Is your Website really communicating effectively to your target viewers? Is it delivering the results you want? Are you losing viewers and sales? The crucial importance of good content writing for effective Websites is often over-looked…

You need effective text content for your Website to cut through
Have you noticed some Websites that have nice graphics and functionality…but their professionalism and credibility are let down by the text content? Nick Usborne, speaker and author on writing for the Web, says “Go to your favorite Web site, strip away the glamour of the design and technology, and you’re left with words – your last, best way to differentiate yourself online”. Graphics and layout are really important for first impressions but the text content has the final say on a Website’s effectiveness…it holds the information you’re seeking or convinces you to buy something.

What are common problems with Website text content?
In the technological world of the Internet, the discipline of good old-fashioned writing quality is often overlooked. Elements of poor spelling and grammar, vague or confusing waffle, complicated verbose language, and disjointed sentences are quite common. Business owners know their own products and services, but can’t always communicate them effectively to others. Also Web design companies, though usually well trained in graphic design and programming, may lack skills in content writing and general communication.

So what does Website text content really need to achieve?
Effective communication is needed for a Website to inform, instruct, or sell to its target viewers in their own ‘lingo’.

•Concise and to the point
Viewers generally browse Websites somewhat impatiently, in contrast to printed material where they are happy to relax and read more at length. So, to hold attention, Website content generally needs to be concise and to the point. This is even more so for email newsletters. Longer text does have a place, however, where viewers are looking for detailed information or need to be convinced of something, e.g. a captivating real-world story-line to sell a product.

•Accurate and realistic claims
Text needs to be accurate and realistic versus exaggerated hype, like “best offer in town” or “unbeatable value”, which only raises doubts for many people.

•A personal touch
Content written in a personal one-to-one manner can be effective to build trust and rapport, versus an impersonal ‘broadcast to the masses’. Encountering real people and places builds credibility with a viewer. Remember the old adage…”people do business with people”…particularly for services more than commodity products.

•Meaningful headings
Meaningful headings are important for viewers to be able to scan quickly to get the gist of your message, rather than having to wade through lots of text to find information they need. Hierarchical headings based on relative importance really help to guide a person’s eye directly to the most important information first – a general principle of design. In a busy world of information overload, a simple clear format is more effective than busy clutter. Many Websites, even for some high profile companies, have so much information on the screen that you don’t know where to look first.

Highlighted text can be used to attract viewers’ eyes to something you want them to notice. The text itself can be highlighted or a colored background or surrounding box used to bring attention. If too many things are highlighted, then nothing will get special attention…as they say “having too many priorities is no priorities”.

•Benefits versus features
An objective outsider can sometimes write more from a customer’s viewpoint than a company and may see unique selling points the company hasn’t seen themselves. Content needs to convey customer-oriented benefits more than company-oriented features…a general sales and marketing principle. What car buyer cares about double overhead cams or alloy wheels unless they know these mean greater fuel efficiency and acceleration?

•Optimization for search engines
Optimization of Web pages to attract search engine traffic relies much on the text content, requiring a few focused key words and phrases in the body text, headings, links, and page titles. Lots of articles that provide useful information on your site can draw search engine traffic, if sprinkled with key words and phrases. Links from other Websites, especially using those same keywords, will raise your site’s profile too.

•Clear call to action
An organization needs to be clear on the intended purpose and desired outcomes for its Website – whether to sell products or services, take bookings, get people to subscribe to a newsletter, etc. To this end, the text needs to persuade and give a clear call to action.

Getting it right
Are you clear on your Website’s objectives? Who are your target viewers? How do you appeal to them, talking in their terms? Does your Website communicate effectively to achieve desired outcomes? To ensure this, find someone with good Web content writing skills…yourself, your Web design company, or a third party.

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