This document offers some considerations for writing website content.
- AUDIENCE — Writing tools like Grammarly can help you optimize your content to better serve your readers by tailoring the style and level of vocabulary to align with site visitors. Consider having site content based on universal design by writing in a way that is most accessible to all readers. You may have people of different backgrounds, ages, education levels, and interests who read your content. Write in a way that will be of interest and understandable to as many people as possible.
- LENGTH — A Google search on optimal content length reveals there are varying opinions regarding best post or page length when prioritizing search engine optimization. If a website post is too short, it may be considered lacking or limited. Longer writing is generally considered too broad and lacking focus to satisfy a specific search term. A length of 300 to 700 words is considered ideal for the web. For comparison, a letter to the editor would typically be 200 words or less. The problem with using artificially imposted guidelines is that writing is forced to be longer or shorter than ideal for the subject. This is a disservice to the reader and the topic.
- LINKS — It helps to have unfamiliar terms and words linked to reputable online sources for readers to understand the content better. Use well-established unbiased authoritative sources such as education, government, or non-profit websites. Reputable news agencies can be a good source to use. Your site can loose its ranking and reputation if too many links point to new or less reputable sites. If it’s perceived by search engines that you are engaged in paid link positioning or link sharing, your site may decline in SEO reputation. Undisclosed advertising is a violation of Federal Law in the United States. Be transparent with any outside sources of links or content.
- ORIGINALITY — Be sure to use original material. Attempts to rewrite existing material using slightly different wording will likely be identified as a form of plagiarism. It’s also important not to take someone else’s ideas and present them as your own. Providing some context as to how you arrived at your writing can help demonstrate the authenticity and authorship of it. For example, “One day I was doing _____ and I wanted to find an easier way. So, first I tried ____. That was an improvement. Then I made this change _____. That made it better.” Briefly discuss the circumstances that lead to your insight. It’s fairly easy to see through a piece of writing if the author isn’t genuinely the creator of it. They lack the experience and knowledge.
- PLAIN ENGLISH — Writing should be as simple as possible. This makes the information easy to understand. It also makes the writing easy to translate into another language. Wikipedia has this statement regarding plain English: “The language used here is plain English, without idioms, slang and jargon (when possible).” [Source]
- SEARCH — Unless you have invented a new space ship that travels at the speed of light, the topic of your writing is likely being addressed on millions of websites. People think a few keywords, phrases, or link campaigns can get them to the first page of Google results. News Flash: Everyone on the planet wants to be on page one of the Google results. The content that rises to the top of search results will be from reputable established websites and authors. Writing that is regional, for a specific city, or for a smaller community of people will more likely have an opportunity to be found, but the number of people searching for it will be smaller. If you have existing readers, followers, or customers, consider writing to their needs and interests.
- SOURCES — It is important to include sources for information and statements. This helps establish the reliability and basis for your writing. It also shows that you’ve done the research for the article and haven’t copied someone else’s work.
- STATS — Review your site stats to learn about your general audience. Learn what topics are of most interest. Some analytics tools can give you insights into the education level, geography, age, gender, and other characteristics of your readers. For popular content, consider revisions that might improve the material to better serve readers. Some revisions can be based on direct reader questions and interactions. This relates to the goal of knowing your audience.
- STYLE — Writing style is a combination of phrasing and vocabulary. Some websites will have a reference style written without using first person. Other content will have the author’s words more pronounced and personal. The topic of the writing may determine this. Using Plain English as described above will help produce a minimalist, efficient, and accessible style of writing.
- TIME SAVING — Consider what you can do to save the reader time. You may have noticed a style of writing that offers a teaser or enticement in the title of a post, and the reader is required to search diligently through to the end where the actual promised information is provided. This wastes a reader’s time. Instead, provide essential information at the top. This is known as an executive summary. Websites trying to maximize advertising dollars will have longer articles, or even multi-page articles, to generate more ads and ad revenue. Don’t subject your readers to this. Instead, provide the essential information in as few words as possible.
- TOOLS — Consider using tools like Grammarly to assist you with writing. If using AI for research, be careful not to simply copy and paste what the AI system has generated. Grammarly uses AI, but it does so in a way to improve your own writing.
Keeping the above considerations in mind will produce content that best serves your readers.