Content creation is central to a website that pulls in and retains audience attention, while also being easy for web users to find through effective search engine optimization (SEO). Website copy includes any of the text found on a website, from its home page to the “About” section and the organization’s contact information.
Businesses have a special responsibility to host well-edited, structured and informative copy that engages and educates site visitors. Although SEO is often the focus of content creation literature and advice, Google recommends making web users your first priority. In fact, search engine algorithms favor high-quality original content that is more likely to benefit web users.
Quality website copy with well-executed SEO measures can have a positive impact on revenue. Increased web traffic has been shown to boost sales leads. According to Marketing Sherpa, organic traffic converts to leads at a 16 percent rate on average.
Whether you’re writing for a new website or editing older copy, I have compiled a set of tips for professional content creation to boost visibility, user experience and marketing reach.
9 Content Creation Steps for New Websites
Initial drafting stages are an opportunity for your business to refocus its branding through content creation.
Your website should be ready to serve as the first point of contact for new and potential clientele. If your company’s branding is on full display with details stating the features and benefits of its services, you’ll be better equipped to reach potentially busy, distracted visitors.
For those very early on in their web design process, this Three Girls article provides advice on getting your business’ web presence off the ground. Once your website is built, it’s time to prepare text and graphic content for its individual pages. Content creation – from visuals to SEO – is both an art and a science. If you are just getting started, follow these steps to fill in blank space on your new domain.
- Create a list of principles that set your business apart
Think about the company’s origin story – what inspired the founders to share their concept with the world? Also, think about achievements and landmarks over the years. What is exceptional about this business that shapes its consistent delivery of quality?
2. Decide on 1-3 calls to action for site visitors to follow
According to The Daily Egg, calls-to-action (CTAs) are prompts that encourage people to take a specific action after arriving on your website. They may urge people to visit your online or brick-and-mortar store, take advantage of offers or provide their contact information. Rank CTAs from most to least important to determine where and how they will be used in your web copy. Your top CTA should drive sales most directly and appear prominently on your home page.
3. Choose fonts and colors to represent your business
This is an opportunity to get creative with content creation! Knowing your guiding style principles early in the process saves work later while establishing a platform for the overall vision for your content. If you have a working logo, find fonts and colors that reflect its text and graphic style. At minimum, choose a primary typeface for titles, and a secondary font for body text. Concerning color palettes, most businesses use a mix of bright colors and neutrals to set the stage for a website that balances visually-engaging aesthetics with professionalism.
4. Designate a purpose for each page with SEO in mind
Review your list of principles and calls to action. Decide on what basic information and resources you want hosted on your website. Organize these items or ideas under page subject headers. If you are working with a web designer or programmer, make it a priority to actively communicate with them about anything that requires their expertise, such as page creation, deletion or menu development.
A typical business site may include the following pages:
- Home – an inviting landing page that provides basic information and guides traffic to other parts of the website
- Contact – welcome visitors to contact your locations, digital team and help resources; include links to your social media resources, event calendar and newsletter sign-up.
- About Us – tell your company’s story here, emphasizing your team and your mission
- Services – depending on the breadth of services you provide, offerings may be centralized on one page or sorted into various pages for types of services
- Blog – this is a place where your company can capitalize on its industry knowledge by sharing expertise in written form
- Portfolio/Client List – although not obligatory, showing off the work your team has done, or the clients you serve, demonstrates what you have to offer to potential customers
- News, Press Releases and/or Testimonials – share internal developments as well as what others are saying about your company in one convenient place
Adopting the perspective of potential visitors’ ‘ improves future web user experience as well as SEO.
5. Select keywords for each page
Keywords are terms that web users put into search engines to find resources. When choosing keywords, try to imagine what someone might search to find your business’ website. Placing keywords throughout web copy is the first step to incorporating SEO into your page drafts. While keywords help guide traffic to your site, CTAs guide visitors to interacting with your company by prompting sales, consultations, content consumption and inquiries.
6. Account for skimming and attention spans
Attention spans for digital content currently average eight seconds and are rapidly decreasing. Content creation needs to address the likelihood of audiences skimming for main points and deciding to dedicate more attention to details based on what they glean from brief glances. Clear topics of discussion, bulleted or numbered lists and logical overall organization of the subject at hand can help account for inattentive reading while making your website easier to navigate for readers willing to explore further.
7. Use both inbound and outbound links
Linking between pages on your website (inbound links) and to outside sources (outbound links) can enrich visitors’ experience without the need for excessive explanation or repeated content. Repeating the same content from page to page results in lower search engine rankings, while varying content that includes credible link sources increases SEO.
8. Embrace collaboration
Do you have a team member who is talented at writing, graphic design or editing? Someone who knows your company well, like a current employee or consultant, is an ideal partner in content creation and editing.
9. Tying it all together
Once you have a complete outline based on your website map with style ideas and link resources, court input from potential collaborators. If you’re comfortable drafting text for your website, one or more peers within your organization might help edit. It’s wise to have at least two collaborators review each piece of copy created, aside from the original author, before content is published.
Content Creation Tips: Editing Your Website Copy
Careful review of your copy within the context of your company’s website is a crucial step in content creation.
You don’t have to be a professional writer or SEO expert to make your website more accessible. Whether you’re editing a new or long-standing website, aim to balance simple language and clear layout with diverse, engaging content.
When reading through draft text, note areas where phrasing is especially dense or complex as well as instances of phrase repetition or dry verbiage. Mark sections that need improvement from a user experience point-of-view for editing. Review your copy using this list of tips to strengthen problem areas.
- Cut your word count without skimping on information: According to Forbes, professional editors strive to deliver their message in as few words as possible. One way to reduce word count during content creation is to utilize hyperlinks where a concept needs extra explanation, or where a term refers to something explored on a different page of your website. Also, tighten up the flow of ideas using well-placed titles and subheadings followed by numbered or bulleted lists wherever possible.
- Reduce unnecessary jargon: Although useful in written materials that relay industry expertise, technical jargon can create audience confusion and other barriers to getting your message out. Also, many words have different meanings for professionals compared to laypeople. Use shorter, more common synonyms wherever possible, and briefly explain technical terms when they’re unavoidable.
- Eliminate indirect phrasing and passive voice: Do you use past tense where present tense could communicate the same thing? Do you see complex action phrases like, “To have been started,” or, “Is going to be done,” throughout your copy? Make it a practice to use as few verbs, or action words, to communicate each statement – even if it means breaking one idea into two sentences. An easy way to write copy that reads in a more direct and active voice is to write one sentence to introduce or establish a topic followed by another that expands upon that topic.
- Diversify the phrasing and framing of your calls to action: Experiment with ways you can incorporate CTAs into your copy, using at least one per page. Change up how you deliver your message throughout the website’s copy to favor improved SEO, vivid language, visible placement and higher customer conversion rates.
- Use colorful language as often as possible: Now that your copy is both more structured and minimal, locate generic or nonspecific words like “good,” “great” or “important.” Replace them with appropriate, descriptive terms that demonstrate your company’s competence and earned reputation.
- Break up blocks of text with formatting and media: Keep paragraphs short and vivid. Bold, italicize or colorize (very selectively) special terms you want your audience to focus on. Look for opportunities to incorporate images or videos where further illustration is desirable.
Enhancing SEO in Website Content
SEO encompasses a set of practices that make it easier for web users to find your website by boosting its ranking in search engine results.
Although SEO should be part of website design from the beginning, established website copy can easily be retooled to better attract search engines. Many content creation strategies explored in previous sections of this article improve search engine ranking indirectly while boosting the overall quality and success of your company’s website. However, certain strategies primarily target SEO rather than optimal user experience or higher sales numbers. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Make sure you’re using keywords roughly every 100 words: According to Shout Me Loud, creating web copy that is about 10 percent keyword-based raises a page’s search engine ranking significantly. Keyword usage should be as natural as possible within the progression of the surrounding text.
- Incorporate custom quality media, like photos and videos: Behind-the-scenes images, tutorial videos and pictures of your team will not only enhance the user experience of your website, but also the SEO ranking with unique content. In fact, websites that include video media receive between two and three times more traffic than those that do not, according to Wordstream.
- Double-check branded language for correct spelling and usage: This is especially effective for improving the probability of people searching specifically for your company’s site. Think of your company name and any brand-associated phrases as primary keywords that appear throughout your entire website.
- Schedule blog entries or content updates consistently: According to Pronto Marketing, consistent posting trains search engines to rank your blog (or other page) higher based on newly-published, and thus more relevant, content. If Google’s bots have learned what days and times you update, they are more likely to list your updated page towards the top of search results.