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How Well do your Web pages communicate to your visitors?

By John Alexander


Do you think your Web pages say exactly what you mean to say to your visitors. Obviously, you probably think they are communicating well to the visitor and if your Web site is working well, generating leads or making plenty of sales, then perhaps you are communicating well. 

For the first part of this article I want to talk to those of you who may NOT be doing so well with your Web site. 

Most of the time, people like to talk about the search engines and better visibility but once you begin to gain that visibility, the next question that presents itself is why are more people not buying from me?

Let's start by talking a little bit about the writing style of your Web pages. When you write for the Web you want to include a variety of words that like building blocks, form a proper flowing dialogue to communicate the message that carries the meaning you intend to deliver. 

So what's the big deal with writing dialogue? 

The fact is that most of us who were educated in the public school system, were taught with a focus on spelling, sentence structure, grammar and some writing and yet very few of us were ever encouraged or really taught how to write for the sake of "communication."  

Indeed we were taught to write to "sound intelligent" which usually meant a principle of the bigger the words we use the better. But in the world of Web copy, we find that most readers do not want to look at a lot of extraneous content that detracts from the message. 

In fact what most Web users want is just to just simply understand exactly what the meaning or benefit of the message is to us. Is there something here for me or is there nothing here for me. The sooner your visitor understands the meaning of what you are saying on your Web page, the sooner they are likely to interact or respond to your call to action. 

Often when you glance at a Web page, your eyes may not even know where to begin if it has a poor layout or is poorly written. But a page that is well crafted usually has a good solid headline that reads well and immediately gets the reader flowing into the message.

Writing Tip 1. The power of a good headline delivers on benefits and understanding.

Often a good headline is written to eliminate confusion and add some punch to exactly what the Web page is all about. 

Many professional writers spend as much as 20% to 50% of their time crafting their main headline because they know the importance it holds. Your headline not only starts the page but it may often be reflected in your Title Tag which is also what users see in the search results.

What types of headlines work well?

D
evelop headlines that appeal to as wide of an audience as possible:
How to capture one of the largest target audiences ever - Women
Cool Tools - that are also free!

Remember to create headlines that reflect the benefit of an article:
Keyword Research - Shift Your Focus to employ A more Lateral Thinking approach

Remember the power of the numbered headline:
15 Keyword research Tips for finding the Hottest Niche Phrases Quickly
The Use of Muscle Words. . . 148 power words designed to draw your customers in
25 ways to Add Quality Content to Your Web Site

Remember that showing numbers as numerals is more effective than showing numbers written out.
"25 ways" is more effective in a headline than for example, "Twenty five Ways."

Remember to use good descriptive words in your headline:
Reigning Keywords A Quantum Leap in Learning to Explore Legitimate Data
Easy Tips for Adding some Zest to your Click Through Ratios


Writing Tip 2. Learn how to cut down on the long-winded introductions and get right to the valuable content.

So often when people first start creating their Web content it's nearly like they are trying to fill up empty space. In the early days of the Web, the business owner might think to themselves "I need to come up with several pages of content for my Web site so perhaps I'll load my site up with the things that we have already produced." 

Then you often found that early Web sites were loaded with "filler material," corporate brochure material, mission statements and other existing material that really was of very little interest to the user. The only trouble is, that your Web site needs to be built up with content that is genuinely useful to the visitor and highly valuable content based on the needs that your searching customers are looking for. The cost of creating fresh, original, high quality content has it's price, but you are paying an even greater price if you are filling your Web site with extraneous low quality content that is just taking up space and distracting your readers.

Writing Tip 3. Learn how to shift from a traditional "print related" writing style to a "voice related" writing style.

We don't speak to each other the way we normally write. By the term "writing for voice" I am referring to writing similar to the way a professional broadcaster writes for their listeners. Have you ever noticed the difference between copy for traditional print and copy written "to be spoken by voice?" The difference is in the delivery and the style of writing. Printed copy tend to be written with much less customer focus and because it is in print, the reader has the option of going over a story a second time. Broadcast copy that is written for voice, is written with much greater focus on the listener because it is written to be spoken only once. If it is not communicated well the first time, you've missed it because on the radio you generally can't rewind or replay what you've just heard. 

When you write your Web copy, particularly if it is a sales letter, learn how to write your copy so it is extremely customer focused. Instead of talking so much about your services, talk "to the reader." Test your copy to see whether it reads like the voice of a friend talking to you. 

Example:

Instead of: saying "Our years of service," talk about the same benefits using the words "you" or "yours"
Instead of: "Our 20 year guarantee," you might talk about "a guarantee that....gives you 20 years of peace of mind."  
Instead of: "We can," make it "you can." 
Instead of: "We will," make it "you will."
Focus on words that allow all of the emphasis to be on the reader NOT your company.
You, you're, yours, you will, you can enjoy, you can experience, you can benefit by  


10 more general writing tips specifically for your fashioning your Web page content:

  • For readability, avoid complex sentences. Try to phrase your thoughts as simple as possible.
  • Make sure you say exactly what you mean.
  • Try writing with an "active voice" instead of a "passive voice."
  • Don't make your paragraphs too long - but make them smaller and easy to absorb.
  • Try to work on eliminating sentences if they are unnecessary or don't contribute meaning.
  • Try to always write in present tense.
  • Choose either Verdana or else an Aria font for easy reading.
  • Always write dark text on a light background for easiest reading.
    (Light text on a black or dark background is harder on the eyes and tends to sparkle.)
  • Try to avoid using industry specific acronyms and/or jargon.
  • Links in your body copy are favorable providing what you are linking to is relative to your readers interests.
    (For example linking to someone's blog post or to a resource or a source that your article is referencing.)
  • Remember that there are different types of content and they each require a little different focus.
    Example: writing press releases need to be newsworthy or related to hard news.
    Example: writing a sales letter - needs strong customer focus copy
    Example: writing articles - should always be written for the reader first 

Writing Tip 5. Remember your message needs a strong call to action 

So many times we can publish something but once we come to a conclusion, it's like we forget to tell the reader what we would like them to do next. If you don't simply include an instruction at the end of your content, don't assume the user will ever take any action at all. It sounds simple but many people forget this simple step. 

What do you want your customer to do at the end of your page?

Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Don't forget to tell them.
Do you want to give them more resources? Then give them a link and make it easy for them.
Do you want them to call you? Then tell them to walk over to the phone and give us a call at 1-800-Whatever

In conclusion:

As you work on writing your Web content to better convey useful, high value information that is of genuine interest to your readers, you'll also find that the search engines will also gravitate towards favoring your content thanks to the high tech components of artificial intelligence that are working in the background. Spend time your time building useful pages that satisfy the reason why your customers are searching the Web in the first place and reap the benefits of having rich content that will stand the test of time.

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About John Alexander
John Alexander is Co-director of Training at Search Engine Workshops offering live, SEO Workshops with his partner SEO educator Robin Nobles, author of the very first comprehensive online search engine marketing courses. John is author of
an e-book called Wordtracker Magic and has taught SEO skills to people from 87 different countries world wide. John's articles can be read in publications like REALTOR Magazine, Search Engine Guide, WEBpro News and many others. John is also Director of the Search Engine Academy with associate educators located in communities across the country.


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