Web Content is king they say. This has never been so true as it is when you are talking about web content. There is so much information available on the web these days that people expect information to be unique, timely and relevant. The content needs to be fast loading, clean and easy to read, easy to navigate and especially easy for the search engines to index.
This is the recipe for successful web content in a nutshell but getting from theory to reality is the part that most web sites miss. Going beyond the obvious — Good grammar, spelling and choosing a clean, clear typeface — there are many things that you can do to write quality content for your website. Here are a few to consider:1) Make your web content interesting.
Don't just provide dry information and facts. Make it lively and entertaining whenever possible. Sell yourself, your services or your product. Use humor and make yourself likable. Put yourself into your clients shoes and try to write your content as if you were trying to convince yourself to buy, sign-up, or request your own service. What would make you buy your product?2) Write about things and provide information that you know well.
Do it quickly and efficiently so you get your message across fast but also make quality use of the time someone is spending reading your site. If you try to cover a large topic in a mediocre or unconvincing way, people will probably not bookmark and return or even worse they many not even finish reading and move on.3) Keep your web content short and sweet when possible.
The first paragraph of your article is critical. If it's dull, boring and lifeless, your reader will surely move on. You must keep their interest right from the start and drive them to pick up the phone or pull out their credit card. On the web people like to get information fast and it better be good. Don't drone on for pages trying to sell and convince people. Give it to them straight and to the point and then if you feel that it might be beneficial to expand on your topic then do so. But never drag out a sales pitch. Allow your visitors to get the information they need and then if they want more you can always provide it.4) Make your web content load fast.
There is nothing more irritating than a site that loads slow. There are many reasons for this and the reasons can sometimes be out of your hands like the users connection speed, network congestion, slow host server, etc. But overall you and your web developer have control over your content.
First off, the way your web developer codes and programs your page is very important. At 168
we always try to code our pages so they use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) standards. To the non-literate web person this means two things. First, CSS allows you to accomplish more with less and reduce the amount of code on your pages. The less code, the smaller the page size. Second, CSS is the accepted standard in web design as compared to visual mark-up HTML tags that will soon be deprecated and eventually will no longer work.
People are much more able to digest content faster if the information is given to them in short bursts instead of long clumps of text.6) Do not use images to replace text.
They take longer to load, they really don't look much better, blind people can't read it and that text will no longer be searchable by the search engines.7) Only underline links and make sure you have actual links underlined
if the link is included in a paragraph of text. If you underline text to emphasize something but it is not an actual link, your readers will almost certainly be confused. The same goes for links that are not underlined. People may miss out on valuable information because they have no idea that the text leads to something more detailed or interesting.8) Structure your text.
Make use of bold headings, short paragraphs, bullet lists and tables if the information requires it. To better organize your thoughts, divide your article into sub-headings. Sub-headings make things easier to digest. Instead of tackling the entire article at once, try writing one paragraph at a time.9) Use words in your content that people will search for.
At 168, we provide a service that will help you with this aspect of your content development. Search engines consider headings, page titles, bold and linked text to be more important and relevant and the precise wording of these sections of your content are extremely important. Contact us for more details.10) Create a lot of links and use relevant keyword phrases as the link text.
Ask other sites with similar content to link to your site and most important, tell them the text to use in the link.11) Make good use of white space and allow your content to breathe.
Don't allow text to butt up against graphic elements on your site or photographs, etc. Don't place too much emphasis on your navigation elements if content is important to your site. Allow users to easily read your message in a clean, uncluttered and — in the case of blinking text — non-irritating environment.12) Write your own content.
Use only content (pictures, text, videos, ...) made by yourself or with explicit permission, everything else probably infringes someone's copyright.13) Check and double-check your content.
Use a spell-checker, and have someone check your texts for correct grammar. Some people are really turned off by those kinds of errors and it can cost you a potential sale or ongoing client. When in doubt hire a copywriter or even someone to proofread your own writing. You usually only have one chance to make that first impression and if you take your content seriously then a small investment in the services of a professional writer will be well worth your money.14) Try to avoid placing banners at the top of your page.
If you run a site that depends on advertising you might want to ignore this suggestion but for most sites, banners will instantly take your customers to another site other than your own and you will lose the sale. If you have to have banners or advertising on your site, limit the number of banners on your site to no more than two per page. One is ideal and try to make the advertising relevant to the content to add value.15) Promote your content.
The most important thing to remember is that content without promotion is well... just content. You need to get the word out that you have something important to say, get your site address in all of your advertising, get your site listed in search engines, write industry specific content that can be provided to other sites, and in general do everything you can to get people to your site where you do your selling. You can do a lot on your own but consider hiring a full time professional if your site is important to you. The money you spend will be returned ten fold (and I can guarantee it) if you follow the rules provided in this article.For more information:168MG ServicesGuide to Grammar and WritingA Blue Book of Grammar and PunctuationExploring EnglishSimpler Words And Phrases
Read more: http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/how-to-write-great-website-content/page-4/#ixzz1bOXm6z9R
Sure, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy to create great content. But can we actually get any customers with it?
Absolutely, but not if we take the usual blogger’s approach. Money doesn’t drop out of the sky just because we produce high-quality material. We need to put some time, thought and planning into the marketing
side of the content marketing equation.
And that means we need to think strategically about how different types of content contribute to the larger persuasion cycle.
Get their attentionEarlier in this series, we talked about the fact that every bit of content needs to be a tasty cookie that rewards your audience for consuming it.
So how can you attract a new audience to come find you? You need something bigger and more exciting than a cookie.
You need a birthday cake.
In other words, a piece of content that’s exciting, that feels special, and that tastes good. (It doesn’t hurt if it also has a great headline
Not only that, it has to show your potential audience that you know your stuff and that you solve a worthwhile problem. Otherwise they might enjoy scarfing down your content, but they won’t bother coming back for more.
White papers, special reports, extended tutorials, manifestos and viral video all make excellent birthday cakes. (If you want more ideas, you can find lots more here
Contrary to popular belief, you do
want marketing messages in your birthday cake content. But they have to be palatable, subtle messages. You’re not closing sales here . . . the birthday cake is just the beginning of the conversation.
Raise questions. Poke around at pain points that you can address in later content. Tell stories that resolve objections. But be subtle about it. The purpose of this content is to get your audience into a receptive state of mind before
they start hearing any overt sales messages from you.
Create interest and desire for what you have to offer, but don’t talk too much (if at all) about how you’re going to solve all your audience’s problems and make their lives wonderful.
If your birthday cake is compelling enough, your audience will stick around to find those answers.
And, of course, how does your birthday cake get in front of a new audience? By being remarkable enough to share. If it’s not good enough to link to, bookmark, retweet, and email friends about, it’s not good enough. Keep working on it, or partner with a content expert who can create something exceptional for you.
Converting attention to customersGood bloggers are fantastic at capturing attention, but sometimes we have a tough time knowing what to do with it.
The answer is to keep delivering compelling messages to our new audience, either using a blog, anemail autoresponder
, or both.
Here’s where you use content marketing fundamentals to start creating a commercial relationship. Obviously, you still deliver terrific quality. You teach and entertain more than you sell. You use metaphor, rhythm and vivid language to make your writing sing.
But you also use the techniques we teach at Copyblogger to create an audience of buyers, not just fans. You begin to call on your copywriting bag of tricks, adding more persuasive elements
to your writing.
You’re still keeping the selling under the radar at this point, especially if you’re using a blog to deliver your content. At this phase, you’re building your case, establishing trust, and increasing the intensity of your audience’s desire.
When you’re ready to take an order, send your loyal fan to a well-crafted landing page
. That page does the most explicit selling, with a killer offer
and a clear, direct call to action
There’s definitely an art to writing an effective landing page, but if you’ve primed your audience with a smart content strategy, the landing page doesn’t have nearly as much work to do.
How to be in the third tribeIf you don’t see yourself using the hard-sell, high-squeeze tactics of the traditional Internet marketing crowd, but you also don’t want to eat ramen noodles for the rest of your life as a “cool but broke” blogger, you can ignore those two tribes
and join what we’re calling the third tribe.
In the third tribe, we take the best elements from hardcore Internet marketing, but we deliver them with the passion, personal voice and credibility that the best bloggers have to offer.Content marketing is our tribe’s most important tool.
In fact, it’s the tool that defines
this tribe. Master it, and the game is yours.
Visit Copy Blogger at www.copyblogger.com
to discover how content marketing and web content writmakes all the difference.
Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco
When George Plimpton asked Ernest Hemingway what the best training for an aspiring writer would be in a 1954 interview
, Hem replied, "Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with."Today, writing well is more important than ever. Far from being the province of a select few as it was in Hemingway’s day, writing is a daily occupation for all of us -- in email, on blogs, and through social media. It is also a primary means for documenting, communicating, and refining our ideas. As essayist, programmer, and investor Paul Graham has written
, "Writing doesn't just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you're bad at writing and don't like to do it, you'll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated."
So what can we do to improve our writing short of hanging ourselves? Below, find 25 snippets of insight from some exceptional authors. While they are all focused on the craft of writing, most of these tips pertain to pushing forward creative projects of any kind.1. PD James: On just sitting down and doing it…
Don't just plan to write—write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.2. Steven Pressfield: On starting before you're ready…
[The] Resistance knows that the longer we noodle around "getting ready," the more time and opportunity we'll have to sabotage ourselves. Resistance loves it when we hesitate, when we over-prepare. The answer: plunge in.3. Esther Freud: On finding your routine...
Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don't let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won't matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.4. Zadie Smith: On unplugging...
Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.5. Kurt Vonnegut: On finding a subject...
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way -- although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.6. Maryn McKenna: On keeping your thoughts organized...
Find an organizational scheme for your notes and materials; keep up with it (if you are transcribing sound files or notebooks, don’t let yourself fall behind); and be faithful to it: Don’t obsess over an apparently better scheme that someone else has. At some point during your work, someone will release what looks like a brilliant piece of software that will solve all your problems. Resist the urge to try it out, whatever it is, unless 1) it is endorsed by people whose working methods you already know to be like your own and 2) you know you can implement it quickly and easily without a lot of backfilling. Reworking organizational schemes is incredibly seductive and a massive timesuck.7. Bill Wasik: On the importance of having an outline...
Hone your outline and then cling to it as a lifeline. You can adjust it in mid-stream, but don’t try to just write your way into a better structure: think about the right structure and then write to it. Your outline will get you through those periods when you can’t possibly imagine ever finishing the damn thing — at those times, your outline will let you see it as a sequence of manageable 1,000 word sections.8. Joshua Wolf Shenk: On getting through that first draft...
Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of "Lincoln's Melancholy" I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly.9. Sarah Waters: On being disciplined...
Treat writing as a job. Be disciplined. Lots of writers get a bit OCD-ish about this. Graham Greene famously wrote 500 words a day. Jean Plaidy managed 5,000 before lunch, then spent the afternoon answering fan mail. My minimum is 1,000 words a day – which is sometimes easy to achieve, and is sometimes, frankly, like shitting a brick, but I will make myself stay at my desk until I've got there, because I know that by doing that I am inching the book forward. Those 1,000 words might well be rubbish – they often are. But then, it is always easier to return to rubbish words at a later date and make them better.10. Jennifer Egan: On being willing to write badly...
[Be] willing to write really badly. It won't hurt you to do that. I think there is this fear of writing badly, something primal about it, like: "This bad stuff is coming out of me…" Forget it! Let it float away and the good stuff follows. For me, the bad beginning is just something to build on. It's no big deal. You have to give yourself permission to do that because you can't expect to write regularly and always write well. That's when people get into the habit of waiting for the good moments, and that is where I think writer's block comes from. Like: It's not happening. Well, maybe good writing isn't happening, but let some bad writing happen... When I was writing "The Keep," my writing was so terrible. It was God-awful. My working title for that first draft was, A Short Bad Novel. I thought: "How can I disappoint?"11. AL Kennedy: On fear...
Be without fear. This is impossible, but let the small fears drive your rewriting and set aside the large ones until they behave – then use them, maybe even write them. Too much fear and all you'll get is silence.12. Will Self: On not looking back...
Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceeding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in... The edit.13. Haruki Murakami: On building up your ability to concentrate...
In private correspondence the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated. I understand the purpose behind his doing this. This is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower. This sort of daily training was indispensable to him.14. Geoff Dyer: On the power of multiple projects...
Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it's a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It's only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I'm bunking off from something.15. Augusten Burroughs: On who to hang out with…
Don’t hang around with people who are negative and who are not supportive of your writing. Make friends with writers so that you have a community. Hopefully, your community of writer friends will be good and they’ll give you good feedback and good criticism on your writing but really the best way to be a writer is to be a writer.16. Neil Gaiman: On feedback...
When people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.17. Margaret Atwood: On second readers...
You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.18. Richard Ford: On others' fame and success...
Try to think of others' good luck as encouragement to yourself.19. Helen Dunmore: On when to stop...
Finish the day's writing when you still want to continue.20. Hilary Mantel: On getting stuck...
If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.21. Annie Dillard: On things getting out of control...
A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight... it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, ‘Simba!’22. Cory Doctorow: On writing when the going gets tough...
Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.23. Chinua Achebe: On doing all that you can…
I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it. Just think of the work you’ve set yourself to do, and do it as well as you can. Once you have really done all you can, then you can show it to people. But I find this is increasingly not the case with the younger people. They do a first draft and want somebody to finish it off for them with good advice. So I just maneuver myself out of this. I say, Keep at it. I grew up recognizing that there was nobody to give me any advice and that you do your best and if it’s not good enough, someday you will come to terms with that.24. Joyce Carol Oates: On persevering...
I have forced myself to begin writing when I've been utterly exhausted, when I've felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes... and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. Or appears to do so.25. Anne Enright: On why none of this advice really matters...
The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.
--How About You?
What great writing tips have helped you change your ways?
1. Work out what they really want.
Finding out what your customers want is the beginning and end of your marketing efforts. Get this right, and you can make mistakes with the rest of this list and still make sales. Get it wrong, and you will struggle no matter how well you execute the rest.
If you're a service provider working closely with clients, this is relatively easy - since clients will tell you about their problems, challenges, loves, and hates. They'll let you know when you're giving them what they want - and vice versa! So pay attention to what they tell you and use it to improve your service - and develop new offerings.
If you're selling products or artworks without so much interaction with your customers, it's a little harder but still doable. Take every opportunity to meet with your customers and talk to them - in 'real life' as well as via social media.
Working out what your customers want is an ongoing process that involves trial and error. Here are two questions that can help you get the answers faster:
2. Show them you mean business.
- Which products/services/artworks are my customers most enthusiastic about?
- What do they buy from your competitors that you could do better, or with an original twist?
When a new visitor lands on your website, what's their first impression? Does it look professional or amateurish? Up-to-date or neglected? Popular or obscure? No prizes for guessing which qualities are more attractive to buyers.
And do you make it obvious this is a business
website, where you want them to buy from you or hire you? They aren't mind readers, you know!Don't say: "Hi, I'm Rachel, welcome to my photography site, I hope you enjoy the pictures!"Do say: "Hi, I'm Rachel Reynolds, a photographer based in Boston. Welcome to my site - you can browse and buy my pictures in the gallery." 3. Make your offer crystal clear.
What do you want people to DO when they come to your site? 'Buy my stuff' or 'hire me' should be at the top of your list. Next up is to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, sign up for a free trial, or do something else that moves them closer to buying.
Make a prioritized list of these actions. For each desired action, you need to make an offer (invitation, call to action).
Particularly if you are selling a complex product or service, you need to make it clear exactly what you can do for your customers, and how it will benefit them. The more specific you are, the more believable your claims, the more of an expert you will appear.Don't say: "I'm available for portrait commissions."Do say: "I paint Vinyl Art, portraits of musicians and entertainers on vinyl records made by the subject. Instead of Elvis on velvet, think Elvis on an Elvis record." -http://vinylart.info/who.htm
At this point there's no substitute for professional standard copywriting. If you're a confident writer, teaching yourself copywriting skills could be one of the best investments you make. If you can't write for toffee, or hate the thought of penning a sales page, you should seriously consider hiring a copywriter.4. Show them how to buy.
If you're selling an artwork or product, explain how big it is, how much it weighs, how much it costs to ship, where you ship to, delivery times, your refunds policy, and what payment methods you offer.
If you're selling a service, give some idea how long it will take, what you will do, how you will do it, and what they will need to do. Yes, this will vary from project to project, but without some kind of roadmap, potential clients may be shy of contacting you - they imagine it will take months and eat up their schedule, whereas the reality may be very different.
Again, this is all obvious to you, but not to them. The more you tell them, the easier it looks and the more of them will buy. 5. To price or not to price?
If you're selling to private individuals, it's generally a good idea to display your prices. This is particularly true in the case of creative products and services - depending on the signature, a painting could cost $100, $100 million, or anything in between - and no one likes to risk looking dumb or poor by asking. Publishing your prices will reassure those who can afford it and filter out those who can't (without embarrassing them).
If you're selling services to small-to-medium-sized businesses, where the price can vary but you still want to reassure the right people that you aren't out of their league, you may want to consider offering packages at different price points
, or indicating arange of pricing
for typical projects.
If you're selling high-end services to corporates, luxury goods to the wealthy, or fine art to collectors, then it may well pay not to publish your prices. If they have to ask, they can't afford it, right?6. Use testimonials.
You may think testimonials look cheesy, but they wouldn't be so common if they didn't work. So why not make life easier for yourself - and your customers - by using something that works?
Ask your best customers for testimonials - you may be surprised how eager they are to help out. Get them to be as specific as possible about the benefits they received from doing business with you. Photos, URLs, and even videos will make the testimonials more credible and reassuring. 7. Promote a free subscription.
The brutal truth is that hardly anyone will buy the first time they land on your site. This is particularly true of sophisticated creative products or services - these purchases are usually not made on the spur of the moment.
So as well as making your sales offers abundantly clear, offer a free subscription - to your blog, your newsletter, your podcast, or some other form of communication channel that gives you permission
to stay in touch with them over time. Once they get to know, like, and trust you via the free samples and advice you send them, they'll be more likely to pick you when they're ready to buy.
It's no secret that email is still the most powerful online sales channel for most small businesses. So building a mailing list of people who have actively opted in
to receive your free content and sales messages should be one of your top priorities.
--What Works For You?
What has worked best for you in converting visitors to customers?
Which of these areas do you need to work on the most?
What would you add to my tips?
--Mark McGuinness is a coach who specializes in internet marketing for creative professionals. For a FREE 26-week creative career guide, sign up for Mark's course The Creative Pathfinder. And for bite-sized inspiration, follow Mark on Twitter here.