By Paul Parcellin, Staff Writer
September 11, 2015

When it comes to food in your refrigerator, you want to keep the contents fresh. The same should go for the contents of your Web pages. No one likes moldy bologna or stale text.

If you want to attract more visitors to your pages you should take note: A Moz study suggests that you're doing yourself a big favor keeping your Web copy as fresh as a daisy. Google seems to like pages that cast out the old and ring in the new. Especially when the new stuff is good quality content that gets lots of clicks and links.

But that means you've got to produce the material that your visitors like to read, and you've got to keep replacing it before it overstays its welcome.

You Write the Text

Some webmasters hire someone to write their content, and others take the do-it-yourself approach. If you're a do-it-yourselfer you might need some tips on putting your best foot forward when filling your pages with fresh, engaging content.

Content you create ought to be more than a brochure for your firm in electronic format. It also should have more heft than a collection of bullet points about a subject. Content ought to appeal to your visitors, and it should also be enjoyable to write. If you follow these tips your online copy will likely be both.

Write for the Web

If you find yourself copying and pasting content from your marketing materials onto your website it's time to stop and take a step back. Online copy works differently than traditional marketing texts.

Keep it Readable

Write copy that would be at home in USA Today, not The Wall Street Journal. That's not a put-down for your readers; it reflects the Web's international reach. Web pages can be viewed around the world, and that means for many of your readers English is a second language. If you write simple declarative sentences your copy can be read and understood by more people. That may increase your chances of driving greater numbers of visitors to your site.

Invert That Pyramid

Newspapers have the inverted "pyramid style" of writing, and that may serve you well in your Web page copy. The inverted pyramid allows that you will begin by writing the broadest facts in your story, and as you tell your story you will zero in on the article's most specific facts. The reader can stop at the point where he or she has the needed facts. This format gives the readers the most useful information as quickly as possible. And after absorbing your informative, economical copy, delighted readers may feel inspired to recommend your site to others.

Avoid Marketing Speak

If you hate reading what you think is a fair, balanced article only to discover that it's a veiled advertisement, you can expect others will feel the same. It's relatively easy to write "marketing speak" content, full of words and phrases whose meaning is obscure. Marketing speak writers call products almost anything except what they really are. Software packages become "solutions," a new widget is not only good, it's "transformative," and rather than merely offering rewards, an activity or service is "incentivized." Cut those pompous, misleading terms from your copy and use plain English. Your readers will appreciate it.

Get to the Point

If you're planning to write the next "War and Peace" or "The Great Gatsby," the Web is probably not the place to publish either of them. Most Web readers' eyes will glaze over when faced with the challenge of poring over extended text on the digital screen. Whenever you write, think about brevity.

SEObook gives the following advice to those with lead gathering pages: "Focus your content on conversion, perhaps even using brief pages with little content, but ensure your content is unique."
Nielsen Norman Group says that readers take in only about 20% of the copy on a Web page, so it's probably a good idea to throw your best pitch first. Say it in as few words as possible so that the reader can get your main point before he or she goes away.

Think of the Reader

Write with the reader in mind, not the search engine. People are not machines, and if your text is geared toward algorithms, your audience will probably notice, and so will the search engines. You may use keywords and keyword phrases, but when they're overused or are placed where they don't fit in with the text, you risk alienating the reader. Use keywords as sparingly as possible and never at the expense of good content.

Using the same phrase in a sentence is overkill, as is using the same phrase within the same paragraph.

Also Consider These Points

• Use lists and short paragraphs
• Solicit reader comments
• Use images to enhance your text

Rules Were Made to be Broken

These are guidelines, and you can use them as you see fit. If you know why you're forgoing the guideline and you know your readers well, feel free to blaze your own path. If you enjoy writing copy for the Web, or any other medium, chances are your readers will enjoy it too.

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