When it comes to web content writing and editing, it pays to play by the rules.
While there’s absolutely room for creativity and interpretation in the world of online content, there are also just things you’re better off not doing, and things that you should make certain you do.
By understanding the ins and outs (dos and don’ts) of this industry, you’ll set yourself up to be more productive and fruitful.
With that in mind, check out these web content writing rules to live by.
Web Content Writing and Editing: 4 Key Dos and Don’ts
Just like learning to waltz requires memorizing a series of steps, learning to be an effective online copywriting requires understanding the rules of the game.
In light of that, here are our four top content writing rules for copywriting creatives in the modern world:
The 4 Big Don’ts of Online Content
In online content, learning what not to do is almost as important as learning what to do. With that in mind, here are four things you always want to avoid in your copywriting.
1. Dull, dry, icky content that could have come from anywhere
This covers both how we arrange content on a Web page, and what that page contains or how the information is rendered.
First, let’s discuss the actual content you’re writing. Any content you publish should be several things: unique, relevant, well-written, and exciting.
If these things sound like a tall order, it’s because they are. This is why so many content writers (unfortunately) go to the dark side and start churning out boring content that doesn’t do anything for their brand or their readers.
While this content certainly checks a box and gives the writer something to publish, it misses the larger goal of content as a whole, which is to inspire, educate, and provide meaning. With this in mind, writers must avoid this first pitfall like the black plague.
If you don’t have the time to put out high-quality content, you have exactly two choices: you can cut down on the content you’re publishing, or you can hire a writer (or a team of writers) to help you.
The best decision is the second one, and you’ll notice that “start publishing crappy content” is not an option at all.
Boring, poor-quality content is the bane of the online world, and it will harm your online presence much, much more than it helps it. To get the most traction from your content, you’ll also need to ensure that you’re arranging it on a page in a way that avoids being dull, dry, or icky, and lands solidly in the realm of creative, unique, and exciting.
2. Rambling without a point, or being overly verbose
While most writer jokes in the world center on an overly-intellectualized person making a simple concept difficult, the reality is the job of a writer is exactly the opposite. To be effective, you must abide by the golden web content writing rule: keep it simple.
Simple content performs better, and it’s a more efficient way to reach your audience.
With this in mind, sift through your content to cut out unneeded words, trim the fat, and get to the point. Your readers will thank you and your content will perform better.
What’s more, you’ll need to avoid common pitfalls. Remember that the best online content is original and creative, so try to avoid clichés, worn-out language, obvious statements, and irrelevant examples.
In the battle for page rank, the winners are the ones who can be authentic and simple in one easy package. Chunky, clunky, stuffed-too-full pieces need not apply.
3. Plagiarized content (or any duplicate content)
While most people imagine duplicate content as copying and pasting someone else’s website, it can be much more nuanced than that. Often, plagiarized content comes in the form of duplicated meta descriptions or improperly cited facts. Whatever you do, avoid both of these things in your online content. In addition to improving your Google rank, this will also make your content more authoritative and relevant to your users.
4. Content that is filled with mistakes
While all writers make mistakes, it’s essential that you catch them before your audience does. Spelling and grammar mistakes can destroy the functionality of your content. With this in mind, run your content through a spelling and grammar checker like Grammarly, and always give it several proof-reads before you send it off to be published.
What are the Dos of Content Writing?
Now that we’ve covered what not to do let’s talk about what you should be doing. Follow the tips below:
1. Make your point clear in every piece you write
Today, the average reader’s attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s, so you don’t have much time to make your point.
Because of this, it’s essential to be upfront about why you’re writing the piece, and what it will offer the reader. If the user can’t immediately determine this, there’s a good chance they’ll leave for a piece that’s a bit more straightforward.
Open your pieces with an attention-grabbing sentence, and then get to work explaining your purpose. Your reader will thank you.
2. Stay on topic in your material
Nobody like a rambler and your content will lose readers if it wanders too far from the point. With this in mind, pick only one idea only to discuss, illustrate, or elaborate on in your article or blog post. Once you’ve done this, back it up and flesh it out accordingly, but stick to it.
This helps your readers locate what they’re looking for, and allows you to deliver more focused content from beginning to end.
3. Experiment with different content types
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, and many content creators and writers find what they love and stick with it.
Unfortunately, this renders you a stranger to dozens of unique and highly profitable forms of content that could be benefiting your company. Things like infographics, videos, memes, SlideShare presentations, and podcasts can all enhance your overall content strategy, and it’s worthwhile to check them out.
Even if you don’t feel like going whole-hog right off the bat, experimenting with different types of content can work wonders to help you reach your audience and provide a unique content experience.
With that in mind, look into ways to repurpose your existing content, or to experiment with different content formats. Take a long-form blog post and turn the facts within it into an infographic, for example, or create a unique visual to correspond with a social update.
The choice is yours, but there’s no doubt that altering your content formats can help boost your marketing strategy.
4. Do your research (keywords, competition, etc.)
While online writing doesn’t have to be a “winner take all” market, it certainly helps to do your research. By studying things like keywords, topics, trending content, and your competition, you can gain a better idea of what the content industry looks like, and how you can set yourself up to perform well within it.
While research used to be difficult due to a lack of resources and tools, it’s never been easier than it is right now. Tools like KWFinder can help you locate the best keywords for your content, while tools like BuzzSumo can help you figure out what types of content are trending for a particular keyword and why.
By using these tools in your content creation process, you not only allow yourself to gain a clearer picture of the market – but you also improve your content immediately, and give yourself the skills to keep the improvement going in future pieces.
Content creation is tough, and not using the tools that are available to you could easily be classified as one of the critical “don’ts” of the industry.
With that in mind, locate the research tools that help you understand your climate more efficiently, and then put them to use!
Web Content Writing Rules: Where All Good Content Starts & Ends
Everything that functions smoothly must have rules, and content writing is no different.
By providing some parameters for online writers and helping you figure out what areas to explore and which to avoid, web content writing rules provide an important basis for copywriters everywhere and, when observed, can help transform online content in a hurry.
So whether you’re a professional copywriter looking to enhance your skills, or a business that wants to ensure playing by the rules as they exist today, these smart web content writing rules can help you stay in the lines and on the sunny side of the street.
No time to create content that plays by the rules? No problem. At Express Writers, we have a team of highly skilled copywriters who are waiting to create the web content your company needs to succeed. Get in touch today!