Post: Tips for Writing content for websites

Often clients are surprised when I tell them I need content from them, content such as the text for each page on the site and images.  They say “well I don’t make websites, how do I know what to write?”.  I then say to them, well I’m not a tiler/builder/electrician/tailor/photographer/insert-your-trade-here, how do I know what to write?  This is the crux of the matter.  You know your  clients better than I do.  You know your business better than I do.  Your website is for your clients who you want to use your business, therefore you are the best person to come up with the text.  

I do know how hard it is for clients though to write text.  It’s like being back at school/university all all over and being told to write an essay.  It’s not easy.  You need to do your research.  So this post is designed to help you do just that.  Please, if it helps you, add a comment.

What is content on a website?

Content is simply the text and images that make up your website.  Even down to the page names and labels on contact forms.  It is all content.  

Who is the content for?

Google’s guidelines tell you to write content only for the visitors of the website.  Whilst we do want to do that, we also want to make sure we don’t miss any opportunities to climb the search page in google.  We do that by optimising our content for search engines.  For that reason, our content is for 2 purposes:

  1. To show search engines such as google, bing and yahoo we are relevant for the keywords we identify
  2. To give information to potential customers who visit our site

1.  Writing content for Search Engines

You need to make sure that as you are writing and structuring your content, you bear search engines in mind.  What do I mean by this?  Well have you considered your keywords?  Keywords or key phrases are what you would like to come up in google for.  For instance, my keywords are huddersfield website designer and variations on that, e.g. Huddersfield web design, web design Huddersfield.  

searching for Huddersfield website designer keywords in google search

You can use variations of your keywords.  Google knows that web is usually the same as ‘website’, and design is similar to ‘designer’.  So variations will count towards your keyword usage.

 Keywords should be used in the following places:

  1. Page titles e.g.  to back to our earlier example of tiling, a page called Tiling Projects.
  2. Page headings.   There are several headings on this page.  If I were trying to optimise this page for search engines with my keywords in mind, I might add the word website in the headings, if it made sense of course.  Similarly, you should try to get your keywords/phrases in headings.  An example could be by having a section called Recent Tiling Work.  So try to break up the text for your page by putting it under appropriate section headings. 
  3. Page links.  A link takes you to another part of a website or to another website.  A link is made up of 2 things:
    • the hidden code, that tells your internet browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc) what page to go to when it is clicked
    • the text that you click to go to the other page.  It is this text that is important in search engine optimisation.  So instead of having links that say click here, have them saying: have a look at my recent tiling projects.  
  4. The alt and title tags in images.  This may not mean a lot to you at the moment, but when I show you how to use your website, you will at some point need to add an image.  When you add it to the website, you can add in some text that sits in the code on the website for that image.  
    • the title tag is the text that shows up when you hover over a link sometimes
    • the alt tag is the text that shows up if an image cannot be loaded for whatever reason.  
    • try to get your keywords in both of these places.  

Of course you should try to use your keywords in other places as well.  However research has shown, that google doesn’t allocate more relevancy to a page when it has more than 3 or 4 instances of that keyword or keyword variation in a page.  So you may get more relevancy for your first 3 usages of your keywords,  but beyond that, it makes no difference.  

The Golden Rule

Don’t forget that no matter if you come up number 1 on google for your keywords, if your text is just full of keywords and it makes it difficult for people to read, they are not going to stay on your website.  They will know that you are “keyword stuffing” – just trying to get up the top of google.  They’ll soon click away and go to a competitor with more credible content who gives them the information they need.  So the golden rule is, write your content for humans.  Tweak it for search engines.

2.  Writing content for visitors

How do you know what to write?  Well I always tell my clients to put themselves in their customers’ shoes.  Lets imagine you are a tiler and want people to contact you when they land on your website.   Now, suppose you are that tiler’s potential customer, and you’ve found a tiling website.  What do you want to see on that website that will convince you to ring them to get them to give you a quote?  You probably want to know that they are trustworthy, that they can do the work they say they can, and who they are.  Once you know the above, you will then contact them.  

So now you know what they want, how do you deliver those things to them? 

  1. Trustworthy and Reliable
    • The design of a site says how you are as a company/individual.  If your site is cluttered with garish colours, different sized headings, links everywhere, different fonts, etc, what do you think this says to a visitor to the site?  I’d think they were disorganised and had a bad eye for detail.  I wouldn’t want them tiling my house.  Your web designer should know this and will want to design the site so it reflects your company positively. 
    • Testimonials are another way of instilling credibility & reliability.  Visitors want to see what other people have written about you.
    • How the content is written can say a lot.  If you use poor grammar and have lots of spelling mistakes, the site visitor is not going to trust you with their business when you don’t take the care to write your content properly.  It looks sloppy.
    • Had any publicity in the local paper?  Add it to the site for increased credibility.
  2. They can tile
    • Show examples of your work in a portfolio or projects sections
    • Talk about work you have done in your about section
  3. Who are they?
    • They will want to know who you are.  Don’t get me wrong, some people might not care.  However, a lot of people, myself included, are swayed much more easily to pick up the phone when they think the company whose website they are looking at are nice, trustworthy and approachable people.