Website Design Lesson 4
Website Content Writing
In this section we look at some ways in which you can start to think and write content for your site and what things you need to take into account. We will be looking at:
what is website content?
Why do people say “Content is King and how difficult is content writing anyway?
how to start content writing
How to get some inspiration for your content and how to actually start writing in the first place!
why you use original content
Why not just copy and paste from other sources? We look at why that is very bad for you and your site.
Content Writing – The Beginners Guide
You should now have all you need to be ready to start thinking about the content you want on your site.
In this section I am going to make a few assumptions: that you have already thought about the key points discussed earlier, such as what the main aim of the website is and the key pages you need on your website.
No? Then head back to the first lessons to make sure you have understood the basics first, otherwise you will lose hope in the earlier stages if you have not got those bare-bones first!
Content is King (and Queen and Prince and……….)
You will often read the phrase “content is king” and for good reason. The visitors to your site are coming for a reason – to be informed. What they are to be informed about is up to you and your site of course!
It could be for them to be sold something so, maybe a review? It could be to give guidance, such as website designing or any other information that is to be read via the content you provide.
Now, I know that content is not just text but could also include videos and pictures, but for the sake of an argument, this tutorial focuses upon text in the main.
Content Writing – what to expect
Before I go a little more in-depth, let’s just put it out there and be honest. Not everyone is good at writing content and you are going to have days when you just can’t write anything at all or anything you do write comes out as gibberish. This is a stage where many folk just give up or send their work to others to write.
Content writing is difficult at times. The main thing is to not give up and don’t lose faith in what you are writing. If you are writing about something that is of no interest to you, then you really need to think about your website structure and purpose in a new way. Maybe you really do need to outsource your content but that is never something I would condone as it’s bets to have control over your site and that includes the content.
Sure, in future you can acquire guest posts and people will be interacting more with your site, but the heart of it should be written by you in my opinion.
Still with me? Good! Like I said, have faith in your own skills but don’t think it’s going to be easy. You are building a website and it takes time so it is going to change and adapt as you learn new skills. You can also change it at any point in the future too, so if something does not read well later on, then change it!
Listen to what others say about your content too – such as the comments. Again, adapt as needed to fit around your audience and don’t take offense!
Content Writing Tips
How to Start Content Writing
Know your audience! In my first lesson, the WWW +1, you should have looked into this section in detail so you know who your site is aimed at and, therefore, are able to have some ideas about what to write for your target audience.
Who is going to be reading your content? Age? Gender? Country? Subject? And so much more! Get that written down and make sure your content is reaching, and worded to, the right people.
Are you writing in a formal or informal way? Are the people you want to reach professionals? Hobbyists? Looking for reviews?
Take a look at other websites to see how bloggers and content writers write for those people but remember – never copy! You are looking to write things that are unique and that add extra information that the reader may not get elsewhere.
Make a list of topics that you want to write about and see if you have enough information to write about them. Do you want them all in one page? Can you split the topics up into different pages?
Pages or Posts – What content goes where?
Again, you should have looked at the topic on Content and Website Structure before reading this but in essence you should have an idea of the pages that you want first.
For example, the Home page. This is where people may ‘land’ first in a lot of cases and so needs to be clear and to the point. Any content you have on there needs to be easy to understand and be able to guide the visitor to the rest of the websites, such as through the menu.
A lot of people put lots of information on the home page and that’s fine, but generally speaking the home page is where people move straight on to where they need to be – using the information, menus of excerpts (for example) to do so. So try to make it succinct. Take a look at other home pages in your topic field and see what they do. What works and what doesn’t.
Main Content – Pages
Some would disagree with me here and that’s fine, but I believe the cornerstone content needs to always be on pages when using WordPress. I like to focus the main information on these and then any subsequent ‘other topic’ or ‘news’ information into ‘posts’.
These pages are your main ‘funnel’ points – the areas where you’re really going to be ensuring that you have good content, detail and information. The pages that your visitors do want to see.
Sub-Content – Posts
When I say ‘sub’ I don’t mean in a negative way. Posts, in my opinion, are any other topics you would like to add alongside your main pages. Your posts can be smaller and much more to the point. They can be about any topic around your main subject and based loosely or tightly around any topic you want to talk about. For example, my main topics in the pages section are these lessons. My topics I put in the posts sections could be anything from what I think about the latest Google May Core Update or just what SEO news I found interesting.
I see pages as the concrete of your site and posts being more ‘fluid’ in nature.
Pages – Example Content Topic
Let’s look at cats and make an assumption that I have bought “MegaCatFood.com”. I don’t know much about cats but I know enough to start thinking about different topics.
So, my first page will have the titles “Cats and everything about them” right?
You need to think about the main pages/posts you want, and the core subjects you want on your site first. What are the cornerstone subjects that people want to come to your site for? Your audience?
Your site is “MegaCatFood.com” so your cornerstone topics need to be around cat food! At the start of your site you need to make it clear about what you are all about and that, of course, is cat food.
So, after my home page and the ‘about me’ page I would like to write some content around that cornerstone subject – cat food.
Without even knowing about cat food I can think of some main topics I would (or think) my visitors to read about, such as:
- Cat Food Types
- Organic Cat Food
- Cat Food Costs
- Ingredients in Cat Food
And so on.
I know that my audience are going to be more informal in nature so I would not write:
“Today I want to show you cat food types and their ingredience as this is very important. You are a cat owner and it is a legal requirement you look after your cat in a healthy way.”
The visitor is going to hate that and it’s very patronising to say the least. Instead I may write something like:
“Confused by the many cat food types? I was too! In this section of my site, I wanted to share some important information that I thought other cat lovers, like you, may find useful. Please do share your thoughts after reading this about your own cat food stories!”
Okay, so it’s not great but, considering I know nothing about cat food, you can see that I am starting in a very informal way and that will lead on to the main discussion points.
As I am focussing on “Cat food types” I don’t want to then veer off into other topics, I want to save them for later. However, I may say “…..I will look at cat food costs in another article which you can find out about here” and then link to that page too.
So, stay on point as that is what you visitors want to read about. Linking within your website will be discussed later so just concentrate on content for now (see……I’m staying on point!).
Posts – Example Content
As already inferred, posts and pages are not that much different, but I just ‘see’ them as being different from a web design point of view.
When I write a post, it tends to be something that has either popped into my head that I want to share, something I have been asked, or something I have seen on the news.
I’ve just seen a worrying topic discussed on the news about how cats are being neglected due to the Covid 19 pandemic. So, I may write a short article (post) starting:
“Today I watch an interesting yet worrying news piece that concerned cats and the current pandemic. I wanted to share some useful numbers with you in case anyone out there is having concerns……………..”. And so on.
So you can see, the post is topical and just a sharing of my thoughts at that moment. It’s in my ‘blog’ section and kept away from my pages (cornerstone) content unless I want to share a link in there somewhere of course.
Don’t forget though – posts can be formal and informal too!
How do I Know Where to Start?
This is something I get asked all the time. You need to think that you are telling your friend about something you know. Don’t over think it – just talk naturally and start writing. If your friend was sat in front of you, how would you tell them the information you want to share? Try talking into a voice recorder or just start writing notes down on a piece of paper. The longer you sit there trying to ‘think’ about how you should write, you could have already written 500 words probably.
Remember, you can edit the content when you have finished or at any other point you wish. For now, just get your ideas down but do try to think about that ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ tone.
Research if you need to but really you should already have a very good idea of what you are talking about. Research should be to back-up what you already know or to supplement your thoughts and pages/posts, for example:
“Cat food types can vary, depending on where you live to the type of cat you have. According to Mr Cat Clever of Kitty University, there are “100,00 cat types in this world and most have different dietary needs”. You can then put a link to that research or quote origin to make you content even more ‘proper’.
Page/Post Length or Word Count
Again, this is always debated in the world of SEO and Website Design, but you make your page as long as you want it to be. Don’t let anyone tell you that it should be XXX length or otherwise.
You will have people arguing that it should be 3000 words long as Google ‘likes that’ and will rank it more. You will have people saying, “content should only say what it needs to say in a brief way” and anecdotal nonsense like that. It’s your content/page so you make it as long as you ‘think’ it should be.
I am always getting told that I waffle on but who cares! This is my site to I keep writing until I think there is nothing more I could add.
I already touched upon how I see pages and posts as being different (kind of) so here is an example of a posts I may write. People are big enough to pick and choose what they read and take from this content so it’s really not a concern…..to me.
As an example – to this point this article is roughly 2080 words. By the time I have finished it will be about 300 words as I always have that target in my head but if it is shorter or longer…so be it.
Just Text in Content?
Not always. Again, you can put whatever you want in your content. If you believe you can say more with pictures, then use pictures.
I like to read so I use text a lot more. I will use pictures when I need to give clear examples, even of info graphs at times. You need to find out what is right for your content and what works for your visitors.
For my pages I use a lot of text but for my posts they tend to be much simpler and I like to add more pictures in that content.
Some people like to embed videos too and, by the time you read this, I may have updated this to add a quick video tutorial too!
Sourcing Information and Content
There you are, all ready to write a post or page and you run out of ideas and think “I know, I could just copy some content”. No one will know, right?
Wrong. I have often seen content being stolen or slightly changed to try and look ‘original’ – just don’t. Not only are you stealing someone else’s hard work but you are just setting yourself up to fail. You will be caught out and the big search engines can also tell if your content is original or not.
Not only the legal issues but also the fact that you will lose the trust of your visitors if found to be ripping off content from other places.
You may consider getting writers to write content for you but, again, you will get better at writing and just need to remember that things take time. Be patient and forgiving of your own writing and you will be proud of what you achieve rather than filling your site with writing that does not read the same as it’s written by 50 different people. Again, guest posts are different but, when you first start out, these are not something you would normally consider at this stage.
SPAG – Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar in your content
I will be the first to admit that my SPAG is terrible at times. That’s what I believe makes me an honest writer. I make mistakes and will admit to them. I sometimes write content when I’m tired or not feeling the best and I will later read that content and be horrified. Again, I can edit and change it later but it’s also great to check you work over and over again.
Get someone else to check you content too and ask people to leave comments. You’re human so it’s natural that something may not read correctly or just needs tweaking – especially so if the language you’re writing in is not your first language!
Always use spelling, punctuation and grammar suggestions or sites/apps such as Grammarly. Do not beat yourself up if you think you have written something bad! Leave it and come back to it later.
Content Writing Conclusion
So, there is a brief lesson on some of the core elements of content writing that you need to consider, from style of writing to the question of posts versus pages.
Again, try not to use this as a point by point guide but instead use it as information you can consider to form your own opinions on what your site and content should look like.
Something missing or needing more clarity? Any ideas for others that you think people may find useful? Then please do add it to the comments section below!
Be Fab – Be You – Be Creative