Content is not the gray wordy stuff that gets poured into your page designs.
From “Web Style Guide” by Patrick J Lynch and sarah Horton p. 101.
The content of your website is the most important aspect to consider when planning the site. Good web content will encourage people to view and stay longer on your site. It will also improve your search engine rankings.
Web site content consists of:
- Graphs and Charts.
Write your web copy to please your visitors not to boost your own ego or to try to boost your search engine rankings. Give your visitors the information they are likely to be looking for. Your content needs to be relevant to your business goals at an appropriate level of readability and useful to your visitors. You can start with the 5 Ws:
- Who you are.
- What you sell, supply.
- When you are open, available.
- Where you are (physical location).
- Why should people do business with you?
Providing additional information will also encourage visitors to your site. For example if you sell cameras you could include articles about various cameras you sell or information about photography. Choose good keywords and use them throughout the page to increase your Search Engine Rankings but make sure your page makes sense.
- A word or phrase that describes the content of a web page and is useful for search engines to list pages with appropriate search results.
Where can you get information for your web site?
Start with your own experience. Work from with what you know and do research to develop your knowledge. Brainstorming is a good method for getting ideas. Start with a blank piece of paper and write down whatever comes to mind. Continue as long as words come into your head. After you have exhausted your ideas go back over the page and choose several of the best ideas to develop.
Another technique of generating ideas is to spend ten minutes writing about your chosen topic. Do not correct your work, dot i’s or cross t’s. When you have written for ten minutes go and do something else for half an hour or so and write for another ten minutes. Chances are you will be surprised by the direction your writing takes you.
You can use a free keyword tool to find a list of words people are searching for on the web. List the ones that are relevant to your subject area and try to include them in your content. The use of good keywords will increase your search engine rankings but use them too often and you could be penalised.
Below is a list of phrases generated by WordStream when I entered the word photography.
Research your topic to ensure that your information is accurate. Use credible sources to check your facts. Just because something is on the internet, shared in social media or in the local news paper does not mean it is accurate. If you use information that is not accurate you could damage your own reputation and loose customers.
Be honest with your readers and don’t make exaggerated claims or make promises you cannot keep.
Before you start writing, make a plan or an outline of what you want to say. You can do this in a linear fashion or you can develop a mind map. I prefer to use mind maps because I do not like to be confined to a linear structure.
When writing for the web keep your text as simple as possible. Choose shorter words rather than longer words that have the same meaning.
You can check the readability of your text at Readability-score.com. The higher the score the easier the page is to read.
Make sure that your writing is easy to understand unless you are writing for a scientific journal. Following clear, logical steps to convey your message. Avoid using jargon words and acronyms unless you make their definition clear at the beginning of your text.
Try to ensure your writing flows and one idea leads on to the next. Read and reread your work and remove any unnecessary words or phrases, for example “and also” “therefore” and “anyway”. Avoid using tautologies like “a free gift”, “repeat that again”. Check your work for words that are repeated throughout the piece and remove or change them. Sometimes you get a word stuck in your head and use it several times in one piece. Develop a list of substitute words or check in a thesaurus for an alternative word.
Vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs and try not to make any sentence or paragraph too long. People tend to scan content on the web and having variations in paragraph size appears to make your content more interesting and easier to read. Whenever you have a list put it in bullet point form to make your page easier to scan.
Photos, illustrations and videos
Meaningful photos and illustrations make your web site more appealing to visitors and enhance the content of your page. If you have the time you can use your own photos or make your own illustrations but there are several sites you can buy photos and illustrations for the web. Here are a few sites I use:
You can buy and download graphics and use them, but don’t nick anything. Your work is copyrighted and so is other people’s.
From “Know our Onions Web Design” by Drew do Soto Page 43
The easiest way to add videos to your page is to upload them to YouTube or Vimeo and grab the code and embed it into your site. Of course you can share other peoples videos from YouTube as long as it is relevant to your content.
A web site that does not have good content is a waste of cyber space. Make the effort to have valuable information on your web site either by writing your own copy or getting someone to write it for you. Including pictures, illustrations and videos that are relevant to the content will add to your site’s appeal. Make the effort to have good content on your site. Have good navigational structure to your site so visitors can find the information they are looking for. Keep your content up to date and remember to check your links to see if they are correct.