The 3-Rs of Web Content

Mar06
By Amy Stillman, Web Strategist

Content. It can feel overwhelming and seem like a massive undertaking if you don't know where to start. Without its content, a website is just a pretty page. So here are some quick and easy strategies you can use when creating content for your site. Focus on these 3 goals and you'll set yourself up for success.

Content should be:

  1. Readable
  2. Reliable
  3. Relevant


Readable

In the web world, the formatting of your content is every bit as important as the content itself. Web is a scan medium and studies show that web users don’t actually read a lot of the content on webpages.

You can place the most compelling content on a page, but if it’s just a big block of run-on text, chances are you’ll see high bounce rates and low visit durations on that page. To avoid poor page performance, use these tricks to make your content readable and visually appealing.

  • Make content “skimmable”.
    • Use 2,500 instead of two thousand five hundred
    • Use bullet and number lists
    • Use headings to break up long blocks of text
    • Use short paragraphs and blocks of text
  • Give text blocks enough space. The spacing between words, lines, characters and paragraphs on your page is important. Sufficient space allows the reader to more easily scan the content for what they’re looking for.
  • Use the inverted pyramid writing style when writing content. This “top-loads” the page with the most important information. Put the relevant and key-word rich information first and gradually work your way to less important facts towards the bottom of the page.
  • Keep it consistent. Set up the CSS of your site or make sure you have your own style guidelines to keep the formatting consistent from page to page. Using different font colors, font sizes or header formats can quickly make a website feel messy, which decreases readability and can even undermine the reliability of your site.
  • Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. In Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”, he talks about how after he’s written a manuscript he goes back through and deletes unnecessary words. If that strategy is appropriate for novels, which are supposed to be descriptive and flowery, it’s even more true for web copy. After you write, read it again and make it as simple as possible.

Reliable

Your website represents your business. And the goal of your website should be to communicate expertise in your field or industry and create an overall sense that your business is reliable and credible. 
 
  • Slow down and proofread. Don’t assume you’ve made no mistakes before publishing or posting your content. Nothing undermines credibility like typos or poor grammar.
  • Keep it current. Update and refresh your content regularly. The world moves quickly these days and dated content can give the impression that you’ve fallen behind or aren’t keeping up with the times. There’s nothing wrong with keeping archives of old articles or blog posts, that’s great for the overall content of your site and for search engines, but make sure you’re continuing to add new content frequently.
  • Eliminate broken links. Make sure you’re on top of broken image or page links. If a user sees the red X of death where an image should be or clicks on a link within the content that goes nowhere, it immediately causes frustration and they are more likely to visit another site for their desired information or service.
  • Meet expectations. Don’t begin a section on your website like a blog and then abandon it. If you start of strong and get your users hooked, they begin to expect that content will continue to be available. So if you’re going to initiate something like a blog, commit to it 100% and make sure you aren’t letting your readers down by not maintaining it.


Relevant

You should expect people to initially land on any and every page on your website. Which means the content on that landing page should be related to the search engine result they clicked from and relevant to your overall business. 
 
  • Give pages a focused topic. Don’t combine too many ideas onto a single page. All the content should be related to the page headline and a focused topic or keyword for the page. This will also improve your search engine results, which I’ll cover more in an upcoming blog post.
  • Remember your audience. Keep in mind that you’re not writing for yourself. This can affect your tone and word choices. Knowing the audience you want to speak to can help you refine the nature of the content you publish, and keep it relevant to the overall goals of your business.
  • Make it easy. Don’t force your users to search a page for the key piece of information or call to action on the page. Don’t waste your time with buzz words or even marketing fluff. Keep your content simple and relevant to the goal of the page. Clearly outline the topic and the benefits your services offer to make them want to say, “Yes!”

Content

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