I ranted a little while ago about the need for site owners to create better web content, after being inundated with repetitive tweets and blogs which were neither informative or entertaining. At the end of that article, I said that I would continue on the topic in the near future. Ever since then, my business partner has been nagging at me to get on with it, so here goes.
(It may be worth noting that I don’t necessarily believe peer pressure should be the driving force behind creating new content, but it can definitely work.)
So, to recap, I’ve already stated that the best web content is relevant, unique and generous. It’s also worth thinking about some of the following areas:
This doesn’t just mean getting your facts right (that should go without saying), but making sure there are no spelling mistakes and that it’s grammatically correct is still really important!
I was speaking to a recruitment consultancy the other day that had been in a hurry, and posted a job application online for a Financial “Manger”. It’s easily done, but really doesn’t fill potential candidates (or clients) with confidence in your brand.
Human nature is such that once we spot a mistake, it will make us stop, even if it’s just to think “is that right?” Whereas the aim of your content should be to keep the reader interested, drawing them through to the end. The easier you make it for them, by trying to remove any spelling hurdles, the more likely they are to continue reading.
- Don’t just rely on spell-checker; always get somebody else to read your work. It’s easy to miss basic errors in your own content, as you can be too close to it
- Quote, and where possible, link to your sources. This gives people confidence in the accuracy of your content, and also shows you’ve read around the subject!
There are lots of recommendations out there regarding the “ideal” length of a web page. However, it should be the content itself that dictates the length. How much information do you need to get in for it to be useful? What’s the purpose of the content? Is it meant to inform, educate, entertain? There’s nothing wrong with a one paragraph blog post if it’s relevant, or entertaining. Equally, I’ve read posts of a few thousand words, which have given some in-depth information that I’ve now bookmarked to use as reference in the future.
- Don’t worry about keeping information “above the fold”. Here’s why
- If you do write a lengthier article, use sub-headings and bullet points to make it easier to scan, and break your article up with images and diagrams if relevant
Accessibility covers a few areas, it’s not just making it compliant with coding standards and Search Engine friendly – although that’s always a good idea.
Consider accessibility in terms of the language you use. Try and avoid jargon wherever possible. I’ve heard a lot of people argue about this, saying “visitors to my site are in the industry, they should know what these things mean”. However, you’re automatically excluding those people who don’t know those industry specific acronyms and terms, and not actually providing any additional benefit to those enlightened visitors. If you can phrase something in a way that can be understood by the majority of people, you’re just widening your reach.
Why exclude anybody from being able to understand your writing?
- Get somebody not in your industry to read your content, they may not find it particularly interesting, but they should be able to understand it.
- If acronyms are relevant, always explain it when it’s first used. So if you mention SEO, there’s no harm in saying “Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)” in your initial statement.
For an article to be accessible, it must also be “findable”. Good content shouldn’t just be an SEO exercise, and therefore it needs to be easy to navigate to on your site. I discovered an article through a search engine the other day, then when I went back to the site a few days later, it was impossible to find via the main navigation.
- Link to the article from various places within your site where it may be relevant, don’t just rely on your blog listing.
- Categorise your blog where possible
- Make sure your internal search functionality provides accurate results
The problem is, that good content takes time, resource and a level of competency. I recently read this great article which says if you don’t have the time to create a great blog, then don’t bother at all, which I couldn’t agree with more.
I’m going to sit back now and wait for the comments pointing out any unnecessary jargon and spelling mistakes…