For publishers, success depends on two things: getting your content to rank high with search engines and convincing users to stay on your website and engage with your content. However, rather than this being an easy two-step process, this translates into a network of critical factors and procedures.
The amount of web writing recommendations on the internet can be daunting. Each adviser claims to be the leading authority in web writing, but, in most cases, their advice is no different from others.
However, we have a different goal in mind.
We are very familiar with content creation and want to share what helps us in our daily work and the tips that we use ourselves.
So, let's take a look at what you need to know and apply in order for your content to get the attention it deserves.
Why Uniqueness is Important
The first step in ensuring that you reach your traffic and monetization goals is to make certain that your content is unique. Search engines downgrade websites that contain duplicate or plagiarized content. Google, for instance, checks for duplicate content both within your website and outside it; once found, it makes a determination as to who is plagiarizing whom. If your version is not the original and it closely resembles prior web content, yours will simply not rank. That is the equivalent of digital death.
How Can You Make Sure Your Content Is Unique?
Sometimes a content writer may replicate existing content without being fully aware of it: sometimes it is a deliberate act of copying. To certify your website is unique, it is a good rule of thumb to run checks on any number of tools on the internet, either by uploading or copying the text or by providing the URL of the web page you want to check.
Included here are some of the better known and most reliable options.
- Copywritely checks, at no cost, for plagiarism, grammar, readability and keyword stuffing.
- SmallSEOtools, a WordPress plugin, runs one-click checks (within certain tier caps) straight inside your CMS.
- Copyscape offers website owners the ability to analyze their entire website for duplicate content.
- Grammarly acts as both a freemium grammar and tone check service, as well as a plagiarism checker.
- Duplichecker is another free option to scan for duplicate issues either via text or URL.
How to Optimize Your Content for Google
The way search engines rank content has changed dramatically. Nowadays, Google, for example, tries to answer searches in its SERPs without forwarding users to websites (0-click results), indexes passages in search of the best results and uses a radically different measure to rank pages.
Not word count…
Google, for instance, has repeatedly stated that the length of the text does not matter but rather the extent to which the content answers user intent. Still: don’t rush to publish 300-word articles. Long-form content signals authority and gives Google a better chance at understanding the topic and your expertise, and at identifying indexable passages. In addition, long-form content receives 77.2% more links than short articles — and links are an essential ranking factor.
In the end, balancing short- and long-form content means you need to base your content structure on another consideration altogether.
No, not keywords. With its increasingly complex algorithms, from RankBrain to BERT to MUM, Google has enormously improved its capacity to find and interpret relevant data. Instead of looking for keywords, Google deploys machine-learning algorithmic models that attempt to understand the sentiments, context, entities and user intent behind each query and content piece.
…but user intent
What do users mean when they search for something? Google tries to understand that and answer with the most relevant web pages. You can generally optimize for user intent by anticipating complex searches a user might perform (e.g., best winter running shoes women) and encorporate titles and headings that contain interrogative words (who,what, why, where) or lists (6 best, 8 most useful).
This also means that your content needs to provide simple, clear answers to commonly asked questions. Optimize for readers who are busy or lazy.
Conversational language with active voice and direct address to the reader will help to create a bond faster. Remember that the average American reads at a 7th to 8th grade level. Don't try to answer simple questions with complex answers to sound smarter.
Finally, answering user intent also means avoiding dishonest practices, such as clickbait, biased reports, misdirected links and false labeling in link anchors.
How to Keep Users Engaged
Rather the opposite.
You need to rank with search engines through the authority of your content. Then, once you have the user on your page, you have to quickly convince them to stay.
So, how do you keep your users engaged? Two words: structure and quality.
Users do not read: they scan content. Once they are convinced of the value, they may dig deeper. For that, you need to make your web pages are easily scannable.
- Add author profiles and bylines. Google’s E-A-T includes, among other factors, a preference for authored content with expertise in the respective subject area. Who wrote the piece and on what authority? Make it clear to both Google and your visitors.
- Start with the value proposition. Make your value proposition clearly visible as early as possible: what are you offering and why should they care? In journalism, this is the inverted pyramid: the most important information is relayed first.
- Use headings and short paragraphs. Break up larger chunks of text into shorter paragraphs (no longer than 200 words or 4-6 sentences). H1 and H2 are essential ways for Google — and users — to understand focus points.
- Make an impact with visual media. Static and dynamic media help readers understand content more easily and help retain information. Make sure you use color palettes and contrasts that aid rather than hinder retention.
- Use visual cues. Bold text, bullet-point lists, caps and indents are undervalued ways of guiding your readers’ attention. Google knows better: it considers bold text a valuable SEO cue because it signals important information.
- Use structured data. For some content, this can be an important tool to help Google classify and display certain information (recipes, personal data, product info, etc.).
Quality is a ranking signal for search engines. From the quality of your technical solution (how fast your page loads) to the quality of your on-page text and media, Google is watching.
- Media quality. Low-res images are a bad quality signal for both users and search engines — same as media that fails to load. Also, use free stock photos cautiously: there is a high chance many other webpages are using the same, detracting from your originality.
- Text quality. Search engines rank text quality implicitly. Grammar and spelling mistakes signal low quality and can easily trigger page downgrading.
- Page experience. This is not just a general notion but a set of specific ranking factors that Google has deployed for mobile since August 2021. This also now applies to desktop rankings. This set of signals includes the Core Web Vitals, HTTPS protocols, and intrusive interstitials. While not directly connected to web content, it is an essential aspect to consider when designing the content page.
How to Get Users to Come Back
So, now you are fully equipped and know how to win over your reader with structured, high-quality and intent-targeted content. However, there remains two possibly even more important questions — how to recruit a reader into your content community and how to make them come back and crave more and more content?
Classic tips on writing for the web or SEO web copywriting guidelines will not help you here. Because here it is no longer a matter of SEO and what tactics you make for a single article. It's a matter of long-term strategy — that's why it's so nebulous, complicated and most often ignored because everyone is looking for quick, short-term results.
Here are a few tips that, while not guaranteed to get you regular readers, will at least help you lay the groundwork.
Create a Content Calendar and Stick To It
Everyone is certainly tired of hearing about content calendars — this is too banal and obvious. Every self-respecting content marketer has a content plan and diligently fills out the spreadsheet considering it more like a routine than some really effective activity. You are well aware of the degradative nature of outdated content, and you surely regularly update old pieces and remove past events from your blog (you do this, right?)
The point is not in the calendar itself but in the regularity of posting. Once inspired by your content and convinced of the regular replenishment of the blog, the reader can — maybe — even bookmark it. And this is already a small victory. Bookmarks may be forgotten, of course. But not every website is honored to be bookmarked.
Craft Attention-Grabbing Headlines and Introductions
Crafting catchy (but not clickbait) headlines is one of the key practices for creating web content and is a topic of discussion across the Internet.
Well-written headings and first paragraphs are a hook that your readers fall for time and time again. With a juicy, intriguing headline, a reader who only has the time for an initial quick look is more likely to remember and come back to read content that is so curiously titled.
Personalize the User Experience
You may be thinking that you can do without content recommendations or personalized experiences. As great as your web copywriting is, readers are more likely to scroll through one article and leave if you don’t personalize their user experience, even when they are satisfied! Our advice? Keep them by any (legal) means necessary!
Offer the reader articles on similar topics, saturate the content with relevant links to other articles on your blog and anticipate the reader's next interest. You have no idea how much a reader can get from a well-linked blog. It's akin to binge-watching but with textual content. By crafting a network of internal links and high-quality content (our tips for web writing will help you here), you create a space where readers are more likely to return.
Offer Subscription Options
Don't rely solely on bookmarks or your readers' unrivaled memory — go straight to their inbox! Your main task here is to obtain their contact information. This is not so difficult to do if you follow our recommendations and put into practice our web writing tips. By having your reader subscribed, you get the opportunity to politely remind them of new materials.
Your headlines will once again lure the enchanted reader straight from the inbox to your website. Then, your first-class content, internal linking and content recommendations will do their job. It is also wise to mention that subscriptions offer a lot of variability in creating a special reader community. Depending on your niche and audience, you may choose to offer premium content or exclusive benefits to subscribers, such as access to member-only articles, discounts on products or early access to new releases.
Let's Summarize: Top Web Writing Tips We're Sure About
So, we have talked a lot about uniqueness, structure, intention and ways to return the reader. Let's recap the main points to ensure that your copywriting for the web brings real results:
- Start with the audience: As trite as it may seem, let this statement always accompany your every action — tailor your content to meet your audience's needs and interests. Use language that resonates with them.
- Write concisely: Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and to the point. Use clear and straightforward language to convey your message effectively and exactly according to the user's intent.
- Structure your content: Break up your content with headings and subheadings to make it scannable and easy to navigate. Use media and visual cues to draw readers' attention to important points.
- Don’t forget about uniqueness: It makes no sense to copy other people's articles, engage in meaningless rewriting or mindlessly churn out faceless content filled with keywords. You're answering your audience's questions, so show them that you're really an expert.
- Optimize for SEO: You don't write content for SEO purposes but write content with SEO in mind. SEO will help your content get seen, so incorporate relevant keywords naturally throughout your content to improve search engine visibility and attract organic traffic.
Know Your Audience’s Problem and Provide the Best Solution
If you want your pages to rank and your users to engage, the solution is simple: know your audience, understand the searches they will perform and anticipate these queries by providing the most relevant, authoritative content.
Wrap that content in a package that is well-structured and easily scannable and make sure its value is clear from the outset. Once in the user’s hand, excellent user experience is at their fingertips. And once your content gets the attention it deserves, you can easily move on to monetizing your website. But that's a completely different story.