Writing content for the web

There are many opinions in the marketplace over how to write content for the web, for the best user experience, and for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes.

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Online readers tend to be looking for specific information, and they want to reach that information as quickly and easily as possible. When writing content for the web you need to adhere to those requirements. At Jp our stance is simple - well written web content is already optimised for user experience and for SEO. We don’t recommend you try to write for SEO or try to retrospectively add keywords to content. All you need is concise, authentic and useful content.

So how do you go about writing content? We recommend bearing in mind a few principles;

Fast readers - Reading online is a different experience and people tend to scan read content. Formal text is more difficult to read, so use simple words, uncomplicated sentences and short paragraphs. Put important information at the top of the page, and use clear titles and graphics to support your story.

Adopt a journalistic approach to content - Start the article or page with the conclusion. Use unique titles, headings and sub titles. Elaborate on existing content, but don’t introduce new ideas. Review and reduce your article by 50% and put more detailed information into another article. This should help to keep the reader engaged.

Provide supporting evidence to the main content - This could be in the form of case studies, testimonials, detailed specifications, brochures or presentations. This offers the reader the best of both worlds, without overwhelming them. Link only to credible, authoritative sources. Use pictures and images that help tell your story (and not stock images). Highlight links to more detailed information.

What’s in it for me? Use headings to highlight content and headlines to summarise content, so the reader knows what to expect. Links should be descriptions of what the user will get if it’s clicked (i.e. not ‘click here’). Answer the reader’s question, ‘What’s in it for me?’.

Reading age and tone - Our overarching recommendation is to simplify your content. Review readability statistics, which tend to be built into your wordprocessing packages. As a rule of thumb, home page and summary information should be geared towards a reading ability of an 11 year old. General content should be aimed at a reading age of 14, and more detailed specifications and downloads written for an age 18 reading ability. Use the active voice (I, we, you) as this encourages ownership.

Cut the jargon - Stick to statements of fact and make them understandable, concise and readable. Explain what sets your company apart from others. Use case studies and pictures to put your product / service into context. Provide easily accessible contact details.

The above principles should help you to consider how you write your content for online purposes. The next step is to consider how to manage your content online, to ensure that content is up to date and stays current.

Steps to managing content online

Patch up your content

  1. Prioritise managing the content on pages with the most traffic
  2. Address pages with a high bounce rate
  3. Review new content before publishing (consider setting criteria for new content)

At Jones and Palmer we are passionate about telling your story. We highlight your key messages, structuring your content in the most appropriate way for your stakeholders and bringing that story to life using both creativity and the most appropriate medium - be it in print or digital. We’d love to talk to you about how we can bring your story to life!