By Anne Roos, Director of Content Development
The Internet world expects business owners to be great writers, even if it isn’t their cup of tea. Rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation reflect on your business just as much as the information you share. And it gets even more confusing, because some of the standard rules of writing were made to be broken for social media posts, blog entries, and web pages. For creating a digital identity, a unique voice online that attracts clients and customers to your brand, you also need to mind the rules of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO websites will have you believe that there are hard-and-fast formulas to follow to get on the first page of search engine results for your specific keywords. It’s a soft science, and because Google frequently changes its algorithms for ranking, no set formula is going to work.
Follow our 3 standards that apply across-the-board for anything you are writing online:
1. Write for human consumption.
Forget about stuffing keywords into paragraphs and pages—one or two mentions will do. Focus on the information that interests your customers and clients.
2. Never copy content from another source, even if that source is a page on your own website.
Search engines like original content, and they’ll drop your page in rank, or remove you from search engine results altogether, when you duplicate content.
3. Text is more important than graphics.
The major search engines place high importance on content that is relevant to your website visitors. They also pay attention to your website’s layout. Find out Why Content Trumps Design.
How your content looks on the page is important, because most people scan an article with their eyes before delving into its contents.
Follow these 8 standards of formatting to entice your readers:
1. Put the good stuff at the beginning. As of May, 2015, Google announced that more searches are performed on mobile devices (smartphone, tablets, etc.) than on desktops and laptops. Therefore, you need to concentrate the important texts in the first few sentences to avoid scrolling on small-screened devices.
2. Focus on one idea per paragraph, use shorter sentences, and include 6 lines maximum per paragraph. Content is digested in small bites, not big meals. Make it easy for your readers to pick out important points. Embolden key sentences and key phrases within the paragraph.
3. Add lists and bullet points for variety. They are easy to read, easy to write, and everyone loves lists. Try to limit your lists to a manageable number of items—If you have too many items, add subheadings. Speaking of which…
4. Employ subheadings to shift topics. Lengthy blog posts and web pages are ever so much easier to read when each new topic is introduced by a cleaver subheading—Think of them as mini-chapter headings for your article.
5. Always insert links within your content. They stand out from the rest of the text, because they are underlined and highlighted. Use more inbound links (links to your web pages) than outbound links (links to other relevant websites). Use inbound links within your social media posts to send your friends and followers to your blog posts and web pages.
6. Rely on the 7-minute rule for blog posts and web pages. Each blog article or web post should take no longer than about 7-minutes to read out loud. If you’re counting words, they should be no shorter than about 300 words. Each social network has rules for maximum numbers of words or characters—Stay within those rules to avoid truncation of text. Including media with your social network posts reduces the amount of text you can use.
7. Be conversational. Unless your copy is of a highly technical nature, keep to simple sentences. Proof your copy by reading it aloud. If you find yourself stumbling as you read aloud, or each sentence is taking up more than two lines, split up sentences and paragraphs so that your information reads like a friendly chat.
8. Get to the point. Always include a call-to-action: a website to visit, a phone number to call, a product to check out. What’s the point of writing if you don’t create sales?
The entire reason for building a web presence is to increase your bottom line. You can have a gorgeous website that attracts customers, but they need to know what to do once they’ve arrived. Your content wins over customers when it engages them and moves them to buy.
How do you engage customers? Follow our 6 insights of what to say in social media and on your web and blog page and you’ll see a return of investment (ROI) in your website costs:
1. Keep both eyes on your competitors—Building a digital identity is about developing an online and offline brand strategy. See our Beginner’s Guide to Competitive Intelligence for a primer.
2. Publish consistently—Fresh content sends website visitors and social media fans back for more. Plus, Google wants to direct searchers to new, interesting content. Post regularly; at least once a month on blogs, and at least once a week on social media platforms.
3. Establish a goal for each post—Do you want to get website visitors to sign up for your newsletter? Do you want to tell your readers about your company’s next public event? Do you want to introduce customers to your newest product line? Hone in on your goal, and then answer the question, “Why is this important to write?” when you begin writing.
4. Write an irresistible headline—Touch an emotion. Draw the reader into your article, your story, and your post.
5. Activate action verbs—Can you envision what that verb says to do? This is what defines an action verb. You can visualize the words drive, hit, aim, get. You can’t visualize verbs like be, was, and were. Action verbs get readers to move, respond, and buy.
6. Use a different mode of storytelling for each post—Ask a question, tell a tale, reveal secrets, challenge assumptions, offer a different point of view, alleviate fears, disclose a mystery, educate your readers, and more. The path of storytelling is only limited by your imagination.
Is this content writing task overwhelming? Staring at a blank computer screen with no idea where to start on your content writing journey? Too busy getting your business off the ground to focus on writing for the web?
Here’s the answer: Partner with a team of professional, seasoned online marketers, and avoid cheap alternatives. Going outside the U.S. for content and SEO assistance may look like a money-saving idea, but you’ll want to stick with American SEO.
Be careful when hiring content writers. Everything you publish online reflects your business reputation. Why trust the empty promises of SEO websites that don’t take the time to get to know your company, products, and services before creating content? Here at Moore Than SEO, our writers build custom content that attracts your target audience and gives your competition a run for their money.
Contact us for a free assessment of your online content.