Elements of Competitive Content

When you begin to create your web-site content, your audience is your customer or potential customer. Every word written for your web site should be written for the customer. Consider what type of information you have that would be of value to the customer, and those are the topics that you should be addressing.

Once you’ve determined what is most interesting to your target audience, it’s time to get down to the task of actually writing the content. You can either write the content yourself, or hire someone to write it for you. And of course, there are the services that provide content to you. Assuming you’re writing your own copy, you should be aware that some elements of web-site content are more effective than others.

Here are some guidelines to follow when creating your web-site content:

Point 1
Make sure any content that you include on your site is contextually relevant. People and search engine crawlers will be looking at the relevance of content to your site and to any advertisements that led them to the site. Make sure everything you include is relevant in some way. It also helps if the content addresses a need the customer
might have.

Point 2
Use original content whenever possible. Original content is much more valuable than articles that have been distributed to you and all of your competitors. Why should visitors come to your site if they can find the same information somewhere else?

Point 3
Be sure that all of your content uses proper spelling and grammar. Nothing looks more unprofessional than web-site content that looks as though the writer flunked English 101. And it does happen, so if you’re not an editor, find someone who is and ask that person to check your content before it’s posted to your web site.

Point 4
Use mostly short sentences, with 10 words or less. If you must use a medium-length sentence, try to incorporate it with shorter sentences around it. Users don’t have a lot of patience for long, rambling sentences in print publications and even less patience for them on the Web. (But there is value to varying a succession of short sentences with one a little longer — it keeps your writing from sounding like a kindergarten primer.)

Point 5
Use short paragraphs with lots of white space in between. In the print world, white space is your enemy. Too much white space means wasted space. But on the Internet, where real estate isn’t quite as expensive, white space is essential to the flow of the content. Reading on the screen is much more difficult for most people, so the extra white space helps them to keep up with their place in the content. A good rule of thumb is to keep your paragraphs to no more than four or five short sentences.

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Point 6
Use bulleted and numbered lists as often as possible without interrupting the flow of the article or the other content on your site. Such lists are easy to read. They provide the at-aglance content that readers love. It’s easy for them to find quickly the information they need.

Point 7
Break up your content with interesting titles, headings, and subheadings. Again, this is one of those elements of web-site content that make it more at-a-glance in nature. The variety helps your readers quickly skim through to find the exact information they need. Titles, headings, and subheadings are much more important on the Web than they ever were in print.

Point 8
Use keywords where possible, but don’t overdo it. You’ve heard this so many times by now that is should be branded into your brain. Use keywords only where they make
sense.

Point 9
Use a call to action. Users will not take action if you don’t invite them to. So invite them. When you need a form filled out, when you want them to join a mailing list, or when you want them to make a purchase, ask them. The old adage “ask and ye shall receive” is just as valuable online as it is in real life.

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