each team member should understand exactly what they need to achieve.
3. Include a clear call to action (CTA)
Unless you’re writing a purely informative article, you need to present your readers with a clear CTA so that they’ll know what step to take next. Your CTA should be direct, use strong, action-oriented words (verbs), and align with your specific goals for the content. For example, simple CTAs like “Contact Us Today” or “Sign Up For Your Free Trial” can be very effective in moving prospects down the sales funnel.
On the technical side of things, design a clear, conspicuous, clickable CTA button for your web page. There’s a reason why so many companies use bright CTA buttons for their landing pages: they convert at a much higher rate than plain text CTAs. A study from one company found that adding a CTA button to their article templates increased conversions by 83%, and boosted online sales by 22%.
4. Leave out the jargon
Unless you’re targeting a niche demographic with a lot of technical knowledge, it’s important to make your writing as clear and easy to understand as possible. Jargon-filled articles will only frustrate and alienate your consumers. No one will read your content; and what’s worse, no one will share your content with others.
In the end, clear, engaging writing always beats dense, hard-to-read writing. It’s that simple.
5. Support Claims With Facts
Thanks to the internet, most people are smart shoppers these days. According to Google, 53% of consumers always research before making purchases. Great data is compelling and persuasive.
As you’re gathering content for your website, pinpoint statements that could be strengthened by research-backed facts.
You may have learned about the three persuasive techniques as far back as grade school. Ethos (credibility) and pathos (emotions) can get a strong message across. But to complete the triad, you need logos — logic and proof.
When you insert facts into your content writing, make sure to link to your sources. This can ramp up your ethos, too.
Bonus Tip: Opt for .gov or .edu Sources Whenever Possible
Sprinkling some external links throughout your website can be a great way to boost your search engine ranking. As an SEO best practice, opt for the most trustworthy sources.
Official government and educational resources are ideal for backing up facts. Legitimate nonprofits (.org) and trusted publications also make for great external links. If linking to a brand website or research organization, opt for non-promotional options.
6. Use Relevant Keywords
Search engines want to provide the most relevant content possible for their users. To do so, they scan websites for indicators of relevance, including keywords.
Keywords, like trusted links, can help your site rank higher on search engines results pages — and more importantly, for the right users.
So how do you figure out what keywords to use? You can use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Moz Keyword Explorer to find out what people are searching. If you’re working on an existing site, Google Analytics can show you how shoppers found you in the past.
Once you know the keywords you want to target, find places to naturally weave those keywords into your content writing.
Pro tip: Keywords added to meta tags, image alt text, and more also help you improve your SEO.
As you’re inserting keywords throughout your site, make sure you avoid keyword stuffing. If you’re overloading your content with keywords (not naturally), search engines will penalize you for spam.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Miss Out on Long-Tail Keywords
Getting on the first page of Google for short keywords like “content writing” or “content” is always ideal. But the truth is, it’s not likely — especially for small businesses. There’s a lot of competition for the search terms that get the most traffic.
On the flip side, long-tail keywords like “how to write content” have far less competition. Though search traffic is lower, you can rank higher and keep your position for longer without much maintenance. You’ll gain a greater percentage of clicks for those specific searches.
Using a blend of short and long-tail keywords can help you get the benefits of both.
7. Use a convenient, easy-to-navigate layout
In some cases, a website’s content may be “practically perfect in every way.” It may be well-written, informative, engaging, and helpful to readers.
However, if the website’s layout is hard to navigate, or its formatting looks unprofessional, then many users will no doubt go elsewhere. In fact, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if it has unattractive content or a poor layout, according to one study.
What can you do to avoid this pitfall? Of course, on the technical end you need to make sure that your website is easy to navigate. For example, make sparing use of nested content; dropdown menus within other dropdown menus won’t make any of your users happy.
In terms of writing, you’ll need to format your text so that it’s “skimmable,” or “scannable.” In other words, readers should be able to easily “skim over” your web page and find the information they’re looking for. This means you should avoid long paragraphs and blocks of text, and break up your content into easy-to-follow headings and subheadings. Don’t shy away from using bullet points, either.
8. Include appropriate and engaging visuals
Finally, remember that images and videos are part of your website content. With that in mind, be sure to incorporate on-brand visuals into your page layout.
Such visuals can generate a powerful impact on your consumers. One study found that Internet users spend an average of almost six seconds looking at a website’s main image. Six seconds may not seem like a long time, but in the world of digital marketing, that’s virtually an eternity!
The point is, the visuals you use can leave a lasting impression on a customer, and reinforce your brand image in positive ways. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” You just need to make sure that your visuals are conveying the right thousand words to your viewers.
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How long does it take to write website content?
As you can tell from our discussion above, a lot of thought and effort goes into the development of effective website content. Perhaps you may wonder how much time goes into this process. As with many things in life, the answer is: It depends. Here are some key factors that play a role in how long it may take to get a piece of content published on your website:
- The amount of research required. Many content writers will tell you that it takes them longer to conduct research for an article than it does to actually write it. If you plan to write high-level content that doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge, then the research phase may be quite short. On the other hand, it could take hours or even days to research a detailed technical article.
- The editing process. If you’re writing content for yourself, then you obviously don’t need anyone’s approval to publish it on your website. However, if you’re writing for a client you’ll likely need to get their feedback on your first draft, and make a number of edits before the final version is ready. Moreover, if you’re working as part of an agency team, you may also need to have your work checked by one or more senior editors before sending it on to the client. In short, the editing process could take quite a bit of time, depending on how many people are involved.
How can you write exceptional content for a client?
The short answer to this question is that you have to know exactly what the client wants. Clear communication is absolutely vital in this regard. If you think that your client requested a basic blog post for a topic, but they’re actually expecting an in-depth white paper, both of you are going to experience increased stress and frustration.
This is where SimpleStage can be an invaluable resource. Our collaboration platform can help facilitate communication with your clients, and get their feedback quickly and conveniently. In the end, you’ll be able to tailor your services to each customer’s specific needs and preferences. Reach out to us today to learn more.