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Web Content and Writing Tips

Ginny Redish at MIMA "Web Content Session" Nov 12, 2008

Ginny Redish at MIMA

I’ve been on Web content strategy binge lately. I’ve been wondering if one way we can increase the effectiveness of our online efforts is simply have smarter copy?

MIMA to the rescue. I was thrilled when MIMA recently hosted a Web Content event featuring speaker Ginny Redish, author of the best-selling book Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works. Redish focused on the concept of speaking to the site visitor and giving them what they need. Seems like a basic concept, but this is often lost on many marketing folks who put up websites.

Consider the difference between print and online content:

Print- Push Technology, you start the engagement with the customer.
Web- Pull Technology, the visitor starts the conversation.

If the visitor is starting the conversation and the average time spent on the homepage is 30 seconds, you have to capture their attention… fast.

Overall Tips for Web Content:

  • Mesh your business goals with the visitors’ goals
  • Visitor is not looking for a document, he is looking for information
  • Don’t focus on YOU, how wonderful you are, your mission statement, etc
  • Don’t put a lot of words on the page, put the right words on the page
  • Respect visitors’ time: use short paragraphs, lists, visuals

Content Writing Tips:

  • Use language appropriate to the visitor based on the target audience
  • Heat maps show an F pattern is used when scanning content, so using bold headings and sub-headings to make it easier to scan and break up copy
  • Change paragraphs to bulleted lists
  • Put the main point first (inverted pyramid)
  • Use personal pronouns
  • Put yourself in the place of the visitor and consider questions the visitor may have, then get to the point with the answer
  • Add links, if appropriate, to keep the visitor engaged on your site and to keep them from searching elsewhere
  • Name links (and anchor text) in a way that the visitor will know what to expect when they click
  • Find out what keywords visitors are searching for to reach your site and write with these keywords in mind

These tips are a great starting point for anyone wanting to optimize their website content. For the complete presentation, a video can be found: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/858588

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