Make Your Web Content Speak for You: Writing Persuasive Web Content

The content you put on a web page inevitably influences what your audience think and feel. It contributes directly to the way they perceive the company and its products and services. How effectively you write content is how well your readers absorb the information. Imagine the delight you experience when you find the exact information you’re looking for right on the first page of Google search results. Readers experience the same happiness when they find the exact information they need through your content.

 

Do your research

Your content relies heavily on the information it presents. A good copywriter never makes up information and always backs up a statement with proper sources and research. Don’t be caught fibbing; use data that are backed up by a reliable source and can be easily verified after a quick fact-check

 

Create an outline

Outlines help keep writers stay on track. They help structure thoughts and identify points that need emphasis.

 

Use SEO

SEO helps with keeping your website visible in the search engine’s unpaid results. SEO, when applied effectively, can help attract web traffic with the help of keywords in your article that match ongoing search results.

 

Proofread

In addition to checking your own work, it helps to have an editor who’ll better bring your thoughts together and correct the mistakes that you might have missed. Make sure that your content sounds professional and credible.

 

Treat web visitors as “animals” in the wild

Referring to page visitors as “wild animals” came from an article in 2002, and the phrase was used again by Jakob Nielsen in his own article titled “Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster” for the Nielsen Norman Group. In Jakob Nielsen’s article, he pointed out how searching for information is like foraging or hunting in the wild. Being referred to as wild animals isn’t necessarily a bad thing since humans are being compared to how animals learn how to make the best decisions on where, when, and how to eat since if and when they don’t, they end up hungry. Humans are the same in the sense that they improve their web use depending on their hunger for knowledge and not wanting to do more than what is necessary.

 

When visitors stop by your page, make sure that they are able to find what they’re looking for and that they can find them easily. Web visitors are finicky, but also utterly impatient. It may take them one quick glance at your page to make an abrupt decision to stay or to leave.

 

Most important information first

To help your web visitors make the right decision of staying on your page, lay out a bait that will make them stay. Put emphasis on your most important information so they see it first! Anything that follows should be written in a way that is similar to leaving breadcrumbs that lead to another important information. When it comes to online writing, the headline and the first sentence should be appealing enough to make the readers stay. This way of writing is called the inverted pyramid where noteworthy information comes first, followed by details and background information.

 

Fluff is not always necessary

People generally don’t have the time so you need to deliver information in the best and most straightforward way possible. That can be done with uncomplicated statements. Readers are often in a hurry because they know they’ll always have other websites to check. Clever or witty content is great only when readers get the reference or when they are reading leisurely. Otherwise, they’re useless and just make people think needlessly. Creative content is good when you’re writing articles you want readers to enjoy. When writing informative articles, keep it concise. If you’re writing for a younger audience, make the copy easy-to-follow. Make adjustments depending on your target audience.

 

Writing for page scanners

Content writing should be flexible but also accommodating. The content you produce should be good for page scanners, lazy readers, and information hunters.

 

Scanners are people who just scan the pages for keywords. They do not read the entire passage but stop for a couple seconds to scan through the document for words that stand out in hopes of getting to the much-needed information faster. When writing for scanners, you need lists that are easier to digest, highlighted and concise, and straight to the point with summarized key points.

 

For lazy readers, write copy that’s easy to read. People go to online pages for information due to its convenience. The convenience of having information right at your fingertips really works for “lazy” people. Some things to incorporate include short paragraphs (four sentences), no unnecessary words, short sentences (12 words), no passive tense, and no jargons. Address readers directly with the word ‘you.’ According to Steve Krug, author of “Don’t Make Me Think!” and human-computer interaction and web usability expert, make your text as short as possible. Get rid of half the words on each page if possible.

 

Active information hunters are potential customers who know what they’re looking for. Make your content helpful, answer questions potential customers will ask, discuss one key topic per page, and provide links to helpful pages either on your own page or other websites.

 

Use common words

Page visitors and those who are actively searching for information online are regular people who use regular search terms. Stay away from possible terms regular people find too convoluted to understand; for example: say cheap instead of cost-effective when referring to something that’s affordable. The terms or words that readers scan through the pages for are called ‘carewords.’ These words make web readers click and act on the need for information. Pay attention to your page visitor activity and search trends.

 

The homepage is not the only access point

Unlike books that have a definite start and an end, websites are accessible and available through all its pages. To help navigate page visitors to the right pages of your website even when they arrived through pages other than the homepage, your content and navigation should be on point. Content shouldn’t be a continuation from another page since each page should have a solid thought. Each page of a website should let the reader know which page they’re on and how they can access more information through another page.

 

Complement web design

Your web copy and web design should be cohesive, working together towards one goal and message. Content should be written with the web design in mind. Improve content visual appeal by:

  • Replacing words with photos and videos
  • Guiding readers where and what to read first by using correct font and heading sizes (use varying font sizes, highlights, bold text, capitalization, and italics).
  • Adding credibility through customer reviews and testimonials and expert quotes
  • Adding bullet points to de-clutter
  • Reducing white space but not eliminating it completely.