Posted: December 14, 2011 in Web

How to write web content

What software to use?

No need to over-complicate things by learning some new fancy software. You can use Microsoft Word, Wordpad, Open Office, or any familiar text editor. I prefer Microsoft Word because it helps markup my content into something search engines and browsers can understand. If you don’t know HTML, this is the route for you. More on this later.

Keep your content focused

Writing focused content takes discipline. Whether it’s a how-to article or a movie review, remember the core purpose of the content and stay on topic. The more your content supports the overall topic of your article, the better your chances of ranking higher in search results for that topic.

Search engines have a job to do

Search engines are designed to list pages that are the most relevant to a user’s search query. Straying too far from your main topic will make your page less relevant to one specific thing. For instance, if you’re writing about the life expectancy of 6 cell lithium batteries, don’t tell me about your 8th grade science experiment where you powered a light bulb for 42 minutes with a potato. Though interesting, it’s irrelevant to the core goal of the page and your search results rank may suffer.


Start with a list of keywords

The simplest way to spark your creative mind is to make a list of words and phrases that describe your topic. Think of things that someone would type into a search engine to find this exact article. Use this list to create an outline, including sections or subtopics, that supports your overall topic.

Don’t go overboard with your keywords. You want to purposely include them in your sentences (for search engines), but keyword stuffing is penalized. In general, write about your topic as if you’re speaking to an actual person (because you are), and let the keywords naturally fall where they may; don’t play buzzword bingo in your content.


Get to the point

If you write about something using 60 words, but you can say the same thing more directly in 40 words, then do it in 30. Keep your sentences short and simple, and avoid using fluff. Remember, you are not trying to meet a minimum word count. You are trying to provide meaningful information as clearly as possible.


Break content into sections

It can be overwhelming to visit a page full of paragraph blocks. Break a large article into sections using headings and bulleted lists to make it more easily digestible.

HTML headings, briefly explained

Anyone who maintains information on a website must understand how to use headings properly. Headings not only organize content for your readers, they also help search engines understand hierarchy. Give search engines what they want to increasing your rank in search results.

Headings are numbered in order of importance like Heading 1 (most important, usually the title), Heading 2 (less important), Heading 3, and so on. Imagine you want to write an article that briefly describes some Popular Computer Laptops.

  1. The Heading 1 will be the title of the article: Popular Computer Laptops.
  2. We want to organize specific laptops into sections for each brand. These will be Heading 2.
  3. Each brand will have specific laptops listed there. These will be Heading 3.

How to create these headings

The method for making your headings will vary by application, but most systems have a visual WYSIWYG editor. The editor in WordPress is very intuitive, which is one of the reasons we use it, but the best solution for you may be Microsoft Word. I made a special style set to help assign these headings, bullets, links, etc. in Word. Then, most editors will give you a Paste from Word option, which automatically codes the content for you.

Word style set for headings

Horizontal rules

The horizontal rule has been around for a long time , and its usage is equally beneficial then as it is today. I use them to break content on a page into sections, which helps you better-focus on one topic at a time.


Use meaningful images

Images are a great way to explain yourself in a different medium, and they break up large amounts of text. The right image could summarize the text of several paragraphs, which is a powerful way to quickly convey your message.

But you should never rely solely on imagery to explain yourself. For starters, search engines can’t index images as well as text. More importantly, not everyone can see. Screen readers scan the text on a page to relay that content to your visually impaired readers.


Final thoughts

People learn in different ways. Some like to read, some scan for images, some only read headings, etc. Your goal should be to appeal to as many learning styles as possible while keeping your content simple and focused. Search engines pick up on keyword stuffing, so write genuinely as if you’re speaking to a real person, and the rest should take care of itself.

I graduated from LSU with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and a minor in Art History. My passions are web design and front-end development with over 10 years of experience.


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