It’s a well-known fact when writing for the web that you have a 15 second window to catch the attention of the average user who will generally only read 28% of the words on any given page. That’s a very short timeframe in which to relay your message to your target audience … every second and word counts!
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working with a client to prepare guidelines for internal content creators to help them write effectively for the web. The main aim of the exercise is to help them talk to their customers and stakeholders in the right tone at the right level in the right language.
Is this something you do well on your website? If not, then here are some pointers on how to get it right:
- Understand your audience: The key to all communication is to understand the needs of the people you’re talking to, so do your research and plan a content schedule before publishing items online. If you need help on how to do this then read my last blog ‘5 tips on how to get to know your audience’.
- ‘Front-Load’ your content: This is essentially a means of conveying your key message within the opening paragraph, so you make your point from the outset. This allows users to quickly scan the page, understand the message and make the decision whether or not to explore your website and product / services further. Newspapers tend to use this style of writing to get their message across to readers.
- Answer the five W’s: The standard questions of Who, What, Where, When, Why apply when writing for the web. Who did it? What happened? Where did it happen? When did it take place? Why did it happen? If you can answer these questions then you know that your audience is receiving all the information they need rather than garbled messaging.
- Keep it short and simple: It’s really important to remember that users digest information in a different way when reading web pages, as they scan read. With this in mind, your content needs to incorporate the three C’s – it needs to be Clear, Concise and Correct.
- Never assume knowledge: Make sure you tell your audience ALL of the facts and never assume they know everything. For example, when writing an online biog for myself, I would write, ’Kathryn Dishman, Managing Director of KD Communications’ rather than ‘Kathryn’. I’m making it clear to anyone who doesn’t know me who I am and what my role is.
- Help people and search engines find your content: Organise your website so that it’s easy to navigate. You can do this by using hyperlinks to articles on your own website and to other helpful sites. Do keyword research to determine what keywords people are likely to use to find your content then use those keyword phrases throughout, paying particular attention to your article title, headings and your opening paragraph.
- Break it up: Large chunks of unbroken text is off-putting to readers so break up your text as much as possible. Use bullet points, sub-titles, different coloured fonts, images and other techniques to help break up the page and make it appealing for your audience.
Creating useful, usable content requires research, strategic planning and good web writing skills. If done well, your online content can help build your brand, attract prospective customers and win loyalty from your existing customer base.
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Do you need help creating online content for your business? Get in touch with KD Communications now by calling 07941694702 or email firstname.lastname@example.org