Website content works different from print media. The fact is, most people find the overload of information on the internet overwhelming. As soon as you pop open your browser, your reading behaviour changes almost immediately.
Most visitors on your site will speed-read or scan the page (e.g. glancing). They won’t actually read every word, due to their limited attention span. This means they scan your page up and down for relevant keywords or phrases.
Here are some ideas on how to approach this behaviour change, as you write your website content.
Divide the content into a hierarchy of importance levels. Each content section is a talking point which becomes a heading. Avoid long headings.
Readers spot headings much faster than body text. Write the most important heading at the top of the page and continue to elaborate. Remember to keep things short, to combat reader fatigue, or worse have them click away (bounce rate).
Add a summary at the top, middle or bottom to guide readers toward the main talking points.
Visitors expect you to write to them directly, so address them as “you”. Keep sentences in the present tense if possible. Use active voice, e.g. “Caroline mailed the letter.” – instead of passive voice, e.g. “The letter was mailed by Caroline.”
When you write, hold the emotion you’d like to convey. This keeps the story human, relatable and makes the reader want to care. We share stories virally when we want others to also experience the same emotion.
We prefer reading content that invites us to be happy, adds energy or creates a desired state. Facebook confirmed that stories and emotions are linked, when they recently added emotions to their LIKE button.
You can use additional visual elements to spice up the content. Use larger images to break up sections for easier page scanning. Add in sidebar images (left/right align) when needed.
Play around with text features like italics, bold,
strikeout and highlight. You can even use a full-width (see below), sidebar highlight or block quotes box to breakout a short extract or summary. Also, use design elements like cool dividers – just like on this page.
Use a block quote area to add fun best quotes from the long form text. Easy to spot, easy to read.
Remember to add in some white space, it allows the page to breathe.
Lists are another great way to not only break up content, but to engage your visitors (see “Speed Readers” section above). Create lists of benefits, top tips, check lists, action items, etc.. You can even provide information on books, courses, events, conferences or add a takeaway like a recipe, formula or infographic.
If you self-edit, write the content on one day and then edit on another day. Otherwise, get someone else to edit the content for you (another pair of eyes). Check your spelling and grammar – dictionary.com is your friend.
You can always hire a content writer professional to help you out.
Save your stuffing for the holidays – keyword stuffing isn’t a good idea anymore. Instead, put important keywords in your Headings (H1,H2,H3) and page URL (permalink). Always write a custom Meta Description.
You can add a basic SEO Plugin to WordPress to add SEO Title & Description fields and show analysis of the content. Here is an example of an SEO Plugin’s Content Analysis of a page.
Always hyperlink the sources you reference in your story. Don’t steal stuff, even images, unless you have permission to do so. Cross-link other pages to this page and/or keywords or topics.
Unlike print, the web is alive, so go back to older posts, and rework them. Update the content with more current info, add trending story links and press announcements. Link newer or updated stories to older stories, so visitors know which is the most current and most recent.