Whether your company is looking to build exceptional content to solidify its brand with existing clients or to drive new traffic to its website through SEO and other strategies, content remains king.
As more and more websites turn from simple advertising fronts to deep and thoughtful content sources, content for websites has to be better than ever before. At the same time, the advanced language parsing technologies in the Google Hummingbird search algorithm are helping Google searches find exceptional content instead of just identifying keyword strings. With this in mind, here are seven tips that can help you write web content that stands above the competition:
1. Share Stories, Not Information
While your readers visit your website for information, relatively few people are excited by numbers and dry facts. Positioning your content as a story or, at a minimum, including stories in your content will help to retain your reader's attention and make your content more effective. It can also make content for websites easier to read, which is also helpful.
2. Talk To You (Not Him)
If you can't write content for websites that is truly personalized for each user, settling for second person can bring many of the same benefits. You is one of the most powerful words in the English language because it draws the reader into the content by directly addressing him. Third person writing using "he" and "she" creates a linguistic wall between you and the person on the other side of the screen that might seem more professional but can also be less compelling.
3. Research Compulsively
Depth is an important part of creating exceptional content for websites. If you're an expert in your field, your knowledge can be a great starting point. Going even deeper into academic journals, obscure blogs, or out of print books can give you unique information that no one else has. This kind of content can turn your site into a true destination instead of just being a site that is little bit better than everyone else's.
4. Speak English, Not Jargon
When you're creating content that goes deep into your area of expertise, it can be easy to lapse into your industry's language. The jargon that helps you communicate about complicated concepts with your colleagues in a comfortable and efficient way has an unintended consequence when it comes to your audience. It places a barrier between you and them, making it harder to form a relationship that can lead to future business.
5. Speak English, Not Writer
While you're at it, realize that while you might love writing, your reader has a need that he is visiting your site to fulfill. It's natural for writers to play with language, include in-jokes for people at their company, or add puns to their pieces. However, the audience for most web copy isn't looking for cleverness for its own sake. They're looking for answers so that they can move on to their next need.
6. Be Interesting
Exceptional web content doesn't just share information in an efficient way. It shares it in an interesting way. Letting your personality come through can help this happen, as can adding compelling images. While cleverness for cleverness' sake isn't always a good idea (see #5), some humor can help draw in readers. Controversy can also be a powerful tool. Web-friendly formatting -- like creating numbered lists and breaking up text with headers -- can also save your audience from feeling like they are slogging through a long block of text.
7. Create Next Steps
Exceptional content for websites doesn't stand on its own. After answering the reader's question and providing context and insight, it continues by sharing actions that the reader can take. In the industry, this is called a call to action. For instance, a piece on how to write web content might encourage the reader to click through to compelling pieces of content that serve as examples. It could also invite the reader to look into hiring writers that are experienced in creating content for websites. (see?)