I’ve been writing content for the Web for nearly two decades. A lot of my content for clients still appears within the first page of Google and other search engines for their notable keywords, so I know that this content has stood the test of time. Throughout the years I have shared little tips on who to write for the Web and while I like to write, I can’t say that I’m the “best” writer out there or that I’m ever going to win a Pulitzer, the content that I prepare is always written with the reader in mind, but also optimized for findability and for Search.
So I’d like to share another one of my retro posts from 2007 where I shared 37 tips to keep in mind when writing content for the Web.
37 Tips for Writing Web Content
Remember this was originally published in 2007, but a lot of these tips still apply in 2018.
In the search engine industry, one phrase that we have all heard time and time again is that Content is King! If you want to rank well in the search engines you have to create content… content should be informative and useful etc etc. Yet I often come across websites and blogs that do a terrible job with their content development.
I understand that blogs originally started out as basically personal online diaries, and that many blogs consist of slang and industry related jargon. However when I come across a blog that is supposed to be a professional resource, I expect the content to be well written and useful and updated regularly. It doesn’t matter what type of site that you have, it doesn’t matter if your site is B2C or B2B, writing effective web content is not something you just do and push out into the online universe. Content development should be well thought out with consideration of who the intended audience is. With that in mind, here are 37 things to keep in mind when writing web content.
1. Keep it Simple – don’t try to impress with 5 syllable words
2. Make use of bullets and subtitles
3. Don’t be Wordy – don’t get fancy, or use wordy intros. This can be an indicator that you have no idea of what you’re talking about.
4. People like lists
5. White space is cool.
6. Be coherent – keep it tight and together.
7. Copy of about 400-600 words is ideal for SEO and the long tail of search. Of course longer content has proven to rank well in Google. There truly is no magical formula for length of copy. Sometimes less is more!
8. Take a stand – don’t sit on the fence
9. Title – Subject – Support – your subject and support material should tie into closely with your title. In 2018, we still need to work on building semantic relevant themes and topics.
10. Titles should be catchy and informative – clickable, and clear.
11. Do not use misleading titles – linkbait or not, don’t lie or mislead your audience
12. Lead in sentences (first sentence or paragraph) should get to the point. Tell the reader what the article is about first thing.
13. More stuff less fluff – Information is better than fluff every time.
14. Make your content somewhat unique – establish a unique perception towards the topic that you are creating content on.
15. Sans serif fonts are easier and faster to read on computer screens.
16. Link to related resources
17. Regularly update your content
18. Don’t write content for the sake of writing content
19. Content should be easy to print.
20. Plagiarism is not cool
21. Avoid the sales pitch with informative content
22. Know who your audience is
23. Write content that your readers will understand not content that is full of industry jargon
24. Pictures should be specific and informative, not generic or ad-like
25. Photos should be relevant to content.
26. People in pictures should look friendly and down-to-earth.
27. Images should be sized properly.
28. Always check your spelling.
29. See point # 5
30. Grammar IS important. Unless you do not want your site considered as being professional. Of course this depends on the type of messaging and overall tone of your site.
31. Online press releases should be even tighter and more professional than Web copy.
32. Each page of web content should focus on a single topic (don’t try to over optimize)
33. Like a good songwriter, create content that will stand the test of time. A good song is a good song. A good web page of content should remain a good page of content.
34. Don’t place blatant, irrelevant advertising in the middle of your content (unless you want the reader to never return to your site)
35. Avoid ambiguity (leave that for the government and lawyers)
36. Be careful with using humor – some people are easily offended
37. Make your content informative