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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Dos and Don'ts of Website Content

Tonya Thompson

Published on
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When creating websites for a business or personal venture, one of the top (and worst) mistakes made is in the website content. With new website design programs popping up almost daily, and websites like Wix.com that can be used with little to no web design knowledge, building a web page has never been easier. But once you're past the design part—what will your website say?

As a web content writer with almost a decade of experience doing this, I've had clients approach me with concerns that their website just isn't getting them noticed the way they need to be noticed. Web sites are supposed to draw traffic, right? If there is no traffic coming in on your site, or very little business brought in because of it, 9 times out of 10 it will have something to do with the content you have on it. With this in mind, let's first look at some of things you should avoid at all costs when creating website content that is intended to bring visitors (and hopefully, customers) to your site and business.

Don't write too much

This one is probably the most common offense in website content. You've got a lot to say about your business or passions, right? I know the temptation is difficult to avoid, so always keep this little statistic in mind whenever you're writing website content: 55% of website visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page; and for most visitors, you have 10 seconds to get their attention. Instead…

Do write a paragraph or two with highly engaging content

This means that when someone visits your website, they're likely to spend only about 15 seconds on each page. So what about all that content you want to write? Scrap it and come up with a paragraph (or two) that best summarizes everything you'd rather say in 10 paragraphs, because that's all the time you have to get most people's attention. Bore them in the first paragraph and I guarantee you that they won't read further.

Don't try to oversell yourself or your business

Have you ever come across a website full of clichés like "but wait, there's more"? Did you want to hang out there? Probably not—no one really likes to be harassed by overzealous salespeople. Instead…

Do make your website a type of informal portfolio

Instead of thinking of your website as a sales pitch, think of it as a portfolio—a way to show your potential clients or customers what you know, what you do, and why you're the best at it. Your work will speak for itself without all the clichéd writing (that no one likes to read because they've read it a million times before).

Don't allow grammar or spelling errors on your site

There is nothing that can ruin a business's reputation like a lack of professionalism, and allowing grammar or spelling errors is simply unprofessional. Most customers will assume that if you can't spell a word correctly (or find an editor to fix the error for you), then you won't be able to conduct business correctly either. Instead…

Do make sure your website is grammatically correct and error free

Most times, this is just a matter of hiring an editor to look over the content for you. Even the best writers make grammar and spelling mistakes, so having a "second pair of eyes" look over the content is a smart business practice, regardless of what type of business you're in.

Don't crowd a lot of words into wide spaces

This is just as much an issue of design as it is of content, but putting large blocks of writing in one spot—particularly if that spot takes up most of the page—will deter your visitor from reading it. Most people surf the web after a busy day at work, or as a way to relax and unwind. They're not going to want to read a lot of writing that may not be of interest to them, and strain their eyes while doing it. Instead…

Do make your content scan-able and mix it with images that encourage the eye to keep reading

When your content is easy to scan, your visitor's eye will naturally scan it. Keeping the content in small, scan-able chunks encourages visitors to stay on your page longer and actually read what you've written there. Mixing that content with images is another way to keep the eye on the page, as well as ensuring that there is plenty of "white space" on the page so that it isn't crowded (and overwhelming to the eye).

Don't write boring content

While this one should be obvious, you'd be surprised at how many websites are filled with boring content that no one really wants to read. For example, an attorney might put his entire CV on his website, including every association and membership he's ever held. Guess what? Most people don't want to read this, especially in the form of a CV. Instead…

Do write engaging content

Again, think of your website as your portfolio, and include on it writing that is simply stated and at the same time engaging and exciting to read. Most visitors don't need (or want) to know your entire history or your CV. Hit the high points of each and they'll be much more likely to read it. If it "sounds" like a sales pitch or a lecture, you'll chase your visitors away before they even have the opportunity to become your customers.

Following these few Do's and Don'ts of website content writing will ensure that your website looks professional, retains visitors for as long as possible, and helps your business grow.

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