Writing for the web is a skill.
Get it right and your readers will thank you by reading and sharing your content. Google may reward you too, by giving your site a better ranking in its search results.
Get it wrong and your readers could be confused or overwhelmed. They will leave your site without reading and Google could penalise you.
Make your content count and give it a chance to shine by following these 10 dos and don’ts.
✅ 5 Things to do
✅ 1. Break it down
There is nothing more off-putting to a website visitor than long, dense paragraphs of text. They are difficult to read on a screen — especially a phone screen.
Keep your paragraphs short and add a full line space between them rather than just indenting the first line.
And vary the way you present your content. Use paragraphs, bullet points, lists, charts, pictures and diagrams.
✅ 2. Use relevant headings
Use a relevant heading to introduce each section. That way your readers can skim read, or find the part they want to read more quickly.
Keeping your headings relevant to the themes of your content can also help to optimise it for a better search engine ranking.
✅ 3. Ask and answer questions
You may have noticed that when you ask Google a question, the first result you get is an answer. This also works well on virtual assistants, like Siri and Alexa.
You have more chance of ranking this way if you understand the questions your readers are likely to have and give plain, simple answers.
✅ 4. Write in plain English
Your online content should read well and make perfect sense. To achieve this, it’s best to write using plain English.
A clear writing style is easier for your human audience to understand and satisfies Google’s algorithms, which favour natural language.
✅ 5. Be consistent
The consistency of your writing style is important.
Businesses have seen their page rank drop when they have added words to their site that didn’t reflect the tone and quality of their existing content.
❌ 5 Things not to do
❌ 1. Rely on keyword density
If you’re not familiar with the term, keyword density involves repeating certain keywords and phrases a certain number of times in a piece of content. Its aim is to score higher in the search ranking for that word/phrase.
It’s a less offensive version of keyword stuffing, where people would stuff those words and phrases into their content as many times as they possibly could.
Thankfully, we moved on from this a long time ago. The search engines are sophisticated enough not to rely on it any more and you don’t need to either.
To get the best search engine results, you don’t need to force words into your content. Put your human audience first and just write naturally.
❌ 2. Use confusing layouts
Writing for the web is very different to writing for a paper publication. You have to allow for readers using different screen sizes and scrolling within the window.
This is why using columns and randomly placed text boxes is a bad idea.
Your content should be presented in a simple, logical order, so your readers know exactly what to read next.
A single column, broken into short paragraphs and headed sections is the easiest format to read. It’s also least distracting for your reader, meaning they will stay focused on what you have to say, rather than wandering on to something else.
❌ 3. Do something unexpected
Creating good content is like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for your readers to follow. It leads them exactly where you want them to go.
When they click on a link or call to action, they will already have a reasonable expectation of what they will find when they get there.
If you then surprise them, with something they’re not expecting to see, they may feel lost and you may lose them.
First, make sure all your links are working and going to the right pages.
Second, make sure there is a direct correlation between the link and the landing page to let your readers know they have arrived in the right place.
❌ 4. Make your content hard to read
Your content needs to be clear and legible, but it might not be if you’ve made poor design choices.
Choose a plain font that’s easy to read and make sure it’s large enough for the screen it will be displayed on.
Place your text on a clean, plain background rather than a busy photograph, texture or pattern.
And make sure there is a good contrast between the colour of the text and the colour of the background, so the text stands out.
❌ 5. Leave out your sharing buttons
People like to share things they find valuable. It makes them look good. And, if the content they’re sharing is yours, it makes you look good too.
Not only that, getting your content shared is a way to build valuable back links that are good for your search engine optimisation (SEO).
If you don’t include sharing buttons with your content, you could miss out.
Do you need help with writing content for the web?
I’m a UK copywriter who specialises in writing for the web.
I’ve been writing websites and online content for more than 10 years.
If you need someone to write for your website, or provide regular content for your blog, why not get in touch?
You can find out more about me and my services on the main pages of my website.