Nine steps to write winning content for your site
Following these steps will help you create organised, and costant content for your site - or anywhere else for that matter.
Writing content for a website doesn’t need to be hard, it can actually be the easiest thing in the world once you understand the key dos and don’ts.
This nine-step guide will break down what you need to do when sitting down to draft content for a website. Throughout all of this, it is key to remember that different pages will require different types of content. There is no ‘one size fits all’ but with a little practical thinking, anyone with a good understanding of their business/trade can write the first draft of website content that can then be updated for SEO by someone with SEO experience.
We will look at:
● What do you write?
● Planning in SEO
● The Audience
● Your competitors
● How does it all work together?
● One page at a time
● Images and other aspects
● Ongoing changes
Mapping is only really needed for a new website. If you are writing content for an existing website all you need to do is take a list of all the pages and plan out the content volume you will use per page.
In the below example I have imagined a website plan for a new website for a new digital marketing agency. This is a purely academic exercise but it shows the bare bones of what a website might need in order to cover all the bases of a company in this industry.
For our customers, we complete this plan in conjunction with stakeholders to make sure we know what aspects of their business are important enough to warrant a page before we can begin the building process.
By completing this process, we know we will need approximately 7600 words to be written by someone who knows the subject matter. We have specified that the guide for “multi-channel” advertising will need to be longer than the rest as it is a more complicated subject.
It has a homepage that is broken down into sections so that I know what I need to pull together for the main page.
It shows the key services we wish to list on the website, as specifies that I will need to have 200 words written for each section. These are shorter content sections, as the services section doesn’t need to explain absolutely everything about their subject matter, it simply needs to state that we offer this service to those who find the website and are already interested in that given subject.
The how-to guides are essentially a more advanced version of the services page and provide a different sort of experience to those who might visit a website for a digital agency. Here we go into more detail on the given subject matter, as we accept at the planning stage of the new website there will be those who don’t wish to make contact right away and would prefer to read a little more.
This longer form content also allows us to perform more SEO work on our own content.
The contact us page is similar to the home page in that it is content thin. We have done this as once someone visits this page by choice, we want them to only be able to reach out. We present them with as many options as possible for them to make contact and potentially become a customer.
● Pink shows a single page.
● Orange shows various pages in the theme.
What do you write?
To someone in my position this is simple, but to those who have never done this before it is a common question. Why is this so important when I have a business to run?
The answer is two-fold. When setting up a new website you need to be sure that those who visit your website find the right sort of content that will help them. You also need to make sure that search engines can read your website and understand its structure in a clear and logical way.
In the above example, we take this further and write similar content in both long and short form, not for the search engines but for the people who visit the site.
This is because we know each end-user is different and while some will want to read lots of information, others will want only a brief summary before they pick up a phone and make a call.
By following this plan, we make sure we speak to both types of end-user as well as the search engines who also need to read the website.
A properly mapped website will simplify the SEO requirements of the content and reduce the workflow in the future.
This is because the overall SEO strategy should influence the content/mapping as much as any other aspect of the website’s development.
During the research phase, it may have become apparent that the players in a particular field are not covering a specific base from an SEO perspective, and this could provide an opportunity to gain rankings on some choice keywords quickly.
To do this we will need to plan a page and its content from the beginning.
Sometimes understanding your audience can be more difficult than you first expect but properly written content will be able to speak to multiple people. With the above example, we need to be mindful of who our potential customers might be and try to speak to them.
We might deal with; business owners, marketing managers, website developers, or any number of decision-makers.
By accounting for this we increase the website’s potential to convert traffic to leads. In this case, the sort of lead we would be looking for are usually phone calls and emails.
Competitor analysis comes under the due diligence aspect of setting up a website.
It can be completed ‘off the cuff’ where we look at a handful of local players in order to make sure we are ticking all the same boxes they are, or it can be a longer-form analysis piece where we look at all aspects of a wider number of competitors digital footprint.
The benefit of running both these sorts of analysis is that we learn what is standard in the industry, what your competitors are using as talking points, what we should at least consider adding to the site to be competitive, and what might have been missed at the mapping phase.
Good competitor analysis will often throw up ideas for new pages that may be added to a website or help us understand what type of call to action we might wish to use.
How does it all work together?
While each page needs to be written on its own, acknowledging that it is part of a whole is very important.
With the above example, it is possible, even likely that some users will read both the 200 words of content on the services page and then go right in reading the content on the guides section.
They might be interested in Google Ads and SEO and social media combine so we need to always be mindful of how one section might drive traffic to another.
When we bear this in mind with the sort of contact, we write we increase our chances of attracting customers who wish to speak with us about more than one service.
This then means that we can’t have different content pieces that speak with varied ToV (tone of voice). This might come across as confusing to the end-user or simply as poor content and could impact the effectiveness of the website to drive conversions.
One page at a time
So, if we want it to be written with the same ToV who then should write each page?
This can be tricky to answer, but based on experience the best person to write each page is whoever directly manages the day to do operations of that aspect of the business.
They will invariably have the most detailed information on the subject and have the best understanding of the general questions the customers may have about the particular services.
With the above example in this fictitious digital advertising agency, there may be as many as six separate people writing content for the website one page at a time. This will then need to be edited by one team member who can re-write the pages to make sure they all work together and speak in the same ToV without losing the value that was provided by having the specialist write the content in the first place.
Images and other aspects
Website content is not just text!
There are many other aspects of content that might be added to a page. The most obvious being photographs or images.
To make sure the content is as compelling as possible and that each page works as part of a whole the videos, images and graphics need to all be in line with the general theme/direction of the website and its branding.
Disjointed images that vary in style or quality will make any website appear amateurish and will detract from any content no matter how good it is.
There are generally three types of editing required for any website/content piece before it can be published.
● Spelling and Grammar
● SEO amendments
Each one of these is as important as the next and needs to be taken seriously but the last step in the journey should always be completed by the SEO manager who will be making changes to the content so that it has the best possible chance to gain rankings on search engines.
The SEO manager will be looking at things like:
● Primary keyword targeting
● Secondary keyword targeting
● Keyword density (frequency of focus keywords)
● Mapping the content (which page is targeting which keyword or group of keywords)
● If any content is trending on search to leverage being featured potentially in search snippets
● Adding any potential internal or external links
● Avoid plagiarism and ensure the content is genuine (has not been copied from another online source)
As has hopefully been shown in this blog, writing good content is not the most complicated of processes and can be simplified by following a few basic steps.
● The services a company wishes to advertise need to be mapped out
● Any pages that are specifically designed for SEO need to be added to the plan
● Understanding the audience will allow the process to be broken out into different types of content should that be needed for that company’s audience
● By analysing the competitors, we will find out if there are industry-standard pages that need to be included in order to match up
● From the map, we have created the pages that need to be assigned to the best person to write them
● That content then needs to go through a round of amendments to make sure it is all speaking with the same tone of voice and does not contradict itself
● The non-text components of the content need to be collated with the same focus on consistency being applied
● The final round of editing should then be completed
Please feel free to contact the author if you have any questions about this process, or want to learn more about developing the best content for your site.
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