Your website is the digital face of your business, but are you putting the best foot forward?
Many different components go into creating an optimized and engaging website – design, graphics, navigation, etc. – but perhaps the most important is the quality of the writing. Even the best-looking or easy-to-navigate websites may not succeed if the written content is only a step above pure drivel.
Great content elevates your website on every single page, resulting in stronger landing pages, blogs, downloadable assets and more. What does high-quality website content writing look like? Keep these four important items in mind and you’re guaranteed to hit the mark every time:
1. What we talk about when we talk about website content writing
“I know, I know,” you may be thinking, “good content is just about plugging in a bunch of keywords throughout the website copy.” Wrongo, buddy. Although you should absolutely strategically mete out some well-researched keywords in any piece of written material, great content writing involves so much more than that:
Is it well-written?
SEO is often (erroneously) viewed as a numbers game, but content quality is a critical factor that Google looks at when determining search rankings. And the more sophisticated its algorithms become, the more important it is to have high-quality content on your website.
As Conductor’s Senior Director of Strategies, Patrick Reinhart noted in Search Engine Journal, the idea of a quick-fix SEO solution is a pipe dream. More than that, though, you can’t really fool Google’s algorithms anymore. So, while having a good keyword strategy is still important, it’s no substitute for high-quality content.
No one wants to read poorly written diatribes riddled with spelling and punctuation errors or incredibly dense landing pages that are total slogs to get through.
Moreover, you’re representing your company with whatever content you post on your website, whether it be a product page, news roundup or opinion piece from your CEO. Are you casting your brand in the best light, or making it look a little foolish?
Is it relevant?
Every piece of content on your site should be written with your specific audience and customer demographics in mind. That means infusing your writing with messaging that’s relevant to customer pain points, goals and concerns. Missing the mark when it comes to relevance can be devastating for marketers, no matter how good their website content is. If it doesn’t drill down right into the heart of matters that their audience cares about, that web copy will never gain much traction.
Do a bit of research and develop detailed customer personas to get a sense of who you’re writing for and what matters most to them. It may take a little legwork to complete, but it’s a great way to ensure that any content you produce is always on point and relevant to your audience.
2. What type of writer do you need?
Good writing often seems subjective, which is why so many companies have difficulty finding the right formula for hiring an internal writer or outsourcing jobs to a contractor. The options out there can be a mixed bag, so how do you sort through them all to find a writer who can create high-quality website content?
Check their writing background
Marketing, advertising, journalism, academic writing – it’s all the same, right? Wrong again. Each field requires different strengths and proficiency with different styles of writing. Does that mean that someone with a journalism background can’t be a strong content writer? Absolutely not, but it’s important to keep in mind that writing skills may not necessarily translate from one form to another. If a prospective writer only has experience in a particular area – let’s say, academics – you’re kind of rolling the dice that they can be dropped into the world of content marketing and succeed.
Ideally, your writer will have experience creating, you know, actual digital marketing content. The perfect candidate may be difficult to find – or prohibitively expensive to work with. The truth is that each of the previously mentioned writing fields offer skills that can be applied to content marketing. Academics, for instance, have a nose for research, making them adept at heftier pieces like white papers. Journalists know how to present material without a shred of bias, allowing them to build credibility with an audience. Marketers and advertisers know the ins and outs of brand messaging, giving your content the right voice and tone in every scenario.
The key is to build around those strengths to create a more well-rounded content writer who can balance all the demands involved in creating website content.
Check for industry experience
It’s just as important to work with a writer who has created content with your type of audience in mind in the past. Try to get as granular as possible, but don’t expect to necessarily find someone who has covered your specific market niche. Getting someone who’s already familiar and comfortable with your broader industry and its driving forces is quite the coup, so don’t get too greedy.
Failing that, you can pull from industries that are comparable in scope and reader sophistication. A writer with a background in fintech software development may not be completely up to speed on the finer points of health care technology, but odds are they’ll be able to figure it out. Both industries are concerned with similar pain points like regulatory issues, integrating emerging technology into legacy systems and providing high-quality services – even if the specifics are wildly different. If you can’t find the perfect match, it’s the next best thing.
3. Gear content for site visitors and your target audience
You have your writer in place, you’ve done your keyword research and you’ve sketched out some customer personas to target. All that’s left is to actually sit down and create your website content. How do you ensure that it grabs the attention of your intended audience, keeps them on the site and moving deeper onto other pages?
Start by identifying a key issue your target audience is concerned with – maybe it’s a pain point or challenge they deal with every day, or maybe it’s a disruptive force that’s poised to completely throw their industry into upheaval. Identify that kernel of a problem and work from there. Do you have a solution? Can you help companies address these issues better than other service providers? Do you have a key differentiator that makes your business more qualified than others to tackle these pain points?
That “so what?” moment separates great content from material that’s just OK. Even articles that reach Tolstoy-levels of quality will struggle to generate ROI if they fail to make a connection with the reader.
If you want to create content that’s easy to get into and offers a pretty breezy read, list-based articles are adept at quickly conveying points in a digestible package. How-to and question-based content are always en vogue as well, just be sure that you’re not setting up your audience with a false promise. If you base your entire piece of content on a question, be sure you answer it.
Keep landing pages on point
For landing pages, brevity can be your friend. Visitors want to get the quick hits-version of whatever message you’re trying to convey, so keep it like the dear, departed Verne Troyer – short and snappy.
Provide the answers your audience is looking for quickly and succinctly. If you make them hunt around for the information they want, there’s a good chance they’ll leave the site before they find it.
Site design and layout is important in this regard too. It should be fairly effortless for visitors to move from one page to the next and locate specific material they’re interested in. Individual pages should flow naturally and draw the eye to important bits of information that will be incredibly relevant to the reader. Although a lot of this will fall on the shoulders of your design team, content writers play a large role as well, in terms of formatting and creating web copy that helps guide the reader through the site.
For example, bullet points and numbered lists are extremely helpful for packaging a lot of numerical data into a more palatable format that’s easy on the eyes. Readers may skim over important statistics and research findings if they are crammed into a dense chunk of text. By spreading them out across a bulleted list, each data point can stand out and grab the audience’s attention. They’ll thank you for it, trust us.
Keep social media in mind
When creating website copy, writers should always be thinking about social media – that is, how will this content be shared across different social networks? If your social media team can’t effectively reuse web content on Twitter or LinkedIn to get more eyeballs on it, it’s going to have limited value.
Good website content writing plans around social media campaigns, creating material that can be easily shared and distributed across various channels. It includes snapshots of the content’s overarching message that can be easily pulled out and encapsulated in a 280-character tweet.
Content writers should always be striving to work in tandem with other marketing teams, and that means taking some time to refine web copy, blogs, case studies and anything else with other engagement touch points in mind.
4. Run content audits to check for quality
You may think you have great website content writing, but if you’re not seeing the kind of ROI you were expecting, something could be off.
How can you be sure that your website copy hits the mark? Run regular content audits to verify that every piece gets the right combination of quality, depth and relevance. You could theoretically do this all manually, but a far easier way to go about it is with a content marketing solution like MarketMuse.
These applications analyze individual pieces of content and generate content scores based on the quality of the writing and how comprehensively they tackle a given topic. So, if your blog overlooks a particular angle that would be very important and relevant to your target audience, MarketMuse will flag that for you. It’s a good method to verify that every piece of content your team creates checks all the boxes for quality and relevance.
There’s no silver bullet to improving site search rankings and you can’t game Google’s algorithms. What you can do, however, is commit yourself to great website content writing. Finding that perfect combination of quality, relevance and readability is guaranteed to improve your web pages’ rankings, increase organic traffic, keep visitors on your site and continue moving potential customers through the sales funnel.
That’s about as close as you’ll come to finding a magic formula for successful content marketing.