Since our last post about web content writing tips was one of the most popular we've ever written, we decided to share a few more. As we've mentioned a time or twelve before, having excellent copy on your website is one of the most important things you can do for your business — your web content is like the ambassador to your company. Is it clean, neat and conversational? Or is it laden with errors, poor formatting and weird text? Is your web content representative of you and your company? If not, it's time for an overhaul.
Error-free copy is one of the best free online PR tools at your disposal, even if developing the content takes some time and effort. Plus, shareable blogs are an important aspect of content marketing efforts. Good copy will help you get backlinks and make people trust your company more (after all, who wants to give their credit card number to a business that can't tell the difference between there/their/they're or puts unnecessary apostrophes in plural words?).
When you're writing web content, keep these things in mind:
- You should always start with keyword research for SEO. TCF's site gets over a $250,000 worth of organic traffic each year (as in, we'd have to spend more than a quarter million dollars in AdWords to get the same traffic). The reason why our content is so successful? Keyword research. We don't always write keyword-based posts, but when we do they tend to rank well. If you don't know where to get started, here's a killer how-to guide for keyword research – including which tools we use to get the job done, and how to use them to achieve your own results.
- Web site vs. website vs. web site. Which one is it? For the love of all things awesome, it's website (at least, so says the AP Stylebook, which is sort of like a web content writer's bible). Not Web site, not web site and not any other variation you can think of. Although "Web site" was once acceptable, it's sort of like referring to your Blackberry as a "cellular phone" — it makes you look just as old, dowdy and out of touch with technology. As far as we're concerned, using "Web site" instead of "website" is the content writing equivalent of whipping out a Zach Morris-esque cellular…and it's about as cool.
- Dictionary.com is your friend — so visit the site often. You'd be amazed at how many words people misuse on a regular basis. For instance, peruse probably doesn't mean what you think it does (in fact, it's probably the opposite). Never use words unless you're absolutely certain of their meaning, it'll just make you look ridiculous.
- Don't call a banana an elongated yellow fruit. Don't use a $3 word when a 10 cent word will suffice, unless you're going for the "most pretentious web content writer" award. If that's what you're after, I suggest throwing around the terms "thought leader" and "synergy" around a lot — and be sure to use/make up any other buzzwords you can come up with. Overuse of meaningless buzzwords is a good way to show that you have an MBA, but a bad way to keep the interest of your readers.
- Never self edit your work (at least not right away). Ideally, you'll have somebody to edit your writing. If you're responsible for writing and editing your web content, don't do both in the same day. When the writing is still fresh, your mind will automatically make up the gaps in your copy and your editing will be subpar. Instead, put it away and come back to it another day — or at least several hours later.
- Keyword stuffing is never okay. Want to make it seem like English is your fourth language? Stuff keywords into your copy, and make sure they're awkward and/or grammatically incorrect. The SEO keywords you incorporate into your web content should sound natural, not spammy.
- In the battle of email vs. e-mail, which one wins? As of right now, it's still e-mail. One day, the AP Stylebook will probably change it to email (we're counting down the days!), but until then the hyphen stays. UPDATE: The AP Stylebook changed it to email, but only because so many people were using email instead of e-mail…sort of like a "popularity rules" thing for the inaccurate. The New York Times isn't bowing to the pressure, however, and has decided to keep it e-mail.
- Always hyperlink to your sources. When you reference another website's content, make sure you hyperlink back to that site. Otherwise, it's sort of akin to stealing — in the world of professional web content writing, it's a big no-no. Always cite your sources, even if you're afraid it'll send your web traffic to another site — and you can always choose the "open link in another window" option if you're that concerned about keeping your traffic. Besides being the right thing to do, it can also help you get backlinks. Frequently, the sites you link to will see your effort and thank you for it with a reciprocal link or quote — like the Hootsuite blog did with us a couple of weeks ago.
- "Do's and Don't's" vs. "Dos and Don'ts" — which is correct? The latter! Nothing drives us crazier than people putting apostrophes in pluralized words. If there were two of me standing in front if you right now, there would be a pair of Karis — and they'd both be saying that misused apostrophes are the bane of good web content writing.
- If you're not sure, look it up. You'd be surprised at how much you teach yourself when you consistently look up things you aren't sure about. We learned most of this stuff by double checking the words/grammar/spelling/etc. we weren't sure about. It takes a little time at first, but if you make a habit of not having to double check the same thing twice you'll be an expert in no time. Then, you can write your own blogs about web content writing tips!
With enough discipline, solid web content writing skills are within anyone's reach. Having excellent copy on your website is one of the easiest ways to grab the attention of new visitors (and keep them coming back for more — or better yet, sharing your links). Want more web content writing tips and tricks? Check out or Web Content Writing 101 post, or shoot us an e-mail with your questions and we'll get back to you.
Does website content seem too complicated to tackle on your own? You can always outsource website content to us – we even have transparent pricing, so you can see what our rates are before having to get on the phone with us.