A recent survey found out that 79% of internet users only skim through a page, only 16% read it word for word.
So what can you do to make sure that your content gets the attention it deserves?
If you had an answer to that question, you wouldn’t be here. Would you?
So, let’s get straight to the point, what makes website content click? How to write content for the web?
Today, we will take a look at the bigger picture. We will discuss the complete process of content development, from understanding the requirements to delivering the content.
Here it is, the nitty-gritty of content development for the web:
1 Understand the requirement
The first step of content writing is to know what do you need to write in the first place. When you are discussing it with your client, communicate well and clearly.
Ask questions related to various aspects of content like what kind of a tone does you client want, what is the genre of the content you are writing, where will this content be used, who are the target audience and their age range, how long or short do they want the content?
Better yet, prepare a questionnaire. It will keep you from forgetting fundamental questions.
Now, sometimes we can not put the required content in a watertight criteria, in fact, generally the content used on web cuts through domains.
In such cases, listen and listen carefully to the demand being put up to you. Assess your skills with respect to the requirements. T
If you are not entirely confident that you can write the content, this stage is when you pull back. Later, it’ll only tarnish your reputation as a professional.
Before you write anything, it is a good idea to research the topic thoroughly. Now that you understand the requirements already, you would know what you are looking for.
If you are unfamiliar to any aspect of the content you need to write, don’t hesitate in searching for it online.
Wikipedia is a good starting point to understand the concept under consideration. However, it is not a reliable source of information, and hence should not be cited in your article.
After you understand the concept well, try studying from research papers, white papers, reputed blogs, and new websites etc. You should keep the links handy in case you decide to use the content you see during this research.
If you decide to use statistics in your content, prefer only reputed and widely trusted organizations and websites.
3 Build on the Foundation
Once the requirements are clear to you and you have researched well, you should create a skeletal outline of the content you are going to write.
This outline should contain the exact heading you will be using in your content, quotes, statistics or similar data, and each part should have a clearly allocated number of words.
Such an organization will not only help you write but also in keeping the word limit intact.
During this stage, you should research the subject of content in case it is an article, subject-oriented piece, or a discussion piece. You should then arrange the results of your research in an organized and cohesive manner. So that the content itself stays coherent.
In case of other forms of content like a press release, marketing email, or content that has predefined specific facts or values to be taken care of, these values should be placed under the exact sections where they will appear in the final text. This way, the error margin would reduce considerably.
After getting this outline or rough sketch approved by the client, you can go ahead to writing the actual content.
4 Aim for the Bull’s Eye:
This is the heart of the process. Considering you have your structure and reference material ready, good content should come to you itself.
However, there are a few ground rules that you would need to follow:
- As mentioned above, most people only scan. Hence, put the most important information at the beginning of the article.
- When people search, they look at the search results and click on the first thing which is even vaguely similar to their requirement. So, make it a point to use keywords– in the content, in the headings, in the subheadings, in meta-tag, it’s great for your SEO.
- Use small paragraphs. Seriously, three to five lines is a good enough paragraph. The shorter the better really.
- Use shorter sentences. If you can break up a sentence, do it.
- Do not go medieval on your readers, do not use archaic and heavy words. Use care words, words that people generally use, that people find familiar. It’s even better if these words have SEO contributions.
- Please do not write as if people love to read. Not many do. Keep the sentences to the point, precise and streamlined.
- Whenever possible, drop in an infographic. The content should be self-explanatory.
- If you are making a joke, make sure its self-explanatory. Don’t go around dropping jokes that no one gets. It takes away the appeal of the content.
- Unless required otherwise, always use a conversational tone. Talk to your reader, it’s not an article or just words that you are writing, you are talking to the reader. The communication should be clear.
- Do not use informal words unless specifically required.
- Its ‘Dos and Don’ts’. Stop writing ‘Do’s and Dont’s’.
- Sometimes when we write website content, we also use SEO content writing as a tool to rank for Google, but more on that in another post.
We can list up a million rules and then some. The gist here is, create content that interacts, which is easy to read, and is in the language of the masses. (what’s up with these fluffed up blogs anyways!)
5 Cite, not steal:
Finally, do not plagiarize. If you are using content, images, data or anything else from other websites, give them the credit.
Sometimes you might also need permissions to use a certain image, infographic or text. Get permission. Do not violate someone’s copyright.
There are two popular methods of citing, you can provide a link back to the reference content in your content itself. You can do this by adding a backlink to the website in the information use.
You can also put a number in superscript or subscript, much like how Wikipedia added references. This method requires more formatting, hence it is used lesser as compared to the aforementioned.
Last but not the least, if you are editing your work yourself, do not edit it right away. If you do, your editing would be sub-par because you might just skim through instead of reading it carefully.
In nutshell, write content that engages, is easy to scan, and contains keywords that bring more business to the website.