Not just anyone can fill the shoes of a web content writer. That’s hard for many companies to understand because it seems like we all have to write (to some degree) to do our jobs. But smart organizations know it isn’t enough anymore to put any old content out there. To achieve your goals, content has to be good, and it has to be smart. That requires putting thought and science behind how you approach your web content writing.
What do I mean? Well, why don’t I show you and share a few tips to improve your web content writing along the way.
Have you ever jumped straight into web content writing without planning it? If so, you’re not alone. Tight deadlines and busy subject matter experts writing content usually contribute to a general lack of planning in order to just “git-r-done.” Content creators tasked with writing, even with tight deadlines, can help better plan writing by
Think of your attention span while reading webpages, articles, blog posts, product descriptions, and any other kind of business writing. When it lacks focus, your mind drifts and you’re easily distracted by another piece of content. Stay focused, overall and paragraph by paragraph. If you pack too many different ideas into your web content writing, you risk confusing readers. More importantly, focused writing more effectively connects with customers or users looking for particular products or information.
For example, GE Digital Energy features a page focused on Critical Infrastructure. Each paragraph focuses on a particular aspect of critical infrastructure such as data centers and health care facilities.
Passive voice creeps up on even the best writers. Too many instances of “has,” “have,” “is,” “are,” and “was” slowly weakens a piece of writing, like eating soggy cereal or drinking watered down coffee. Active voice, spearheaded by verbs, verbs, and more verbs, communicates more directly to people. Entirely eliminating passive voice is impossible, but too much passive voice obscures the meaning of sentences and reduces their impact.
For example, compare these two sentences.
Original sentence from ExxonMobil website:
After years of research, evaluation and practice, we have concluded that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technically feasible way to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.
Our more active version of the sentence:
Years of research, evaluation, and practice show that carbon capture and storage (CCS) reduces the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. And, it’s technically feasible.
Like an uncle who talks to you for way too long at a holiday party, run-on sentences lose you readers. Similar to conversation, writing needs room to breathe. Keep sentences relatively short and break up long sentences into shorter sentences.
For example, Apple keeps this description of the iPad Air’s advanced wireless features short and concise:
iPad Air keeps you connected faster than ever. In more locations than ever. Using two antennas instead of one and MIMO technology, iPad Air delivers up to twice the Wi-Fi performance of its predecessor. And the Wi-Fi + Cellular model supports more LTE bands than ever, so you can make quick, easy connections the world over.
Remember the Jabberwock poem from Alice in Wonderland with such lines as this?
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
Have you ever read product, technical, or scientific content that sounded just as nonsensical? We find plain yet precise language makes even technical people happy.
For example, while enterprise servers represent some of the most technical products that companies purchase, Dell keeps jargon to a minimum. Instead, Dell emphasizes when each type of server works best. The result? Technical and non-technical customers alike can narrow down their choices easily.
Of course, sometimes you need to use a technical term because it’s the accurate term. Even in those cases, you can help your users by defining those terms and prioritizing important points based on user needs.
So, those are some tips to take your writing (or your company’s writing) to the next level. What kind of impact will following tips like these have? Let’s take a look.
Well-executed writing of web content will make a difference to clarity, readability, and engagement—and ultimately your organization’s goals.
Focused, structured writing makes more sense for people to navigate and scan. Like wearing glasses or contacts, focused writing lessens confusion, especially when customers are discovering you for the first time or researching solutions.
Remember the last time you couldn’t put an article or a book down? That’s readability in action. Concise writing in active voice leads your customers from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, and web page to web page.
More and more of your website users visit through mobile devices such as tablets and phones. Do you think they’ll have the patience to wade through a sea of unfocused text on their smartphone? Probably not.
Search engines such as Google put high weight, perhaps the most weight, in their algorithms on content quality. (For details, follow Google’s Panda updates.) When you stop spending on SEO tips and tricks and invest in quality content—including well-written text—instead, you’ll find your search visibility rises.
Want your users or customers to make a decision or take action? It’s more likely if they easily understand and engage with your content. They are less likely to tune out, leave the page, or even leave the site.
The essentials of good writing for the web are indispensable when appealing to your users or customers, engaging them on your website, and persuading them to take action.
So the next time you or your organization is tempted to let just anyone write content for your website, application, or other digital experience, think about this. When web content is so important to your goals, can you really risk putting your writing into inexperienced hands?
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