Poor writing strikes me like a two-by-four across the head. While someone less discriminating than myself might not experience such a visceral reaction, the quality of the written content on your web site definitely affects a visitor’s decision whether or not to return. It also makes a difference to another readership you can’t afford to ignore – the search engines.
We’ll look at the latter in a coming post, but for now, let’s just consider your site visitors. Forget for a moment the idea of selling to them or even convincing them to take action (conversions). Your over-arching goal is to become a popular resource in your niche. Copywriting and direct marketing have their places, but this is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about informational content that establishes your site as a trusted advisor.
Your Title is Your Headline
Newspaper publishers understand the value of a headline and so should you. In the web content world, your title is your headline. It occupies the primary spot on your search engine results page and invites the reader to your site to satisfy a need. Organic search results are the greatest free advertising opportunity ever, so think of your title/headline as a mini-advertisement. Getting your first sentence read is half the battle.
Keep Your Promise
Once you’ve snagged the reader’s attention with an interesting headline and enticed her to your site, you have to deliver the goods. Whether it’s the answer to a burning question, product information and reviews or comedic relief, your content must meet and ideally exceed the expectations set by your headline. A critical bond of trust is established if you deliver, while a failure could see the reader leave never to return. Every piece of content has this power to make or break you.
Keeping your promise comes down to the how of your content as much as the what. If the writing is murky, unfocused and hard-to-digest, its value is greatly diminished. In her excellent book, “Letting Go of the Words,” author Janice Redish asserts that good web writing “lets people grab and go.”
Stick to an attractive, readable font.
Break up intimidating chunks of text with tables, bullet lists and headings.
Keep paragraphs short.
Write in active voice.
Author Colleen Jones calls it “clout” and claims content is the key. In her book, “Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Content,” she describes a focus on quality content above all else as “a harder but higher road.” Content that educates, entertains and helps people make better decisions not only builds your reputation but earns loyalty and trust – the two most important factors in landing a customer for life.