Writing content for your website is never an easy task and always takes longer than you think. And to be honest, if you can afford the services of a copywriter then that is our recommendation. However, because it's a time consuming (i.e. costly) process it is understandable that you may want to handle this task yourself. If so, don't despair, if you follow our straightforward guide, you'll soon be up and running.
One of the reasons writing content for your website is so time consuming is because it's a cyclic process; working iteratively takes time. You write, refine and repeat until your content is ready to publish. Each step takes time, particularly the period in between writing and refining; this is an important period that allows you to reflect on what you've written before reappraising things with fresh eyes. Usually overnight is enough time between drafts.
Begin with a quick draft
Don't spend too much time on the first draft; the aim is to get some rough ideas down. Second and third drafts will invariably be more considered.
Using the basic structure of a standard web page as a template, the elements you need to write content for are:
- Page Title
- Main Content
The Page Title is a short description of what the page is about. It appears in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) so is therefore a vital element when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Page Titles should be a maximum of 55-60 characters in length.
TIP: think of your Page Title as something someone would search for. Page Titles are often phrases or questions that refer to the content, for example "How to change a washer on a tap". Ask yourself if it's likely someone would type your Page Title into a search engine when searching for the content for that page.
The Description is a slightly longer version of the Page Title and can sometimes appear in SERPs. The Description should, in one or two sentences, describe what the page is about, for example "Help and advice on how to repair a dripping tap. Description, explanation and parts diagrams on how to change tap washers, tap seals and the different types of washers and taps".
The Description should be about 160 characters in length.
Keywords, also sometimes known as Tags, are the important words or phrases you'll find in the Page Title, Description and Main Content of a given page. There's no limit to the number of Keywords you can provide, but the general idea is that if you gave someone a list of your Keywords they would be able understand what the page is about when read out of context.
The Main Content is ultimately what the visitor to your web page came to read, so you need to give them what they're looking for right away, or they'll soon be clicking the back button. The life cycle of a web search can be painfully short.
The life cycle of a web search
Once you get your head round the idea of "the life cycle of a web search" then the whole process of knowing what to write for your Main Content should be become much clearer. For example, George wants to find out how to change a washer on a tap and searches Google. Try this search yourself and see the results. George expects to click any one of the Google SERPs and find clear steps on how to change a washer. This is the key here: the Main Content must deliver what the Page Title promised, i.e. we need to meet the expectations of the potential customer. So when George clicks on a link in the SERPs that says "Repairing A Dripping Tap - How to Change a Tap Washer" (remember, this is the Page Title on that web page) she has an expectation which needs to be met.
Your content needs to meet the expectations of the potential customer
Ok, at this stage you should have a Page Title and Description, along with some Keywords. Keep these Keywords in mind as you write the Main Content, as they should be appearing throughout the rest of your page. Next, just as you expanded the Page Title to write the Description, you now need to expand the Description to write the Main Content.
We'll begin by breaking down the Main Content into easier to digest sections; this not only helps the visitor read (or scan) the page quickly but it helps you construct things in a meaningful way. Let's see what makes up the Main Content:
The anatomy of your Main Content
- Main Heading
- Sub Headings + Content
The Main Content should begin with a Main Heading, which is usually the same as (or very similar to) the Page Title. There's only one Main Heading per page. The key point to remember is that the when a visitor lands on one of your pages, particularly from a search engine or from another page on your site, their expectations have been set according to what they clicked, which will invariably be something similar to your Page Title. They're now expecting to find content that matches that, so make the Main Heading similar to your Page Title.
This is followed by the Preamble, which is a longer version of the Description, and acts as an introduction to the rest of the page content.
Sub Headings are then used to split up the rest of the content on your page. The real benefit of Sub Headings is that they help to make your Content easier to read. Users can scan through the Sub Headings quickly and get a good understanding of what the content is about, helping them achieve their task with as little effort as possible.
TIP: Sub Headings should indicate what the following content is about.
TIP: Split your Content up further with other standard structures like bullet points and blockquotes. Also consider images and other media (like videos) to enhance the content.
Have a look at an example post we published a few years back, it follows the structure described above: Anatomy of a URL.
Polish & repeat
Once you've created a first draft of your page content, leave it for a day or so before returning to it with fresh eyes. Re-reading what you've written, you'll soon find typos and other grammatical mistakes (particularly if it was a first draft). Work through each of the elements again, honing and improving where you can, re-writing sections as necessary.
TIP: Ask a colleague or family member to read your content to get their feedback. At Doepud, we'll also be very happy to comment, just ask.
Other things to consider
As alluded to previously, embellishing your content with images, videos, graphs and third-party widgets can add real value to your content. We wrote a useful article on How to choose stock images for your website which will give you a few options to explore when trying to find something graphically emotive to support your content.
Download Website Content Template
Based on the approach described above, we've created a Website Content Template which you are welcome to download and use to get started writing your own content.