Creating great web content can be intimidating at first, considering the amount of content flooding the internet. Navigating these spaces can often feel like navigating the wild west, where lawlessness runs rampant, but creating web content does not have to be that way.
Effective web content can utilize the internet’s limitations – overcrowding and short attention spans – to establish lasting emotional connections with its audience, resulting in desired returns. Below is a list of tips and tricks that can help you along the way.
1. Don’t shy away from keyword research
Like the tree that fell in the woods, if web content isn’t seen, did it ever really exist at all? While the philosophical questions are for another day, the point is: web content needs to appear on your audience’s radar; otherwise, who is it for?
A keyword could be a single word or a phrase used in your web content to signal to search engines the intent of your content. It is how Google will know to suggest your page in response to a relevant search query.
However, keywords do more than that. Search Engine Journal writes that keywords clue us in on what people are looking for and indicate where marketers should direct their content. This is why keyword research is so important to web content generation. They help steer the ship.
Keyword research begins with gathering “seed keywords” – general keywords related to your brand, business, or website – based on what you understand about your target audience. You can also use a keyword ranking tool to see what drives traffic to your site.
Use this information to generate related keywords or phrases, synonyms, and modifiers. There are SEO keyword tools available to help gather the data. Incorporating keywords in the body and H2s will help drive traffic to your web content, but beware of over-stuffing. Too many keywords become obvious to readers and can lead to distrust.
2. White space is web content’s best friend
With a limitless wealth of information a few keyboard strokes away, more elements compete for your attention on the web than in print. A 2011 Nielson Norman Group study found that, on average, users will spend 10 to 20 seconds on a page before they decide to leave. It should be your goal to convince them to stay.
You can do that by optimizing the page’s white space. Keep paragraphs around 3 to 5 sentences, and don’t be afraid of jumping into another paragraph before you finish your point. You’re writing web content, not a dissertation or the next great literary masterpiece.
Web content should be scannable for the average reader. While you may have some wiggle room based on your desired demographic, the majority of readers will scan the page, according to a recent Nielson Norman Group study.
Make scanning easier by writing short paragraphs broken up by H2 headers to give your web content an airy, easy-to-read flow. It will take less than 10 seconds for your audience to click away if they see large blocks of text.
3. Don’t forget calls to action
A call to action (CTA) is the ultimate goal of your web content. Are you looking to increase newsletter sign-ups? Are you hoping for the content to be shared on social media? Whatever your goal is, including clear calls to action in your web content will drive you closer to your goal.
When writing effective calls to action, make sure your diction is deliberate. Use clear, commanding words to ensure your call to action is not up for interpretation. Wordstream suggests maintaining a sense of enthusiasm in your word choice or punctuation when writing calls to action. After all, excitement is infectious can be a useful tool.
Don’t forget to include why your audience should accept your call to action. Will they receive a discount? Will they receive valuable information? Keep your calls to action simple, clear and compelling. They are often the reason why the web content exists in the first place.
4. Web content tells a story
For centuries, stories have been utilized to teach lessons, to entertain, and to bring us closer. Told visually, audibly, or through the written word, stories are malleable and can elevate your web content to a more relatable and shareable status if leveraged correctly.
Telling a story through your web content does not necessarily mean story time, but instead incorporating an overarching narrative the same way brands do. Stories build emotional connections that motivate people to share – and even revisit – content. They can be told through text, video, audio, pictures and infographics.
Create a persona based on your demographic. Consider who they are, what they are looking for and how they would stumble upon your content. Let this persona inform your color choices, diction, images and how they are all pieced together.
5. Lastly, keep your content up to date
Dated information is like the kiss of death to web content. Nothing will cause a reader to click away from your content faster than out-of-date information. This means that you should revisit web content periodically to maintain its relevance, especially with evergreen content.
Don’t let the name fool you. Evergreen means that the content is still relevant, not necessarily accurate. Web content requires general maintenance over time. Double-check that the hyperlinks still work and the information is still accurate and has not since been disproven or reexamined.
You can use this opportunity to link to other relevant materials you have created since posting, as well. This can drive more traffic throughout your site.
The internet is constantly evolving. Stay up to date on writing trends and styles. Pay close attention to how your content tracts and expand upon what seems to work. Creating web content is often a game of trial and error, but with practice, you will hone your skills and create content that generates the returns you are looking for.