Building inbound links is essential if you want to improve your clients’ website ranking in search, and it has the added advantage of making the site less dependent on Google’s unpredictable algorithm updates. But how exactly do you encourage others to link to your client’s site? By publishing quality information that’s grammatically correct and doesn’t sound like marketing speak, and which uses web writing that grabs the reader’s attention.
Essential Tip 1: “Hallelujah” Headlines
The headline is the first thing your reader sees, so you have to make it good. I’m a great fan of Jon Morrow, and his Headline Hacks is still one of the bibles of online copywriting, in my opinion, but the examples listed are growing a bit stale now. Sure, readers still go for the “how to” and list headlines, but the warning/shocking/risk thing is lately being seen as a bit over the top.
I’m seeing better results from more positive, informative headlines that tell the reader what they can expect to get from the article. I like to call them Hallelujah headlines—something like Oprah’s famous “Aha” moments—that ring a clear bell with the reader. Like the title of this post. for example. Readers also like straightforward headlines more than funny or cute ones, according to research by the Nielsen Norman group.
Essential Tip 2: Scanability
The study on eye tracking also shows that the majority of online users scan-read a page, and only a small percentage read the full text. That makes it necessary to get the message across in a “scannable” way.
Users are drawn first to headlines, summaries and captions before they look at images, and the use of subheadings, bullets and numbered lists in your web writing help to break up the text into chunks and reduce information overload.
Essential Tip 3: Visual Appeal
Readers might see text before they see images, but a solid page of copy without any visual appeal is likely to have them voting with their virtual feet and leaving in haste. And they definitely aren’t going to be linking to it!
Every piece of web writing should contain at least one image that’s vibrant, engaging and expands on the content of the text.
Essential Tip 4: Use the Right Voice
The Internet is an informal medium, and in most cases it’s best to use an informal tone. Compile a detailed reader persona based on solid market research so you can produce copy that speaks to your target audience in language they understand.
I have a client who is a medical specialist, who insists on using terminology that can only be understood by readers with medical degrees. And then he wonders why his traffic is low, when he’s targeting potential patients with “dry and dusty” technical-speak!
If your web writing is aimed at business people you can use a slightly more professional tone, but stick with plain language and let some of your personality shine through to liven it up.
Essential Tip 5: Include Facts and Figures
Readers love numbers, because they usually represent factual information they can count on. So not only will they get attention, but when you’re link building most sites will prefer to link to a source rather than regurgitate statistics. And because they draw the eye, using numerals instead of words attracts the reader, improves scannability and helps SEO indexing. Use interesting facts and figures, cite your sources and include them so they are easy to spot.
Of course, there’s always more to web writing than I’ve covered here and your information needs to be authoritative, your wording effective and your finger on the pulse of your client’s industry. But those things still aren’t going to get readers’ attention if your posts are badly presented. Following these tips will.