Writing for the web is not the same as writing for a print publication.
Content should be written in an easy-to-read, conversational style with the audience and page goal in mind. Web pages must be concise. Users don’t read content word for word - they scan pages for the information they need.
Use an active voice instead of a passive voice. Tell the readers what you’d like them to do (i.e., Apply now, Sign up for our open house). Keep readers flowing through content with calls to action (i.e., See what scholarships are available for Kentucky students). Avoid using jargon and slang.
Construction – Headings, Subheadings and Lists
Readers become overwhelmed with walls of text. Break your content into sections, leading readers to specific portions of the text as much as possible. Try to keep paragraphs to no more than 5-6 lines.
Present the most important information first and provide readers with greater detail as they scroll down the page. This helps not only your users, but the page’s search engine rankings. Use the same words and phrases your readers do. Choose keywords carefully and use them consistently when writing page titles, headers, list items and links.
Along with short, easy-to-read blocks of text, these elements help guide the readers’ eyes toward the most important content and make it easier to absorb large content:
- Headings and subheadings
- Bulleted lists
- Numbered lists
- Meaningful links
- Headings and subheadings create a content hierarchy for both the reader and for SEO rankings. How to build your page with the right tags.
Bulleted and numbered lists break up content and make it easier to scan.
Links are helpful and visually attractive to readers, however, don’t overdo it. Limit them to one or two per paragraph and make sure you’re linking to relevant information the reader should explore.
Keep it fresh
Outdated content will confuse readers and create distrust. Make sure you’re routinely reviewing content for accuracy. When events are over, but you want to keep the information on your website, edit the content so it’s clearly not an upcoming event and more of a review of how well the event did with follow-up content to share including videos, presentations or testimonials.
Avoid jargon, slang and web cliches, like this:
- "Welcome to our department page" (There is no need, most users ignore welcome text and jump to what they want.)
- "Click here to find out more" (Use link text that is descriptive.)
- "On this page you will find" (Don’t tell them what they find, use proper headings and subtitles so they find it on their own, quicker)
- "Use the menu on the left" (Do not give directions on how to find something on the page since the display of the page changes whether the person is on a phone or computer.)
When someone conducts a search with a search engine, a database is queried to identify all the pages that include those words and/or in the links pointing to that page. If your page does not include the words the person is searching for, it is unlikely that your page will rank well, if at all. The same is true when none of the links to that page include the words that the user used in their search.
Search engines order results according to relevance. One factor into that relevance is based keyword prominence (how often the keyword appears on the page and where).
Therefore, it’s important to consider the audience, anticipate what content and keywords they’re trying to find and how this determines how you write and build the structure for the webpage.