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how to write great web content

Writing Great Web Content: Your Ultimate Guide

Fact: There’s too much bad content on the web.

In fact, there’s so much crap, people are having a hard time discerning which sources are legitimate, which facts are actually facts, and who can be trusted.

People’s trust in the mass media has largely eroded, as a Gallup poll has shown. This distrust isn’t random – the internet has largely helped sow these seeds.

So, what happens when you swoop in with accurate, valuable web content?

It’s a light in the dark.

lights

Great web content is a torch that leads the way, setting an example for other content creators.

Best of all, you give readers exactly what they want, need, and crave.

That’s why we’re here with this extensive guide on how to write great web content. Learn how to build this type of lasting, strong web content, right now in today’s “ultimate guide.”

ultimate guide on how to write web content

The Ultimate Guide: How to Write Great Web Content

7 Ways to Write Great Web Content for Blockbuster Blogs

1. Make the Headline Sing

  1. Appeal to the Human Brain
  2. Keep It Clear, but Don’t Insult Their Intelligence
  3. Use Better Wording

2. Give Away Your Best Information in the Intro

  1. Start with the Hook
  2. Tell Them WHY They Should Care

3. Organize Your Points

  1. Explaining a Concept? Go from Basic to Complicated
  2. Writing a Tipsheet? Go from Most-Important to Least-Important
  3. Writing a Guide? Go Step-by-Step

4. Reference and Link to High-Quality Sources

5. Check Your Research

6. Write the Right Blog Post Length

7. Illustrate Your Points with Images

4 Ways to Write Great Web Content for Landing Pages and Web Pages

1. Write an Actionable Headline

2. Make the Body Copy Skimmable

3. Stay Benefit-Focused

4. Write a CTA That Shouts at the Reader

  1. Take Cues from the Headline
  2. Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate the Reader to Act

5 Examples of How to Write Great Web Content (the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), Plus:

THIS Is How to Write Great Web Content

Examples of Lackluster Web Content – Don’t Make These Mistakes!

When you create great web content, you help set the standard for publishing useful, accurate information online. 💡 More in today's guide by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet Learn how to build lasting, strong web content 🧱 in our ultimate guide on the topic via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

What’s the Anatomy of Great Web Content?

Writing good web content calls for hitting a series of bullseyes.

All of them have to do with satisfying your audience. (No surprise, there.)

No matter which industry you’re writing for, no matter what topic you’re covering, greatness always follows this anatomical structure:

  • The Brain: Is it educational, informative, or practical?
  • The Skeleton: Is it well-organized? Does it make sense as a whole?
  • The Muscle: Does it pull you in? Does it make you want/need to keep reading?
  • The Heart: Does it entertain you? Does it resonate?

To make sure your web content hits home, include each of these vital parts.

Here’s how.

7 Ways to Write Great Web Content for Blockbuster Blogs

Web content like blogs requires a fair bit of finessing and fiddling to make them truly great.

Take the time to check off each of these boxes, and you’ll be well on your way to web content greatness.

1. Make the Headline Sing

A great piece of web content worth its weight in gold starts with an amazing headline.

We’ve written plenty about how to optimize your headline for SEO, but how do you craft a headline that appeals to readers? How do you create one that’s just plain good?

3 Ways to Write Better Headlines

1. Appeal to the Human Brain

Humans are really predictable.

human-behavior-predictable

Luckily, when you’re sitting down to write your headlines, you can bank on this predictability. There are a few things we love to see in headlines, stuff that makes us far more likely to click them or keep scrolling to read the content underneath.

Here’s what we know. Take these points into consideration when you write your headlines. Try to incorporate one (or a few) into your phrase/sentence:

  • The human brain is attracted to numbers. In fact, a portion of our brain cells is dedicated solely to recognizing and interpreting numerals. When you include them in your headlines, you tap into the human desire to quantify value.
    • Examples: “5 Easy Ways to Save Money,” “10 Tips for Baking a Delicious Cake,” “3 Great Reasons to Start a Savings Account”
  • Humans hate feeling uncertain. Let’s put it this way: uncertainty = anxiety = stress. If you leave your headlines too ambiguous, you’ll stir up that unwanted uncertainty and drive people away. According to a well-known study by Conductor, most people prefer explicit headlines that help them understand what they’re in for if they read your blog or article.

conductor_headlines-clarity

A portion of our brain cells is dedicated solely to recognizing and interpreting numerals. 🧠 When you include them in your headlines, you tap into the human desire to quantify value. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet
  • People are asking questions in search. In particular, more and more people are using voice search to get information, and asking questions in full sentences. Answer them in your headlines! Framing your headlines as answers will also help you rank for popular voice search queries.
    • Examples: “How to Jump-Start a Car” “How to Bake a Birthday Cake “Here’s Why You Should Start a Savings Account”

2. Keep It Clear, But Don’t Insult Their Intelligence

When writing headlines, many people forget about a key ingredient: clarity.

Without clarity, your headline will be too confusing to appeal to readers. Plus, it will stir up the uncertainty we mentioned above, which is never a good idea.

Of course, it’s just as easy to go the other direction and come up with a headline that’s way too simplistic and obvious. Case in point:

bad-headline1

Instead of stating the obvious, focus on readability.

To help you keep it clear and understandable, consider using a tool that will score the readability of your text, like Readable.io.

Just paste your headline into the textbox, and the tool will automatically give it a letter grade based on how easy it is to read.

readable.io_headline

The letter grade is based on a bunch of different metrics and scales, including Flesch-Kinkaid.

readable.io_scores

readable.io_grade-levels

Another free tool that works similarly is WebpageFX’s Readability Test Tool. Just paste your headline into the “test by direct input” box and click “calculate readability.”

readability-test-tool

Shoot for a low grade level – that means just about anybody who reads it will understand it.

readability-test-tool_results

3. Use Better Wording

Your headline is a short phrase that tells readers what to expect if they choose to read it. However, it’s better to think of it as a pitch rather than a summary.

Think about it: You have only one chance to convince your reader to bite. Suddenly, a trite headline that is nothing but explanatory seems wildly insufficient.

This is why you need to think long and hard about each word you use.

Take, for example, this unassuming headline:

How to Bake a Cake

It’s bare-bones at best, and merely states what you’ll learn in the article. Okay. That’s fine, but it doesn’t offer any reason to read more. There are hundreds of millions of articles about this topic on Google. Why should I read this one?

google-results_howtobakeacake

If this is your headline, you’re not giving me a reason to read your blog. You’re literally asking me to pass you up.

Instead, spice things up to show why I should read YOUR post instead of one of the hundreds of millions of other blogs about the exact same topic.

Here are some tips to make your headlines spicier:

  • Be specific – I don’t have time for generalities; the internet is shouting at me from all directions and my attention is limited. Tell me exactly what I’m in for. (I.e., What kind of cake will I learn to bake? Birthday cake? Chocolate cake? Lemon cake? Fruitcake?)
  • Use adjectives, but not too many – Adjectives make your headline more enticing and nudge your readers to an emotional reaction. For example, adding positive words like “good,” “great,” “best,” “awesome,” “exciting,” etc. will help create that positive association/emotion. Include at least one adjective to spark the emotion you want readers to feel when they read the actual post.
    • However, don’t fall into the trap of stuffing your headline with as many adjectives as possible. According to that Conductor study we already referenced, most people like to see at least one descriptor or superlative in headlines, but no more.

conductor_headlines-superlatives

  • Spice up your verbs – Even if the verb you’re using in your headline seems like the most logical choice, challenge yourself to see if you can find a better one. For example, the headline above uses the verb “bake.” But we could also test out “make,” “create,” “invent,” or “whip up.” (Don’t be afraid to consult a thesaurus to help you find alternatives for boring verbs.)

make-synonyms

When I use the above techniques to improve my headline, it transforms:

How to Bake a Cake” (*yawn*)

OR “How to Whip Up the Best Darn Birthday Cake Ever

Which blog would YOU want to read?

2. Give Away Your Best Information in the Intro

Once your headline draws them in, you have to keep convincing your readers to stay on your page.

To do it, you have to write the opposite way from what you learned in school.

1. Start with the Hook

Usually, with school papers, we hold our main argument close to our chests and wait until we’re well past the introduction to reveal it.

You can’t do that with online writing.

How do you write content for a website?

You have to start with the hook.

That’s right.

To build strong web content 🦍, give away your main point, your best information, at the very beginning. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Then, use the rest of the post to offer supporting facts.

Here’s an example from a fairly recent post on our site (Why Your Content Marketing Must Have Focus).

In the intro, I tell you my main point right away: Lack of focus in content marketing will lead to lower quality content, less revenue, and lost readership. Then, to lead into the rest of the blog, I promise to tell you how to focus your content efforts:

ew_intro-main-points

I did not withhold this huge point until later in the blog – I gave it to you right away, and then I promised to prove it AND provide solutions.

2. Tell Them WHY They Should Care

The reason you want to give away your best stuff right off the bat is the online reader’s attention span – it’s short.

They begin reading your blog wondering why they should care about what you’re saying. If you don’t tell them, their mind will wander. They’ll switch tabs. They’ll click the “x” in the top right corner of your page.

So, TELL THEM.

Start with the “why.” Give them a reason to stay on your blog – immediately.

Of course, there are more online writing tricks to keep your readers on your page. Check out my guide to SEO writing.

3. Organize Your Points

As a content creator, it’s your job to guide your reader through your research and thought processes effortlessly.

It shouldn’t feel like work to read your blog posts.

A huge part of making it easy is organizing your points logically. Of course, the best approach to this organization depends on what you’re writing about.

1. Explaining a Concept? Go from Basic to Complicated

Let’s say you’re writing a blog post about string theory, a concept in physics, for people who don’t know what it is.

Where do you start? How do you lay it out for them?

Start broad and basic, and then move to the more complicated aspects.

A great example is this String Theory for Dummies Cheat Sheet. It starts out broad, laying out the basic gist of string theory in the intro:

string-theory-for-dummies

Then, it dives into features of string theory, from most basic to most complicated:

string-theory-for-dummies2

This technique helps lay the groundwork for your reader, giving them information like rungs on a ladder. Each nugget of knowledge acts as one rung. The higher they climb, the more they’ll understand.

2. Writing a Tipsheet? Go from Most-Important to Least-Important

If you’re writing a series of tips, tricks, or hacks, you don’t need to write them in any specific order – but you should try to give away your most important, best tips first. 🎩@JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Much like how you should start with “why” in your introduction, this technique helps keep your reader on the page.

So, arrange your points with the most interesting or useful tips first, then move to ones that are more general or well-known.

C) Writing a Guide? Go Step-by-Step

Organization-wise, writing a guide is very close to explaining a concept.

For both, you start with the most basic information, then gradually move to the complicated stuff. The main difference is a guide must include different steps or stages to help the reader reach the desired result.

As such, start with the most basic steps first, then finish up with the most complex ones. Don’t forget to use different headings to help organize each step (including numbered lists), and make sure you directly address the reader like you’re coaching them on what to do.

4. Reference and Link to High-Quality Sources

Writing good web content isn’t just about how you organize your thoughts or present your information. It’s also about proving your statements and assertions are accurate and based on research/knowledge.

How do you do this? Make sure you reference and link to high-quality sources.

Here’s when to cite a source and provide a link:

  • Any time you state a statistic, i.e. “8 out of 10 people will read your blog headline.”
  • Any time you state a fact that isn’t common knowledge, i.e. “Most online readers don’t read to the end of an article, according to Slate.”
  • Any time you reference another website, i.e. “Hemingway Editor is a great tool for self-editing.”

If you’re not sure if you should cite and link to a source, here’s a good rule of thumb: When in doubt, cite the source.

How to Judge the Quality of an Internet Source

To help improve your search engine rankings, you should try to link to only high-quality, high-authority websites.

How do you know if a website is high-quality? There’s a quick way to find out:

  1. Download an SEO browser extension, like SEOquake or MozBar.
  2. For every website you want to link to, first check the domain authority (DA) score. The higher the score, the more authoritative the site.
  3. Sites will be scored on a scale from 1-100. In general, any site that scores above 50 is authoritative enough to link to. Moz will score all the listings in search results, making it easy to find authority sources:

moz_DA     4. You can also check the DA of a website directly from their page. It will be listed on the MoBar like so:

moz_DA-on-page

Remember: Well-known websites and brands probably don’t need to be checked. (Think The New York Times, Content Marketing Institute, or Forbes.)

5. Check Your Research

Along with vetting your sources, you should also double-check that you’re linking to original sources.

What do I mean by this?

If you cite a statistic from a study, link to the original study, not a recap of the study from a different site, or someone who merely cites the study.

For example, there are lots of stats round-ups like this one:

socialmediatoday_50-content-marketing-stats

There are lots and lots of valuable stats listed here about content marketing, but this page itself isn’t the source.

If you want to include some of these stats in your next blog, you have to do some digging to find the original posts.

socialmediatoday_50-content-marketing-stats-infographic

In an infographic full of stats, it’s usually at the bottom, in small print:

socialmediatoday_50-content-marketing-stats-infographic-sources

To make it easier to find the stat you want to cite on its original source page, use your browser’s “find” feature. (For Chrome users, just hit “Ctrl + F” on your keyboard. Then enter the statistic or phrase in question to find it on the page.)

search-webpage-chrome

You can also search PDFs this way:

search-pdf

Once you find the stat you’re looking for, you can cite the original source. This makes it much easier for your audience to read further about your topic/research. It’s also a better linking practice, which is better for rankings.

6. Write the Right Blog Post Length

Great website content is thorough.

And, usually, thorough = comprehensive = long form.

You’re not skimming the surface of a topic – you’re diving deep into its depths to explore every nook and cranny.

However long it takes to thoroughly explore your topic is exactly the length your blog post should be.

Keep in mind, though, that 74% of blog posts that get read are under 3 minutes long, according to Buffer.

That amounts to at least 1,600 words.

The content that gets the most shares is usually audience-dependent. For example, Buffer found that their most popular posts were 2,500 words and over.

buffer-word-count-social-shares

The main point: Despite what you may believe, long-form content does not daunt online readers. Don’t be afraid to go long when you’re figuring out how to write web content.

For more reasons to create long-form content, plus the best ways to do it, check out our long-form content guide.

web content CTA

7. Illustrate Your Points with Images

Here’s another factor inherent in most kinds of powerful, inspirational, great web content:

Images are peppered in with the text.

The best examples of this come from Neil Patel – each post is filled with examples, screenshots, and infographics that expand on points in the text.

neilpatel-images1

neilpatel-images2

It makes sense. Images add visual interest, clarity, and even humor or excitement to web content.

Images alongside the text also make it more fun to read.

Do you agree?

yes

The key is to use images that suit your brand’s tone of voice. If you have a more formal or elegant vibe, you probably wouldn’t use gifs (like the one above) in your blogs. Instead, you might want to stick to graphs, charts, and illustrative images.

However, if your voice is more laid-back, lighthearted, or casual, you can and should add a little humor in measured doses.

For more help on using images in your blog posts, check out our ultimate guide on creating blog images.

How to Write Great Web Content for Landing Pages and Web Pages

Landing pages are a different beast from blog posts.

This type of web content serves a different purpose, so it requires a different approach.

Landing pages serve as a place for visitors to land when they click one of your ads or CTAs elsewhere (in an email, a blog post, etc.).

Directing your traffic to one of these pages can help push them toward the action you want them to complete, like signing up for your newsletter or making a purchase.

Here’s an example of one of our higher-performing landing pages. This one generates a few subscribers daily. This particular page allows you to download our Easy ABC Content Strategy Checklist:

ew_landing-page1

ew_landing-page2

All the content on this page serves to get you primed to do one thing:

Enter your information to get a free download.

As you can see, landing pages are incredibly valuable for traffic-to-lead conversions.

Sound good? Here’s how to write great web content for your own super-powered landing pages.

1. Write an Actionable Headline

Great landing page web content begins and ends with a call-to-action. Start off strong and infuse that into your headline. Here’s how:

  • Use verbs and power words – Your landing page exists to convince/push the reader to complete the desired Think about what you want visitors to do once they land on your content, then tell them to do it using verbs and power words.

Here’s a good example from HubSpot:

hubspot_landing-page-headline

The headline includes a motivating verb: “Get Started

Here are lots of other suggestions for strong verbs and power words to use in your headline and get things off to a roaring start:

coschedule_words-phrases-use-in-calls-to-action

Via CoSchedule

  • Don’t get too wordy – It’s important to keep landing page headlines concise and to-the-point. If you get too wordy, the direction you want to move readers will become lost.

Here’s a landing page with a headline that’s too long (from none other than Adobe):

adobe_landingpage

Not only is it too wordy, there’s also zero action verbs or motivating language.

Even worse, the CTA simply reads “Submit”.

Not good.

  • Use the word “you” – According to a HubSpot study, CTAs that directly address the reader (using the word “you”) are 42% better at converting them. As such, speak to the reader in your web content headline and make it 10x more powerful.

Here’s a great example of web content from Copy Hackers that uses all of the above principles:

copyhackers_landingpage

2. Make the Body Copy Skimmable

You’ve perfected an actionable, motivating headline for your landing page web content. Now you’re ready to craft your body copy.

There are arguments in favor of both short and long landing page content. According to Crazy Egg, the length you should choose is the one that meshes best with your audience.

However, no matter how long or short you go, you should always strive to make your web content body copy skimmable.

That means a few things:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Lots of line breaks
  • Using numbered and bulleted lists where logical
  • Using H2s, H3s, and even H4s when necessary

Here’s an example of super-long web content that still manages to be easy-to-read – but only because the content is organized with attention to all of the above principles:

super-long-landing-page

Image via The Daily Egg

As you can imagine, this page would be a nightmare to read without all that organization. For best results, don’t skip this essential part of the web content equation.

3. Stay Benefits-Focused

When writing web content, staying benefits-focused also means staying user-focused.

That’s because benefits convey your product/service features as they relate to the reader.

In other words, when you stay benefits-focused, you’re honing in on what interests your audience. You answer this burning question for them: How will this product/service/etc. positively affect their life?

Here’s an example of benefits-focused web content from the landing page for the Barnes & Noble Membership program. Benefits are underlined in red:

bn-membership-benefits

For more insights on how to stay benefits-focused in your web content, read our guide to conversion-friendly landing page copy.

4. Write a CTA That Shouts at the Reader

Web content without a call-to-action is ineffective. Period. When users land on a page, they won’t know what to do unless you direct them. ⏭️ @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

So, direct them! Here are a few simple ways you can do that.

1.  Take Cues from the Headline

The headline you crafted for your landing page web content is perfect to refer back to when writing your CTA.

For a cohesive page, make these two components match or mirror each other. That way, they’ll reinforce the desired action.

Here’s an example of a strong CTA from CoSchedule.

The headline says “It’s time to fire makeshift marketing”. Love it!

coschedule-landingpage-headline

Meanwhile, the CTA mirrors the headline: “Kick makeshift marketing to the curb

coschedule-landingpage-cta

The two play off each other, which builds up the CTA nicely. Similar wording helps drive the desired action home.

2. Encourage, Inspire, and Motivate the Reader to Act

A great CTA is truly motivating.

It will direct user action, but it will do so in an encouraging, inspirational way.

Take the CTA above as a great example: “Kick makeshift marketing to the curb”.

When we think of the popular saying “kick it to the curb,” we’re reminded of the freeing feeling of ridding ourselves of stressful or annoying baggage.

When you kick something to the curb, you’re lightening your load. You’re putting a spring back in your step. Now that’s inspiring.

For the CTAs you include in your web content, try the same tactic – put a little inspiration in there.

One of our own CTAs at EW does just that by inspiring you to think of content creation like baking bread or whipping up a fresh dish. To get a fresh final product that will tantalize their audience, all they have to do is step up to our “counter” and order:

CTA21

Helping your audience to think of taking action in a novel way is a great method to inspire them.

How to Write Great Web Content: 5 Good, Bad, and Ugly Examples

Want to know how to write good content for a website?

Learn by example.

Here are some good ones (and not-so-good ones).

THIS Is How to Write Great Content for your Website

Take inspiration from these blogs and web pages:

1. CoSchedule

CoSchedule regularly nails great content with their comprehensive blog posts. From the headline to the intro, to the organization, the writing, the research, and the value provided, you can’t go wrong studying their posts for a primer on how to write great web content.

coschedule_blog-example

2. SmartBlogger

For examples of great blog posts that are fun to read and informative, look to SmartBlogger. This blog, in particular, is well organized and bursting with valuable information.

smartblogger-blog-example

3. Airstory

Want stellar examples of landing pages and web pages? Check out Airstory’s website – they nail every facet of great web content.

airstory-web-page-example1

airstory-web-page-example2

Examples of Lackluster Web Content – Don’t Make These Mistakes!

Bad web content is out there. Here are a few examples to help make the distinction clear.

1. Confusing and distracting

Here’s an example of a landing page gone wrong – there’s no clear headline, no visible call-to-action (you have to hunt for it), and too many little pieces of information screaming for your attention.

Seriously, what am I supposed to do on this webpage?

sears-webpage-example

2. Thin and lackluster

If you’re writing blog content, don’t follow this example. It’s supposed to be a blog post with a recipe for a brownie ice cream sandwich, but the ingredients list unhelpfully calls for “brownies”.

Uh, what?

Plus, the content is nonexistent – there’s no information about what this tastes like, suggestions for serving, tips for decorating, or ideas for variations. We just get super-vague ingredients and instructions.

In short, there’s nothing here of value for me.

ice-cream-blog-example

The Final Steps for Writing Good Web Content

The anatomy of web content that wins includes brains, muscle, strong bones, and heart – lots and lots of heart.

You get all of that and more when you include all the components we’ve mentioned here in our guide.

Great web content is thorough, well-organized and logical, well-researched, easy to read, and provides that extra something that keeps readers on the page.

After you’ve crafted this kind of content – after you’ve poured in hours of work and painstaking attention to detail – make sure you go over it with a fine-tooth comb.

Write with care, research with detail, and edit, edit, edit.

And remember…

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is outstanding web content that wins over readers.

web content CTA

optimized web content

SEO-Optimized Web Content: How Do You Optimize Without Overdoing It?

Search engine optimization? Isn’t that dead? Nope! If you thought it was, then you were misinformed. SEO isn’t dead or dying, it’s simply evolving, according to our SEO predictions for 2014. And it’s still important to know how to optimize without overdoing it.

When is the last time you overdid something? Be honest! We all overdo things from time to time because we get wicked excited or have a habit of overthinking and second guessing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of because it amounts to human nature. But when it comes to something as important to your business as SEO-optimized web content, how do you make sure you don’t overdo it? Is there anything wrong with overdoing it? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss.

 

The SEO Golden Rule

There’s a golden rule in every industry, isn’t there? In a lot of industries, the golden rule boils down the age old saying, “The customer is always right.” When it comes to the content industry, I’ve heard a slight various to this adage: “The audience rules.”

Fact: you can create a beautiful website packed full of content, but it’ll be dead on arrival if the audience doesn’t like it.

Truth: the audience really does rule the content kingdom.

According to KISSmetrics, the golden rule of on-site optimization is this:

When using any…SEO elements [don’t] overdo it.

The thing about golden rules is that they really should not be broken. And when it comes to search engine optimization, you DON’T want to break the golden rule. So, to answer one of the questions we posed in the beginning of this post, YES there absolutely is something wrong with overdoing SEO. Don’t believe us? Let’s talk consequences…

 

The Consequences of Breaking The SEO Golden Rule Or…

…why you don’t want to overdo SEO. Let’s be brutally honest, shall we? Most of us small to medium sized business owners broke the rules to get where we are today. Thinking outside of the box and stretching AND breaking the rules are part of entrepreneurship. But along the way we learned that certain rules cannot be stretched or broken without hurtful consequences. Writing over optimized web content is one of them.

Back in March of 2012, Search Engine Roundtable published an article entitled, Cutts: Google to Target Overly SEO’ed Sites within Weeks. You should definitely check out the audio recording from Cutts in the article. In case you’re unfamiliar with the name, Matt Cutts is the person to know when it comes to SEO. He started out with Google in 2000 as a software engineer, and today he’s the head of Google’s Webspam team. Breaking SEO news on the dos and don’ts of search engine optimization—especially the don’ts—come from him. When Cutts speaks up, you listen.

Back in 2012, Cutts made it clear that websites overdoing SEO were going to get unwanted attention: they would be penalized by Google. The idea was to level the playing field and promote a right way of doing SEO-optimized web content.

As you can imagine, the change in policy caused a sizeable stir. Fast forward to today, 2014, and the policy still stands. If you overdo SEO elements on your website, it won’t help you; it will hurt you. Your search rankings will drop, and you’ll end up in the one place you don’t want to be: Google’s penalty box.

So, how do you do optimized web content without over optimizing? How do you cross your T’s, dot your I’s, and come out on Google’s good side? The working tactics just might surprise you.

 

3 Ideal Tips for Optimized Web Content

Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it comes down to using a little common sense and knowing where to look if you have questions. A lot of well researched and credible resources on SEO are available online; just to name a few: Search Engine Land, HubSpot, The Content Marketing Institute and KISSmetrics. But we’re here to get you started with some simple, common sense tips to keep you from overdoing web content optimization:

  1. Forget about keyword density. When the three little letters s-e-o come together to form the content marketing buzzword SEO, we tend to see people automatically raising questions about keyword density. If my blog is going to be 500 words, at what density should my keyword be? If I want to insert my keyword 4 times, how many words should make up my content? Forget about keyword density. I know, I know! It goes against everything you’ve had drilled into your head about SEO since this type of optimization started. Trust me; we know how hard it is to kick old habits. But this is one that has to go. Even Matt Cutts says there’s no such thing as an ideal keyword density.
  2. Stop keyword stuffing! Cutts’ video talks about this tip. Google frowns heavily on keyword stuffing, which can happen due to unnatural overuse of a keyword or phrase. The keyword to note here is “unnatural.” It’s okay to incorporate keywords and phrases into your web content. In fact, they still need to be there so search engines can understand what your content is about. But don’t stuff them in like a Thanksgiving turkey. The trick is to craft them into the copy so that it reads naturally, as if the words were meant to be there. Never, ever strain to use keywords, jamming them in for the sake of presence versus readability.
  3. Don’t go link crazy. Since the New Year, you’ve likely heard a lot about SEO and backlinking. Pay attention to the links you choose to use for backlinking. Why? Because you don’t want to be spammy. That is a big no-no that will land you in Google’s penalty box. Rule of thumb: only backlink when the link is relevant to your content and expands on it in an easy to see manner. In other words, don’t backlink to content that is a stretch in comparison to yours.
  4. Focus on darn good content. Don’t fret about the mechanics unless you’re worrying over English mechanics. If you focus on writing quality content that is great, you won’t have much to worry about overdoing SEO.

 

What Is Darn Good or Great Content?

Content that your audience will label as “darn good” and “great” is known as QUALITY in the content marketing world. It’s made up of the kind of copy that satisfies your audience’s unending thirst for good storytelling, relevant information and educational material. In fact, quality content is all about meeting the needs of your readership while also meeting the needs of a new audience who are soon to become a regular addition to your readership.

Just how can you spot darn good content? Whether you’re writing it yourself or having it written by a copywriter, here are the elements you want to include:

  • Relevancy. The content filling your webpages must be relevant to your business, otherwise it’s a waste. Let’s say your business is automotive. You’re a mechanic. You own a shop. People who visit your website are expecting automotive related material. If you have a blog (and we hope you do because blogs are powerful SEO tools), folks visiting your website expect to see topics like, “How to Diagnose an Engine Leak” and “How to Choose a Good Mechanic.” If you decided to throw in some content about a local bakeoff, they’ll frown in confusion, conclude you’re off your rocker and hit up the next local mechanic’s website. Don’t confuse your audience with irrelevant information. Stay on topic.
  • Informative-ness. Okay, so we’re sort of coining a new word here. The point is this element needs to stand out in your mind. Your content must be informative if you expect the audience to see it as valuable. And you WANT people to see your content as valuable. Don’t tell them you’re the best at what you do. SHOW them through your informative content. Give them all of the information they need to decide that you are indeed the best. Speak to issues they face here and now, and show them how you provide a unique solution.
  • Engagement. The writing style of your content must engage and compel. What exactly does this mean? It means the writing style needs to spur your audience to action. It needs to compel them to start reading your copy and finish it. It needs to engage them so that they feel the need to take some sort of action, whether that action is to share the copy, contact you directly, leave a comment or buy your product or service.
  • Well written. Remember how we said not to fret about the mechanics unless you’re worrying over English mechanics? Well, here’s what we were taking about. Instead of worrying about inserting keywords that don’t sound mechanical, focus on a natural flow. Then, worry over the English mechanics. Ensure the copy is free of unwanted spelling, grammatical and formatting errors. Content that is riddled with errors is hard to read. It’s distracting, distasteful and a sure way to drive your audience away. Not to mention, content crammed with such errors will suffer a decreased search engine ranking—not cool!
  • Cover the topic without stuffing keywords or under- or overreaching the word count. Unless you have writing experience under your belt, your best bet for quality content that incorporates search engine optimization is a well-trained industry copywriter or a copywriting agency that staffs such copywriters. The ultimate goal is to not overdo SEO, and the ultimate way to achieve this goal is to write naturally. I know what you’re thinking, how do you write SEO-optimized web content naturally without over- or underdoing it?

 

The Balance, or How to Not Over- or Underdo SEO-Optimized Web Content

Alright, we talked about keyword densities and keyword use. But we haven’t said much about word counts. Copywriters are asked about word counts repeatedly, and the truth is that there’s no set rule for determining word counts. Does your topic need 400 to 600 words, or is it better covered in 500 to 1,000 words? The answer entirely depends on what you want to cover. How large is the scope? What information do you absolutely have to have? You might think you can cover your topic in 600 words, but once the writing process is underway, you’ll find out the topic will flow much more naturally if you allow the writer up to 1,000 words.

A natural flow is all-important. You can spot it by looking for the following:

    • The discussion doesn’t feel rushed.
    • The article doesn’t feel like it is missing information or void of detail.
    • The organization of the copy makes sense, and the conclusion doesn’t feel rushed.
    • The copy doesn’t seem overly wordy.
    • The content covers the topic thoroughly without going off topic or incorporating bizarre information.
    • The overall piece feels satisfying and doesn’t feel like a reach.

Achieving balance and not overdoing search engine optimization comes down to good old fashioned common sense. If your optimized web content doesn’t read well, then change it. If keywords sound robotic and overused, take them out or restructure them so that they read naturally. If your content feels too long or too short based on the topic, allow it to breathe by either tightening it up or making it longer.

The audience will be your ultimate decision maker. If you focus on creating quality web content that people want to read, comment on and share, chances are you’re doing it right and search engine optimization will fall into place on its own. If you feel like you have to strain to get SEO into the mix, chances are you’re doing it wrong. SEO is becoming a hidden element, something your readership should barely if ever notice. Once you achieve this, you’ll be in the green.

In the meantime, if you’re searching for more informative information about how to best attack SEO and write quality SEO-optimized web content in 2014, check out our article on Business2Community. There we discuss 20 fundamentals of great SEO for 2014.

 

 

web content

Website Content Writing 101: Stop Worrying About Keywords, & What to Focus on Instead

If you, like me, have been in the world of website content writing services for a while, you remember a not-so-distant time when online writing was all about keyword inclusion.

Namely, how many keywords could you cram into a given web content page, and would Google notice?

While many marketers are still relying on tactics like these, Google and other search engines have changed drastically. It’s gotten to the point where marketers who have not evolved their content strategies are being left behind.

While Google used to rely on keyword inclusion as a reputable quality metric, today’s search engine algorithms are much more sophisticated. Today, Google looks at things like social signals, site quality, SEO, link strategies, image inclusion, content layout and length, besides just keywords.

While keywords still have an important place in the world of online content, focusing too much on keywords can come at the expense of your other content.

In light of this, it’s time to toss keyword reliance to the wind and to focus, instead, on all of the other things that make the world of web content writing go around.

website content writing services

Improve Your Content Writing on the Web By Focusing Less On Keywords Only

In the days of old, a page needed few things to rank well.

For one, it needed a high keyword saturation that helped Google interpret what the page was about. In addition to that, it needed a link strategy and some on-page content. That was about it.

Today, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Google has gotten amazingly advanced in the last several years, and sites that are to rank well in today’s version of Google need to have dozens of different high-quality ranking metrics, including good SEO, high-quality visuals, a solid social strategy, following, and base of shares, and a relevant, long-tail keyword strategy.

Unfortunately, marketers who are too busy focusing on things like keyword saturation and density often miss these nuanced things.

The Modern Face of SEO Web Content

Today, SEO is virtually unrecognizable to professionals who worked in the old SEO styling. Today, anything that’s considered to be solid in terms of SEO web content writing must optimize for two things: people and search engines.

If this sounds like a tall order – you’re right!

Modern SEO as a whole is complicated, and it requires a set of guidelines and a skilled team to execute it properly.

Here’s a list of some of the basic foundations of modern SEO content mapping, to help you get a feel for how it works today:

  • Modern SEO utilizes long-tail keyword phrases in natural ways
  • It optimizes for people first and search engines second
  • It seeks to provide value and solve problems rather than to sell directly
  • It gains its success from click-throughs, conversions, and shares
  • It is more conversational and less technical
  • It adapts frequently to changing consumer desires and needs

How to Improve Your SEO Web Writing Right Now: 5 Tips

When it comes to content writing for websites in the modern world, improving SEO generally means making the web content writing more functional and valuable.

While there are dozens of great ways to improve on-page content and ensure you’re making the most of common SEO standards and practices, the following steps are an excellent way to get started improving your SEO:

1. Get social with your web content writing

Social media is a key element in great SEO, and it’s one of the most important things for both humans and search engines of today. While social media is often written off as a waste of time or a platform that’s more suited to leisure than it is to marketing, the fact of the matter is that great SEO often starts on social media.

By using social platforms to distribute high-quality content, interact with followers, and build a base of devoted fans, it’s easy to improve your social following across the board and enjoy a boost in Google rankings, as a result.

2. Create a two-way dialogue in your online copy

Want to encourage customers to keep coming back to your web content? Show them that you appreciate their existing interaction!

While many companies brush over comments, likes, and shares, the trick to creating a successful online presence is to reach out and encourage engagement with your customers.

Have a new Instagram comment?

Take a moment to thank that person or company for taking the time to comment.

Have a new Facebook question or mention? Respond to it!

While this may not be directly an SEO writing tactic, it’s a simple step that can go a long way toward improving your overall visibility on the web and ensuring that your customers can find you, wherever they happen to be online.

3. Shoot for long-tail web content keywords

Right now, long-tail keywords make up 70% of all search volume.

Because of this, they’re a critical thing for marketers concerned about good SEO web content to target. While the whole point of this article is that it’s wise for marketers to avoid focusing on keywords too much, long-tail keywords are a wonderful thing to include in your overall content strategy.

Since long-tail keywords are highly specific, including them in your copy is a wonderful way to target it to your customers and boost your SEO by ensuring that the people who visit your site are qualified leads who are there because they’re ready to purchase or convert.

4. Beef up your linking strategy in your website content

Linking has been a fraught topic in the world of SEO for years.

Before SEO advanced to the point it’s at now, so-called black-hat SEOs used to stuff content full of spammy links to trick Google into ranking it well.

Since then, Google has cracked down on these exploitative practices. Today, links can benefit your copy, but they have to be executed correctly.

This means plenty of high-quality internal and outgoing links that point to other, valuable content and (in the case of outgoing links) sites with a high DA score.

This helps communicate to Google that your copy is reputable and that you’re tied into other legitimate sites on the web.

5. Create evergreen web content

Before we dive into the concept of evergreen content, let me just say that your best SEO strategy in the modern day is simply to create content – lots of it.

Every time you write a new blog, post a new web page, or develop a new article, you’re giving Google one more page to index.

This, in turn, helps boost your site’s relevance, ensure that your best content is appearing to your users, and allow you to feature more prominently in Google’s SERPs.

So, there you have it. Creating content, in general, is important, but creating evergreen content is critical.

Evergreen content is content with an incredibly long shelf life. Designed to provide value to readers for months or years after its original publishing date, evergreen content is the cornerstone of any good SEO or blogging strategy.

By creating plenty of evergreen content, you do two essential things: first, you give Google pages to index, which helps you pop up in the SERPs.

Second, you create in-depth, long-form pieces of content that can help your readers solve some of their most pressing and most common issues.

This, in turn, incentivizes them to come back to your site and continue interacting with your content, both today and in the future.

In these ways, evergreen content can help boost your SEO, improve your overall content strategy, and help you hop off of the keyword train for something better and more functional.

Web Content Writing Tip: Keywords Might Be Dead – And That’s Okay

Don’t get me wrong – a great long-tail web content focused keyword can still go a long way toward improving your content. But today, we’re thinking of it as more of a tool than a foundation.

In the web content writing world of the past, keywords were the end and the beginning.

Today, they’re just a strategy to improve writing, rather than one to create it.

Content writing on the web has evolved hugely, and, mostly, it’s been for the better. Today, search engines are smarter, readers are more interactive, and useful content is designed to cater to people first and computers second.

All of these things combine to ensure that content writing for a website reads more like a story than it does a dry, crunchy piece of “marketing material.”

As website content writing services have changed, though, some marketers have stayed stuck in the past – clinging desperately to all the things that used to work – including keywords.

Luckily, we don’t need to do this anymore.

Gone are the days of strained, density-focused keyword inclusion and marketers everywhere can do well to bid them a fond goodbye.

Today, great web content writing is all about value, relevance, interest, and – yes – beauty.

And it’s only by releasing our death grip on the outdated notion of keyword density that we’ll be able to grab all of those things.

Does your website content writing need a high quality copywriter? Get your web pages custom written at Express Writers today!