The write stuff
Tuesday 15th August 2017
You've got a beautiful website with captivating images and stylish graphics - but what about the words? Having a Content Management System means you can add whatever words and images you like to your website... but with great power comes great responsibility!
Here's a quick test: would a complete stranger understand what your site is and does from the title and first paragraph of your home page?
For the vast majority of websites, the primary purpose is communication. If visitors don't receive your message loud and clear, you might need to rethink the text on your website. Not everyone has the skill and experience to write website content in a succinct, easy-to-read and engaging style - particularly complex or technical information - so consider working with a copy editor or marketing company that offers this service.
Typos, bad spelling and grammar let you and your website down and can be easily avoided. Install a spelling and grammar check in your browser. We love Grammarly which highlights spelling and grammar suggestions on all input fields, so you can use it in any form including a Content Management System. Alternatively, draft your content in a word document and use the spelling and grammar checker in that, or ask a friend or colleague who's picky about punctuation to proofread your web pages.
If you've identified keywords that people might use to search for your website, make sure they are used in headings, in meta data like page title and description, and check their density (how often they appear on a page). There are many online keyword density tools available.
However, don't lose sight of how your page will read to humans as well as search engine bots. It should be clear, natural English (or whatever language you're writing in). People tend to have a less time and shorter attention spans when reading websites compared to relaxing with a printed newspaper, magazine or book. They want text to be brief and to the point. Take a leaf from well-written online news sites and keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
One search engine tip which helps humans, as well as your Google rank, is improving link text (the words that you click on in a hyperlink). Accessibility guidelines state that link text should be informative and make sense out of context, so people using screen readers can understand them. The link should also be easy to click on, so avoid short, meaningless links like "click here", "here" or "link". For readability and friendliness, use descriptive links for web addresses rather than the URL itself e.g. a guide to writing web content rather than https://www.iteracy.com/blog/post/writing-website-content
Finally, a personal gripe. We'd like to suggest one phrase that should drop out of use altogether on websites, email newsletters and basically anything that is not printed: STOP PRESS. Calls to action are great but this kind of idiomatic reference is blunt and anachronistic. Will readers understand the intended meaning? It's better to use clear, specific language which your visitors will recognise and respond to. Technology is moving so fast that it's easy to forget there are many, many people who do not remember the historic technology and analogue processes that many of our everyday phrases, icons and symbols are based on!
If you spot any typos in this blog, be sure and tell us ☺