I was recently asked what my idea of perfect web content is. My answer: Something that evokes a reaction—whether it’s joy, surprise, or anger. As an emotional person, I’m a sucker for anything that makes me happy or makes me cry (for good reasons). But evoking emotion is not the only ingredient you need to make your web content work as a marketing tool.
Here’s how to create great web content.
Have a goal
Know what you want your web content to accomplish. Your landing page copy, for example, should give readers a reason to stay on your site, help them find what they need, and get them to take action to connect with you further. You might have other content designed to educate, persuade or entertain. Knowing what you’re trying to achieve is the first step to getting there.
Tailor it to your reader
Your web content should be designed for your target customer. You’ll be more effective if you write with a specific person in mind. This could be a buyer persona you’ve created or someone you know. Of course, most businesses have more than one type of target customer, so be sure to create web content for each of them. For example, if you own a roofing business, your customers might include commercial, residential, and rental property owners, all of whom have different interests and needs.
Make it useful
Good web content provides something of value. One of the best ways to come up with ideas for web content is to answer the most common questions your customers or prospects have. Using our roofer example, you could create web content such as “5 Signs Your Roof Needs Replacing,” “How Often Should I Get My Roof Inspected?” or “How to Save Money on a New Roof.” Checklists, quizzes, or lists of questions and answers are great ways to provide useful information.
Catch their interest
Use headlines, subheads, and captions in your web content that clearly show what the content is about and what benefits people will get out of reading it. You can use images and design elements to attract attention, too. Visuals are just as important as words when it comes to web content.
Follow SEO principles
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to attracting customers online. Incorporate the keywords you want to be found for—but don’t go overboard. A site stuffed with keywords in every other line looks obvious and will get penalized by search engines. You can find keywords using the Google Keyword Planner or the Bing Keyword Research Tool. Use keywords in your body copy, headlines, subheads, meta descriptions, and tags.
For a small business, it’s a good idea to focus on long-tail keywords (those with three or more words that are specific to what people might be searching for on your site). These keywords generally have less competition online. Check out these tips on how to find SEO keywords and read Google’s SEO Starter Guide.
Keep it simple
People are busy and don’t have time to read long, drawn-out web content. Make it captivating, succinct, and easy to read by using short paragraphs, lots of subheads, and bulleted or numbered lists. (This also makes it easier to read on a phone.)
Aim to keep your web content at or below a sixth-grade reading level. Everyone appreciates simple writing, and you’ll get your message across to a wider audience. Hemingway Editor is a free online tool you can use to check your writing’s grade level and get tips on improving general readability.
Build your brand
Web content should be written in your brand voice. Not sure what that is? Think about your business brand. A fun, informal brand like a dog-sitting service will sound different than a serious, buttoned-up brand like a law firm. The main goal is to keep your web content sounding consistent.
Your website’s goal is to get people to do business with you, so make sure every piece of content gives them a reason to do so by including a call to action at the end. For instance, your blog post on “How Often Should I Get My Roof Inspected?” could end with an offer like “Get a free roof inspection! Call xxx-xxx-xxxx to schedule your appointment by September 30 and receive our 10-point roof inspection ($79 value) for free.” You can also motivate readers to take more general actions, such as getting in shape or going green, that will help them achieve a goal aligned with your business.
Use your website to enhance your web content
Your website supports your content, like the frame to a picture. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. Mobile phones now account for almost half the time people spend online, so chances are good customers are viewing your web content on a tiny screen. Simple text with lots of breaks will help make it readable. Use mobile-first design to create a site that’s easy to use on any device. Finally, since users won’t stick around for a slow website to load, make sure your site is optimized for speed.
Amplify your web content
Give your web content a life outside your website by sharing it on social media and in your email marketing. Link to your website in your email signature line and include your URL on all your printed marketing materials. Always include share buttons on your content so your readers can easily pin, post, and share with friends. The more places you promote your web content, the more people will see it (and act on it).