Writing for Websites

Making Good First Impressions

Popular wisdom has long maintained that first impressions are very important. For many if not most corporations, that first impression to the outside world is made by its website. As a website’s primary impression-producing assets are its content and its organization, it’s fair to say that the content and organization of the website are very important for creating a good first impression with viewers. A good first impression along with good organization and writing makes viewer engagement with the website much more likely.

Communicating with Words

Think about the objectives you have for your website. If your website is intended to promote your business, you should break it up into discrete pages that might be attractive to different groups of visitors. Some visitors are first-timers. They might want to know about the history of the business, the owners, and the people who they might be in contact with if they call. Most visitors also want to hear about your products and/or services, so one or more pages devoted to that would be appropriate. Other visitors are looking for resources, contact information, reasons to buy from you.

All the information you post to your website should be well organized and should flow easily from one sentence to the next. Think about the website from the perspective of the typical visitors you expect. Certainly people want to read about your products and services. They may also want to know why you do what you do, and how you do it. Think about how you might work these important aspects of your business into your website.

You may find that you don’t have the time to do great writing from the get-go. If that’s the case, try to at least get the structure right from the beginning. Then, over time, go back and improve the content bit by bit until it is an accurate reflection of who you are. If you take pride in your business, that pride should show through in your website, through its content.

Website Images

Many websites today contain a lot of images. Often, those same websites are light on content. The problem with image-heavy websites is that images do not engage the viewer. They might make a nice impression, but they don’t hold the viewer and draw them in. If a website is overly dependent on images, there is less reason for a first-time visitor to explore, or even return for more information, tips, announcements, engagement with a blog, etc.

While we’re on the topic of images, there are some which should be avoided under any circumstance. A good example is images that are automatically changing in front of the viewers eyes. If you’ve seen those websites, you’ve probably noticed that the movement of the images is very distracting. It’s the same on sites that load up with advertisements. Other bad images would be employee pictures that look like mug shots, or those that are blurry, poorly cropped, too small or too large. A good approach is to look at what others have done… see what you like, and use those to guide your choice of images.

If your objective is to get the site viewer to buy something, learn about something, or inquire about something, then make sure your site’s organization, writing, and images support that objective.

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Writing to Optimize Search Engines (SEO)

If your web site content is well written and well organized, your web site’s visitors will not only have a good first impression, they will also spend more time on your site.  The more time viewers spend on a web site, the better that site will perform in search engine rankings.  This is an observation made from experience, and from consideration of what search engine optimization (or SEO) software values in its guidance.

How search engines rank web sites is not completely clear because the search engines don’t publish their methods. Clues can be found in looking at what SEO software providers prioritize.  One of the top recommendations in SEO software is for publishing a minimum of 300 words per page.  Although this number may actually be somewhat arbitrary, someone reading 300+ words is bound to be spending more time on that web page than on a page with fewer words.

Of course, if the writing is uninteresting or poorly organized, the page viewer won’t spend much time on the page, and thus the page ranking will probably not improve.

A web site may also benefit in its SEO from repeat visitors.  Encouraging repeat visits is not something that SEO software can help with, but it does seem to have some effect with SEO rankings.  Whether or not having repeat visitors plays an important role in SEO, it is clearly beneficial to have people re-engaging with your content.

A good way to encourage repeat visits is to keep creating and posting new and worthwhile content so people will have more reason to come back.  Also an email newsletter with links to the web site provides the prompting when new content is added. If people click through to the site, the fresh content will hopefully hold their interest.  Of course, to do this it helps to have people sign up for the newsletter when they visit, and to give them good reasons why they should sign up.

Perhaps your web site could use some attention to its content, to help with SEO and to better engage your site visitors. If you could use some help with the writing and organization of your web site, please call or email.

By the way, this blog posting has 388 words in it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed every word of it!

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