Yup. You’ve been tasked writing website content. Again. While some of you might be relishing this effort, a few of you aren’t. Frankly, whether you’re looking forward to writing content or not—it can be a struggle with plenty of opportunities to fall down.
It’s okay, you’re in good company. We’ve all been thrust into the (sometimes) enviable job of writing website content. And now, we’re here to help.
Let’s start with a few basics.
What Is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Simply put, when you’re writing website content, it should be compelling, relevant and educational. It helps your prospects learn more about you, your product or service and, most importantly, explains to them why it matters to them and how it can solve their problems, driving them to buy.
Content marketing is an integral part of a strong digital marketing strategy and includes many different types of content – websites, white papers, eBooks, videos and webinars, for example.
Content marketing is a whole big discussion, so today we’re going to strictly focus on writing website content.
Writing content for your website is more than just throwing some words up on a page and hoping for the best. Let’s start from the beginning and work our way through 11 common website content mistakes.
Before the Writing Begins
Mistake #1: Not knowing your audience
Realistically, you could start writing your site’s content without doing research on your audience.
But will it be any good? Useful? Interesting?
Probably not. If you haven’t gotten to know your audience, or if you don’t know who your audience should be, your website’s content is unlikely to be compelling, relevant or educational.
The best way to create content that engages your target audience is by creating buyer personas. Both product and service marketing require an understanding of the target audience in order to effectively communicate with them.
If your buyer personas are lacking, or you don’t have any, Digital Marketing Institute’s Essential Guide to Defining Buyer Personas is a great place to start.
Mistake #2: Not doing keyword research
Keyword research is an important early step to take before writing website content. This will help you determine the best words to place within your website that will help your audience find you.
If done correctly, you’ll uncover long-tail keywords that are similar to the search terms your audience would use.
We could dedicate an entire post to keyword research – but to keep it short and simple, the results of your keyword research must fit organically within the content you’re writing. These keywords will also help you with search-engine rankings down the line.
Mistake #3: Having a product-first mindset
Yes, features are important – and we appreciate your excitement about them – but these are facts. Facts don’t tell prospects that you know them and understand their pain points, nor do facts explain how you can solve problems.
However, benefits show the end result of what your prospect can expect when they become a customer.
Don’t assume that your audience will read the features and understand what the benefits are.
Since you’ve built buyer personas and gotten to know your audience, be prepared to tell them why your brand and service or product are essential for them.
Writing the Content
Mistake #4: Bad headlines
Many people assess their interest in a page based on its headline – it’s the first thing they see (other than an image or graphic – more about that later). If the headline is appealing and relevant, they may keep reading.
That being said, a study uncovered that 3 out of 5 people stop at the headline and don’t read the content before sharing the URL with others.
What does this mean for you?
The content on that page must deliver what the headline promises for the other 2 out of 5 people who land on the page and actually read the content.
Quick fix: Use free tools like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to nail your headlines every time.
Mistake #5: Giant blocks of text
Giant blocks of text are not easy to read or digest. Can you recall a time when you landed on a website, saw a wall of copy and immediately left the page because it was too overwhelming?
Fortunately, if your website is copy-heavy, the fix can be somewhat easy.
Paragraphs should be short – just 1-2 sentences. Break up your paragraphs by pairing up related sentences and giving them a little room to breathe.
Bulleted and numbered lists are easy to scan, draw the reader’s eye and also:
- Create white space on the page
- Make your copy shorter
- Show the level of importance or sequencing
- Keep related items chunked together
See what we did there?
Mistake #6: Complicated language and jargon
Almost as frustrating as hitting a giant wall of copy is encountering copy that is too technical or complicated.
Your goal may be to educate, but if you can’t explain something without using deeply technical terms, you run the risk of losing your audience. Even worse – they may never find your website.
Most people don’t speak using jargon or complicated language, and it certainly isn’t what they type into Google when searching for solutions to their problems.
Consider the language of your audience – use it. When in doubt, the Up-Goer Five Text Editor is a fun tool to help you learn how to use only the 1,000 most common words.
Refining the Content
Mistake #7: Graphics that don’t support the copy
Research has shown that, on average, articles containing relevant images garner 94 percent more views than articles without images. Graphic elements on a webpage, while not the written word, are still considered content and are incredibly important. They break up the copy and provide a (hopefully) exciting visual element to support the words on the page.
Check this out for more eye-opening stats about the use of images.
Now… any old photo won’t do. The key here is to select photos that are relevant to what’s on the page.
This could include photos of who you are and what you do on your About Us page or could be a stylized graphic of an important statistic that supports copy on the page.
Oh, and don’t forget to optimize your images.
Mistake #8: Grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes
When you’re writing content for your website, you want to convince people to buy what you’re selling, right? Please, please, for the love of everything that is good, proof your content. Then proof it again!
Nothing says “unprofessional” like misspelled words and poor grammar.
Ask a colleague from a different department to review copy before it goes live. Ask a friend with writing skills. Hire a professional proofreader. Maybe ask someone else who isn’t in your industry to read it.
Mistake #9: No internal links
Moz defines internal links as, “hyperlinks that point at (target) the same domain as the domain that the link exists on (source). In layman’s terms, an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website.”
You’ve worked hard to build all of this incredible content – it absolutely needs to be internally linked. Start by looking at your sitemap. This will help you identify opportunities to make connections.
The goal of internal linking is two-fold:
- Guides prospects on a journey through your website, allowing them to read as much as possible, with ease; and
- Builds a structure that makes it easier for your website to be indexed by search engines.
Mistake #10: Not SEO-friendly
Speaking of search engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is going to rely on all that keyword research you did before you started writing (see mistake #2). Your ability to avoid complicated language and jargon will also help you here (see mistake #6).
Writing website content is just one part of your overall digital marketing strategy, but it’s an important piece. As your website is crawled by spiders and indexed by search engines, your content—and those keywords—are going to help your audience find your website.
Proper headlines, sub-headers, image alt text, crawlable link structures and so much more go into an SEO-friendly website.
Mistake #11: Overlooking calls-to-action
After guiding your audience through various pages on your site, at some point you want them to contact you for more information, right? You can’t sit back and hope they’ll call you.
You need a call-to-action.
A call-to-action (CTA) enables you to capture information about your audience, turning them into a lead and enabling you to move them through the sales funnel using other resources created for your content marketing strategy. Your CTA could be a:
- Weekly newsletter subscription
- Free whitepaper or webinar
- Free demo or consultation
As you identify leads, you will be able to lead them through your sales funnel using your other forms of content as they experience the buyer’s journey.
Publishing Your Content
Mistake #12: Thinking you’re done
Just because you’ve avoided the previous 11 mistakes doesn’t mean the work is done. Your website is a living, breathing thing that requires regular updates.
Prospects and customers expect websites to constantly look fresh, and actually BE fresh. This means that the job of updating and writing website content is never really over.
As SEO expectations change so, too, should the content on your website. SEO-friendliness also means creating new content on a regular basis, whether it be new pages, blog posts or any other mix of content that can be indexed by search engines.
All of that internal linking you’ve done? Some of those links are bound to break. Find them and fix them!
Regular audits of your website will help ensure your primary, consumer-facing marketing tool is in the best shape it can possibly be.
These common website content writing mistakes are easy to make – but they are also easy to fix.
Daunted? A marketing agency can help you write website content that best suits your needs to educate your audience and compel them to work with you.
The team here at MESH has successfully designed, developed, and created content for hundreds of corporate website design and development projects. If you’re interested in discussing how we can help you with this integral part of your content marketing strategy, drop us a line or call 844.432.8987.