Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.
What do you think His Airness learned first – how to dunk from the free throw line or how to dribble and hit jump shots?
Before you start loading up your website with the latest plugins and widgets, focus on the words. What can you say to visitors to convince them to do business with you?
If you nail the content fundamentals, all the functionality, bells, whistles and eye candy will be that much more effective – as long as they don’t distract from your content.
Here are four website content writing fundamentals that you should apply to your new or existing website if you want it to be a viable marketing and sales tool.
1) Make it indisputable
Website content should clearly explain what you do, the results you deliver to your customers and how you deliver those results. Clarity removes uncertainty and makes people feel more confident about doing business with you.
As a writer, I love clever writing, but it’s not very clever if I can’t understand what you’re trying to say. Creativity should enhance clarity and strengthen your message, not confuse the reader.
People visit your website with questions. Effective website content speeds up the sales process by answering questions and removing doubt.
Leave no room for interpretation by stripping your core marketing message to the bare bones. Lose the adjectives and adverbs and focus on the nouns and verbs. Create a simple, clear statement that serves as the foundation for your website content.
2) Make it about your audience
Nobody cares about you. They only care about what you can do for them.
When people read your website content, they’re thinking, “Why and How does this Affect Me?” This is called the WHAM principle, a very simple exercise in focusing on the customer that’s critically important as you develop your content.
Website content should be focused on how you solve problems for your audience, fill their needs and make their lives better. The only page of your website that should be about your company and staff is your “About” page.
Your audience doesn’t care about Google either, so don’t butcher your website content in an effort to keep up with the latest flavor-of-the-week algorithm update. Write for people first and search second, sprinkling in keywords without affecting the flow or clarity of your content.
3) Make it natural
Most people speak in short sentences with short words. So should your website content, even if you have a very intelligent audience.
A recent article on the Content Marketing Institute blog pointed to a study by NN Group that proved this point.
A pharmaceutical website, rewritten to an eighth-grade reading level, dramatically improved its success rate among both low-literacy visitors (46 percent to 82 percent) and high-literacy visitors (68 percent to 93 percent).
You’re not dumbing down your website content. You’re using everyday language that makes it easier to read and absorb.
Read your website content out loud. If it doesn’t sound natural and easy to understand, revise it until it does. And for goodness sake, save the industry jargon for the boardroom and conventions.
4) Make it emotional
People make decisions based on emotions and use logic or facts to validate those decisions. That’s why salespeople want you to test drive expensive cars and try on expensive jewelry.
Use your website content to strike an emotional chord with your audience and make your company more meaningful to them.
These emotions can be positive, like love, joy, excitement, confidence, serenity, hope and amusement. Make listeners visualize how their lives will be better when they use your product or service.
These emotions can also be negative pain points, like frustration, shame, fear, grief, doubt, jealousy and anxiety. Make listeners visualize the negative impact of not using your product or service.
If you’re not sure what emotional angle will be most effective, ask your customers. Find out what factored into their decision to do business with you.
5) Make it easy to skim
People won’t read your content word for word. They’ll skim your content for information that’s relevant to them. If they can’t find that information easily, they’ll look someplace else.
Use short paragraphs with no more than a few sentences. Website content should rarely exceed a few hundred words, but when it does, use subheads to organize it for the reader – and the search engines.
Incorporate numbered and bullet-point lists, but don’t go overboard. This technique is a bit overused but can be helpful in the right context. For example, a list of five things is easier to skim and read when separated by bullets instead of commas.
Just don’t use ALL CAPS. ANNOYING, right?
Conduct an honest assessment of your website content. Does it follow these basic fundamentals of website content writing? If not, it’s time for an update.