Should businesses write their own website content?
If you’re a business owner, you know your business best. Similarly, professional copywriters who specialise in writing for the web have specialist knowledge and skills (if they’re worth their salt).
If either party handles the copywriting for a business website in isolation, the results tend to be less than ideal.
This occurs surprisingly often. Business owners may tackle producing content themselves or even appoint junior interns to do so, regardless of real writing ability.
Writing is one of those things that everyone secretly thinks they can do. In truth, the ability to write well is rare. Also, even someone with good, basic writing skills doesn’t necessarily know how to write well for the web, taking factors like search engine optimisation and people’s online reading behaviour into account.
Copywriters take shortcuts too. Instead of getting on the phone, they may go ahead and produce web content without fully understanding what a business does or who its customers are.
The most effective website content depends on just the right level of collaboration between a business and a digital copywriting professional.
The importance of regularly publishing new and updated content
Google’s latest search algorithm prioritises frequently updated content. This means the content on your website needs to be fresh to secure the best possible rankings in search results.
Most static pages on a business web site don’t need constant updating. Instead, a regularly updated blog can help keep your website relevant.
Regular blog content also:
- helps establish your brand as an informative and trustworthy source of information, which leads to higher search engine rankings
- attracts organic traffic by providing answers to users’ search queries
- can help businesses secure links, which also boost site authority and rankings.
Find out more in our recent article about how a blog can help your business.
Guidelines for online writing
All the same principles that apply to good writing in other contexts apply to writing for an online audience too.
In addition, it’s vital to consider:
- how reading content onscreen differs from reading print
- how search engine algorithms “read” and rank content
- what information readers in your target audience want.
Structure content to allow easy scanning
Reading from computer screens is about 25 percent slower than reading from print. Also, research indicates that up to 80% of the time, people scan online copy for the information they want, rather than reading it in full.
If website content is easy to scan, it’s easy for people to find the information they want. This makes it more likely they’ll stay on your site, rather than leaving to find what they want on a competitor’s site.
Two simple guidelines for making content easy to scan:
- use lots of descriptive subheadings, with relevant keywords
- keep most sentences short and use short paragraphs.
It’s not just people who scan online content for specific information. Search engine algorithms do this too. Content that’s easy to scan, with plenty of relevant subheadings, tends to rank higher in search engine results. In turn, it results in more conversions (or sales).
Keep it short and simple
Long passages of text are off-putting, especially when presented on a computer screen.
Stick to simple sentences and clear, simple wording, and get to the point fast. Readers aren’t likely to stick around long enough to be impressed by sophisticated vocabulary or long-winded arguments.
Incorporate likely search terms
If you want search engines to pick up your content, you need to incorporate keywords and phrases that people in your target market commonly use in searches.
Do research before you start to identify high-priority keywords and phrases, given the nature of your business and what you know users in your market want or often ask about.
Incorporate a single, clear call to action
A call to action tells readers what it is you want them to do. What action are you hoping they take? For example, you might want them to click a button to order an item, contact your business or subscribe to a newsletter.
Don’t give readers too many options. Keep your call to action clear and simple, and make it as easy as possible for visitors to follow through.