How to Write Content for the Web

February 19, 2019

Web content is a crucial part of any business’s digital presence. Learn how strategic changes in content can significantly boost audience engagement.

To succeed in today’s digital world, every business needs a great website.

There are many ways to engage readers on a website, and businesses often use interactive graphics, catchy slogans, and visuals. Businesses also recognize the role of SEO-optimized web content in improving visibility on the web. But when it comes to audience engagement, these elements are not enough.

Persuasive web copy is the key factor that sets your website apart from competitors. This is where the importance of writing good content comes into the picture.

According to Ann Hadley, author of Everybody Writes, “Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience.”

For businesses, creating quality content involves communicating your organization’s intent and establishing it as an expert in your field.

You can use this article to learn the basics of writing engaging web content.

3 Ways Good Content Helps Your Business

Coupled with effective SEO, good web copy can give your brand the online visibility and engagement that it needs to grow.

There are 3 main benefits of investing in web content:

  • Educating customers
  • Establishing brand identity
  • Boosting brand awareness

Your website should be more than just a static brochure for your business. Instead, it should educate customers about how your products benefit them.

Businesses can also use web content to establish a brand identity. Web content can help attract your target audience by providing insights and narratives that appeal to them. Relevant, unique content can create a strong and memorable brand identity.

If these two elements are effective, your website content boosts awareness of your brand. Content that creates a lasting impression is more likely to be shared among people of similar interests, helping you reach new customers. You can even involve your audience in creating new content.

These 3 benefits can help your business drive conversions and stand out from the competition.

10 Elements of Engaging Web Copy

Effective copywriting is a powerful growth tool for any business. Writing for the web, however, is different from writing for print.

If you want your web content to successfully engage your audience, it should have 10 key elements:

  1. Regular updates
  2. Logical structure
  3. Attention-grabbing introductions
  4. Succinct posts
  5. Short article lengths
  6. Descriptive headlines
  7. No keyword stuffing
  8. Quotes from legitimate sources
  9. Visual elements
  10. No complex jargon

1. Regularly Update Content

Developing fresh content is not only essential to engaging readers, but it can also earn loyalty and attract dedicated readers. You should regularly publish new content to keep your website up to date.

To plan new content, understand what your readers want to read and which questions they need answers for, then write blog posts discussing precisely those topics.

Harvard Business Review, for instance, caters to corporate readers who want to improve their business savvy.

HBR adds new content frequently.

Its articles discuss the new and upcoming trends across industries, giving readers insight into new and emerging topics. The web design puts new content at the top of lists so that it appears fresh when readers visit.

Regularly updated content keeps readers engaged and loyal.

2. Create a Logical Structure

Website copy needs a logical structure so readers can find the information they’re looking for.

A study by the Nielsen Norman Group suggests that web readers scan approximately 75% of text in online content instead of reading it word for word.

Web copy should have shorter paragraphs and sentences that allow readers to scan easily through the text. Ideally, your blog posts should be 1,000-1,500 words.

To make your web copy easier to scan, divide your content into easily distinguishable paragraphs and points that clearly communicate your argument.

To make your copy even easier to scan, you should use subheadings to introduce your keywords in the form of H2 and H3 tags. This will also give your page a significant SEO boost.

The following excerpt from Neil Patel’s blog showcases how structure is crucial for online content:

Neil Patel's blog uses effective structure.

The paragraphs are short and are dominated by shorter sentence structures. This significantly improves the readability of the article and allows readers to skim through the piece.

All web content should be clear and scannable to engage readers.

3. Use Introductions to Grab Readers’ Attention

Every article or blog post you publish should begin with an attention-grabbing introduction. If your content lacks introductions, it may not captivate the audience’s attention and they may not read the entire piece.

You can also use your introductory paragraphs to introduce SEO keywords that help drive traffic to your web page.

Consider this introduction from JPMorgan’s blog, for example:

JPMorgan's blog uses effective introductions.

The post starts with a narrative that instantly engages the reader. It then quotes relevant facts figures that assure the reader that the article is credible as well.

Compelling introductions help pull a reader into an article and hold their attention until the last word.

4. Be Succinct

While print readers are often prepared to spend time reading a single article, web readers have little time on their hands. The average web reader spends fewer than fifteen seconds on your site.

Because web readers move quickly, they prefer important information to be laid out succinctly so they can determine whether the article will serve their purposes.

In addition to keeping your content concise, you should consider adding a summary or list of key points near the top of your articles to help readers access your content quickly.

5. Keep the Length Short

When writing for the web, your blog posts and articles should be relatively short.

A research study published by the University of Texas states that reading on a screen slows down the reading speed by up to 30% and causes quick fatigue.

To accommodate for the shorter attention span, web content should be shorter than the printed content. You can experiment with the word count, and can even try out different formatting styles.

6. Craft Descriptive Headlines

While print headlines tend to be shorter, the opposite is true on the web. In online content, comprehensive headlines catch the reader’s attention while accurately summing up the article’s intent.

For instance, General Electric’s healthcare blog has headlines that are descriptive and accurately preview the content within the full post.

GE's blog uses eye-catching headlines.

These effective article headlines offer a complete thought, efficiently displaying the main ideas of the piece.

7. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

While it’s important to use keywords to optimize your pieces for SEO, be mindful about how frequently you use them. Including too many keywords can hamper the natural flow of your article and can make your content look forced.

Instead, balance your keyword to content ratio so that keywords are not blatantly obvious to the general reader.

You can also swap out your keywords for related synonyms, which will still help Google rank your content accurately.

8. Quote Legitimate Sources

With every fact you use in an article, you must include supporting evidence Quote legitimate sources that hold an authoritative voice in the field you’re writing about.

Legitimate sources include websites that have an authoritative voice and are often feature data from a study, survey, or research.

9. Pair Content With Visuals

People are more likely to spend time on web pages that look visually engaging, so make sure to publish your posts with attractive visual content.

Google’s Quality Guidelines instructs reviewers to give pages with supplementary content a higher search engine ranking compared to those without multimedia.

Text-only content is more likely to lose readers’ attention, compared to well-written content paired with interactive multimedia, so make sure to include diagrams, charts, audio, video, or infographics that are relevant to your article.

For example, Coca-Cola Unbottled, Coca Cola’s official blog, uses effective visuals in its long-form content.

Coca-Cola's blog uses effective visuals.

Videos and an embedded tweet not only gives more credibility to the article but also makes the blog look visually appealing.

10. Avoid Complex Jargon

To make your content as clear as possible, always try to avoid industrial or technical jargon.

Instead, describe topics in a manner that makes sense to the average reader. Make sure your content engages the reader in a conversation and cite examples that the reader can connect with.

Avoiding technical jargon and prioritizing a conversational tone will help you drive your points across and make your blog fun to read.

To Succeed Online, Businesses Must Master Web Content

While SEO keywords drive traffic to your web page, it takes more than keywords or H2 tags to persuade a reader to spend time on your website.

The more comfortable to read your content is, the more traffic it will attract. Web copy that appeals to readers while providing information in a succinct, engaging manner can effectively improve your website’s audience engagement, which in turn, drives more leads. These essential content marketing strategies can help your business grow.

In our experience developing web content, we’ve observed that making precise, targeted changes in web copy can go a long way toward improving overall readership. 

About the Author

Headshot of Kevin GeorgeHarsh is a digital marketer, professional copywriter, and entrepreneur at Italics, a marketing communications agency.