CREATING GREAT WEBSITE CONTENT.
Since the advent of ebooks, book stores are closing at a frightening pace. But why is that?
To be blunt, it's because people simply don’t read books any more. They may say that they do (partly because of some pseudo intellectualism on their part) but overruns on actual books are killing publishers… and distributors and certainly stores. When was they last time you visited your local library?
I bet you're thinking just what this has to do with your website's content?
Because it’s a fact that any savvy businessperson will heed, consumers aren’t reading any more.
Some experts claim people only finish 65% of an article, and then only if it was really interesting; anything over 400 words is a waste of valuable space and effort (obviously blogs are not included in that statement). It’s not the rule but it’s a growing factor in content creation and how humans continue to communicate. So here's a simple guide to creating your content for your site.
How this affects all of us
I could post lots of opinions and studies that say people are reading less, but does anyone really disagree? Let’s just assume, for the sake of this side of the argument, that there is a dire need to make things “comprehension friendly” in all of your communication materials.
Have you ever heard of “The Lift Speech”? It’s how you would sell your business to someone as they travel the average 60-90 seconds in a lift. Why under two minutes? Because that is the time we have to capture their attention in our sales pitch, and most people can’t focus for more than 90 seconds, that's a fact of life in a world which is moving so fast.
So… what’s on the front page of your website?
How much do you tell the casual visitor in the hope that it will convert them into a customer? I’ve seen 400-word introductions that tell us exactly what the site owner does. I’ve also seen life stories spilled out in a rambling rant, that's fine in a blog but just like everything else in life, moderation is required. Some people believe it “humanises” them in the eyes of potential clients, and it does, which is why they get bored and zone out to what you’re saying in written content.
Responsive has been around for a while now and the take up has been on the increase as the technology has matured and the bugs ironed out.
Ok, so you've built up your startup from the ground up, all those sleepless hours, sweat and tears, stress like no one should feel.
There are many aspects of good web design, typography, layout etc etc. but one of the simplest and most effective to implement is white space.
You may have seen those TV adverts where they make it look so easy to build your own website for under a £10 a month.
When Dumbing it down is right
People seem to love little sound bites, we hear them on certain news broadcasts and humour monologues on late night shows or a guest slot on lunchtime political shows with Andrew Neil. Twitter has reduced them down to 140 characters or less, Vine has introduced the world to 6 second videos. This is how people are reading and absorbing information.
Videos over a minute and a half won’t get as many hits as videos under a minute. Get right to the point and leave it there.
I always advise clients to keep it short, if you can tell a potential customer why they should choose you in a list of five or six bullet points then why go into a list of twenty. When it comes to words, stating the same thing over and over does not give the illusion of quality content. You keep people’s attention by being short and to the point. In a way, you’re respecting people’s precious time and, when it comes to reading, their patience. Believe me they'll thank you for it.
Don't just copy the print marketing
One of the most common mistakes that a website owner does is to just copy and paste the marketing materials from the brochures onto the website, I've lost count of the amount of times a client has handed me a sales brochure with the instruction "just copy this".
Writing for the web needs to be on a whole different level from writing for print, and that's not to demean the printed copy. The way the web works is different from print and the writing needs to reflect that. Pick out the parts of your printed matter which are important (fluff not required) and then create the content based on that starting point.
Write content, not fluff
You'll make a start, see that you have about a hundred words and then you'll be tempted to 'pad out' your content. Resist the temptation! do not resort to writing in "marketing-speak". Even if you're trying to influence your readers to take a specific action, they are less likely to do it if your page feels like fluff, as 21st century net users we have all become adept at spotting fluff, so stay away from the temptation, it's for your own good, write as naturally as you speak.
Focus on your readers, not on google
SEO is important to get readers, actually it's essential. But if your writing is to obviously geared towards search engines you will quickly lose readers. When you write for a keyword phrase, you need to use the phrase enough so that it's recognized as the topic but not so much that your readers notice, repeating the keyword five times in a sentence will not only put off your reader but will also mark you down with the search engine, Google's latest algorithms are as close to artificial intelligence as it gets and will spot such tactics very quickly . If you have the same phrase repeated in a sentence, that's too much. More than twice in a paragraph is too much.
Any professional web development agency will check and double check the content a client supplies, using various tools to compare what is going on the new website with content from millions of other websites, word for word.
There are two reasons for this, firstly Copyright, taking content from another website, even if it's a couple of paragraphs is not only unethical but illegal, so don't do it. The other reason is that all the search engines are extremely good at spotting duplicate content, and if they find duplicate content on you site then be prepared to be penalised. Write from the heart, using terms you use on a daily basis and you'll be appreciated by your potential customers and the search engines, after all who knows your business better than you?