Since the change in Google’s approach to page ranking, there has been a lot of talk about ‘quality content’. In this context, the phrase refers to ensuring that the pages of your website are filled with original, useful content, rather than strings of sentences stuffed with keywords with the sole objective of rising up the rankings.
You will find lots of information elsewhere about this including our own site, giving you the breakdown on how to format the content of your pages since the Google Penguin upheaval. Here I want to discuss the actual art of writing for the web and how to bring clarity to your pages.
Conciseness should be a goal for anyone writing for a public audience, but it is perhaps even more important when writing on the web. For a start, you don’t really know what media device the reader is using; it could be a mobile phone, tablet or they could be using the Internet on their 50″ plasma TV. With that in mind, it’s usually best to write so that a person reading on a phone or a small tablet will have no problems scrolling through the content. And that means keeping it as concise as possible.
With an awareness of the hypocrisy of it all, I’ll go into a bit of detail here about concise writing.
There is an unwritten rule followed by many people writing blogs and feature content that you shouldn’t use more than one comma per sentence when writing for the web. The belief is that if you’re wanting to use more than one, the sentence is probably too long and you should turn it into two separate sentences. While that’s a good starting point, there are times when you risk making a sentence or phrase unclear for the sake of an additional comma. That would be a mistake.
Whether you’re just writing some explanatory text about your company, or writing a blog or article, the main goal is to put across the intended information with as little effort as possible required from the reader. As soon as the reader, who could be a potential customer, has an element of doubt in their mind about what your website is trying to say, the chances are they will leave rather than progress any further. The reader should never have to look at a sentence more than once in order to understand it.
The key is to strip sentences to their barest bones. Reduce any waffle and just present the necessary facts in the clearest way possible. Remember, some of your potential customers may not have English as a first language, so keeping things simple will help them understand your site too.
The pursuit of conciseness doesn’t stop with sentences either. If you’re writing longer pieces of text, like a blog post or an article you should try to make sure that paragraphs don’t become overlong. A couple of sentences; three or four at the most should do. This makes longer pieces of text much easier to read on a screen.
Use Plain English
The Internet is no longer solely the domain of IT specialists and engineers, so you need to ensure the vocabulary you employ on your site can be understood by as broad a range of people as possible. Even if your site is relatively technical in nature, try to keep the jargon to a minimum. If you do have to use a specialist term, it is best to offer an explanation in brackets.
The type of vocabulary you use is also important. As is explained in our blog piece on brand identityÂ the words you use need to reflect the type of business you are, so be careful not write in a way that conflicts with your overall message and then deter potential customers. Ultimately, if in doubt, just keep it plain, simple and professional.
Check for Errors
It is very important that if you’re wanting to attract people to contact you or spend money through your website, the text should be free of spelling and factual errors. It reflects to the customer your care, attention to detail and your professionalism. Remember, everything you can do to lift yourself above the competition is going to help your business!
Most people know whether their spelling and grammar are up to scratch or not, but even professional writers will let mistakes slip through if they don’t have their work checked by a second pair of eyes. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss simple errors in text that you have written as your brain will just read what you intended to write, not what’s on the page! Spell checkers help to make pieces of text better, but they don’t always pick up the more subtle spelling and grammatical errors.
At Rosco we offer professional small business web design and we can include some high quality content for your new website with any project. This offers an easy and affordable way to make sure your website’s content projects high standards of quality and attention to detail.