20 Sep Website content: a best practice guide
Website content is a valuable resource. Do it right, and you can inform your clients – both existing and prospective – and drive your site up Google’s rankings.
Bad website content can be bad for business: failing to inform customers, maybe even putting them off, and failing to grab Google’s attention.
What follows is a best practice guide to writing the best website content you can. We hope you find it useful, and feel free to get in touch with any success stories or queries. We love to talk shop.
Writing good website content
- Good content has to satisfy internet users’ desire for information: whether you sell socks or provide accounting services, always think about what visitors to your website are looking for and make your on-page content very relevant to this
- Good content must be shareable: linking is a huge SEO factor, and Google will take notice of your website being linked to by other sites, so make sure your content can be linked. Content that is only accessible to users with passwords is likely to be ignored by Google
- Good content can be a blog post, on-page news, a guide or white paper, a video, a picture or a sound
Promoting website content
The content on your website is the biggest factor in performance, and its quality drives how readers respond to it, but there are ways of tweaking your page to push it further up the search rankings.
Really, the rules below are about leaving Google in no doubt about the topics your content deals with.
- Keyword – establish what keyword or phrase you want to promote on your page – this should be the word or words most relevant to the subject your content deals with – and use this when creating the page’s metadata, which we will deal with now
- Titles – ensure your title is clear and contains the keyword
- URL – give your page a URL that will make its purpose clear; again, include your keyword in the URL using a “-“ to space words
- Make sure you have clear category hierarchies set up, helping Google understand what the page is about, for example: www.bradleysbikes.com/collections/surrey-rental
- Images – images make for good, readable website content, and using the keyword in the image’s Alt Text and its filename – i.e. cycling-shoes.jpg – will boosts its SEO power
Even if you have tweaked your metadata to perfection, there is more you can do to squeeze the most out of your website content.
- Make it unique – Google does not trust duplicate content, so cutting and pasting content from elsewhere could lead to it ignoring your page
- The other benefits of unique content are that it is bespoke to you and your services, and that it allows you to expand on the issues you believe internet users are most interested in hearing about, and that you perform best on
- Use your keyword – while Google will punish those who ‘stuff’ their website content with keywords, it is wise to use your keyword at intervals on your page
- If your keyword is actually a phrase, you don’t have to crowbar all the words in at once, you can split them up, though try to get it in in its entirety where you can
- Layout and look – make your page easily readable. There is more on website content and readability below
- Links – provide a link from the page to the relevant category and sub-category pages, as well as the homepage, which will almost always be your website’s logo at the top of the page
Website content readability
There are useful tools for gauging the readability of website content, but the truth is that readability is as much an art as it is a science.
Below we go through some general guidelines to write by. Sticking to them should make your pages as readable as possible, keeping readers’ attention, improving the chances of a positive response.
But first, some statistics.
- On average, new visitors to a site will spend just 30 seconds there
- On average, visitors to a site will read just 28% of the words on a page
Your website content, therefore, needs to be catchy, succinct and easily digestible. Here are some aids to achieving that:
- Font – use one that is easy to read
- Space – don’t cram your pages with text, leaving space in the margins and between blocks of text makes your content easier to tackle and will encourage visitors to read on
- Headings, bullet points, bold and italic – we skim most of the websites we visit, looking for the key bit of information we are after so use bold and italics to highlight keywords and particularly relevant information, and utilise headings and bullet points. These techniques encourage your readers to focus
- Break up text – headings and bullets help break up paragraphs that would otherwise lead the reader to lose attention, but you can go further by making sure that sentences and paragraphs are short. Many newspapers stick to the rule that a paragraph should only be a sentence long.
- Frontload content – newspapers also put their most noteworthy content at the top of each story, with the logic that readers should be able to get the gist of a story from the opening paragraph. With skimming such an issue for website content, you should follow suit, backing it up with supporting information further down
- Be punchy – on titles and headings, the first couple of words are key so aim to put your keyword here
- Links – don’t waste your links with a simple “click here” when you can create hyperlinks from descriptive phrases that include your keyword. Readers find it far less useful and Google will not pick up on what the page you are linking to is about, which is particularly important if you are linking to another page on your website
- Don’t be afraid to link out to other websites, as it will encourage your readers to trust your site
- PDFs – if you have a report or paper that is long, or contains graphs and other visuals that might lose quality when being moved across to a HTML website, link to it as a PDF. If you have a document that it only a page long, however, put it up on the website