5 Basic Rules for Writing Effective Website Content

You’re eager to start filling your website with witty and informative content that will impress your readers and beat your competitors but how should you approach the writing process? There are a lot of advanced tips that could help you craft exceptional content that readers want to share with their friends through social media, but you have to master five basic rules before you get to those advanced strategies.

1. Make a promise right from the start.

You may already know that you need to hook your reader right from the start by including an interesting fact, a related question, or a story that the reader will connect with on an emotional level. The problem for many content writers is that they get so caught up in developing the hook that they fail to tell readers what they will gain from reading the rest of the content. The hook only works if it point and can’t figure out the topic or main concept of the piece, they’re less likely to continue. This is where you establish a contract with the reader. You promise to teach them something new or reveal your secrets if they hang in there a little longer.

2. Don’t try to please everyone.

Do the research to determine your target market, and then write as if you’re speaking directly to a representative of that market. State your position on a controversial issue, accepting the fad that some people will disagree. If you try to please everyone, your content will become so stale and generic that it will appeal to no one.

3. Give each page of content the space that it needs rather than writing to a preset word count.

If you have to dig up new ideas, resources and information to force a piece to a higher word count, the padding is likely to bore or annoy your reader. If you strip your work of details or water down the message so that it fits into a tight word count, your readers are likely to have more questions when they finish reading than when they began. They’re likely to look elsewhere for a more detailed account of the subject. Even worse, they may assume that you’re holding back so that they will purchase an eBook or course to find out more.

Try to write freely when creating your rough draft. You can then go through the content to eliminate filler, add details where needed, and question the relevancy of every paragraph, sentence, and word. You will then see how much space the topic demands, and you won’t have to cut the piece off unnaturally or add filler.

What if you’re limited to a shorter page length? Consider splitting a detailed piece into a series. Each piece of the series can link to the next, or you can allow each one to make a tightly focused point that stands alone.

4. Don’t create content for the sole purpose of filling up your website or staying busy.

Before you start writing website content, you should have a legitimate point that connects with your target reader. While you will have a long list of content ideas when you first start a website, there will come a point when you have to dig deeper to find fresh concepts. Before you start writing, explore your intention for adding that content to your site. If you’re bored and in search of something to do, consider starting a personal blog, writing in a journal, or calling a friend instead. If you want to create a larger, more authoritative site but aren’t sure that the content is relevant, take the time to find information that is fresh and directly related to your topic. If you come up with a blank, then your concept or niche is perhaps too small for the expansive website that you want to create. Maybe it’s time to add a new project to your to-do list.

5. Give credit where credit is due.

How much credit Google gives to links is now debatable, but SEO isn’t the only reason to create links within your content. It’s important to cite your sources so that readers see that you’ve taken the time to do your research and there is some legitimate backing to what you say.

That said, make sure to link to reputable, authoritative sources only. Here is a great post related to Google Ranking Factors for SEO. If you find a blog discussing a new scientific study related to your niche, don’t link to that blog. Spend a few extra minutes finding a direct link to the study or an overview of the summary. When you can’t find a direct link for that primary source, look for a professional agency, nonprofit organization, educational facility, or government agency that provides the same information.

Now that you understand these basic rules, you’re ready to put fingers to keyboard. If the blank screen intimidates you or you’re not sure where to start, give yourself permission to write badly. Focus on getting your ideas out, and then you can rework the text to create content that you can proudly display to the world.

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