If you’re tasked with preparing the content for a new website and aren’t sure where to begin, here are twenty two tips to help you.
- Consider having one person working across a website section to maintain consistency of voice
- Keep a style guide on a shared system like Google Docs or Dropbox that everyone can refer to and add to as new decisions are made. Use this document to write key points, like whether you follow English or American spelling, use of capitals and grammar and rules around abbreviations.
- Even if the content exists on your old website, consider writing from scratch – particularly if the content was written some years ago. It can usually be improved. Try to avoid cutting and pasting, unless you have a plan to update it later.
- Make some notes first so that you are clear about the following:
- Who are you writing for?
- What is your main message
- What do you imagine they will gain or do as a result of reading the page?
- Are there any images or videos that will aid the understanding of the words or attract attention as people are browsing across many pages?
- List any important keywords that people might search for in order to find the page either within the site or on search engines.
- Tags and ways to categorize or classify your content
- Remember good content takes time – avoid procrastination
Planning your tone and style
- Use simple language and short sentences
- Avoid jargon, acronyms and abbreviations unless explained in full first
Structure and Templates
- Consider creating a template with sections for answers to the above questions as a reminder. This can be used to create consistency across the site. Download our example template and adapt it to your needs.
- Avoid having the same information in more than one place. Use links to help avoid this. This reduces confusion and avoids having to remember to make updates in more than one place
- Consider the best structure for your page content – something like the following:
- Page Title/Main Heading
- Paragraphs of text
- Call to action – such as a link to another page, form or download
Length and Pace
- Get to the point as soon as possible with most important information at the beginning.
- Keep your text as simple and as short as possible – most people scan read through text on websites
- How many words should you write? There is no right answer. Think what is appropriate for your subject matter and audience. From a reader point of view, I would argue less is more. However, for search engines, there is an argument that more is more. My advice is to focus on your audience first
- Find ways to help people scan your text by using:
- Compelling and descriptive headings and sub headings
- Link text (see point 12 below)
- Judicious use of bold or italic
- Short paragraphs
- Bulleted or ordered lists
- Use the keywords you wrote in your planning and thread them through your copy in a natural way
- When including links in your text use key phrases rather than click here to help people who scan read get a sense of the purpose of the link
- Think about the answers you are providing. People search the internet looking for answers. Google is very good at helping people find content that provides answers
- If a page has a lot of content, consider breaking it into one main page and several sub-pages. Or if it needs to be on one page, try to break it into lists
- Avoid hiding content in PDFs if you can unless there is a good reason to do so. It is much easier for people to digest direct from a web page – particularly when reading on mobiles.
- When you have finished writing and proofreading, remember to check for bad spelling and poor grammar. Google is now able to detect this and will penalize sites.
- Make a note in your calendar when the content is likely to be out of date or when it should next be reviewed
- Finally, on WordPress websites, there is a service called Yoast that will give you tips on how to improve your content for websites. Use the hints to improve your content for search engines and remember that most of their hints will help make your content more compelling to your readers. But use your common sense if you don’t agree with the suggestions.
Have you any suggestions to add? We’d love to hear them.