5 Tips for Writing Effective Web Content

Post by Frank Barry - 6.17.2010 - Follow me on Twitter

How important is the Internet? How important is the Internet to you as a nonprofit? Currently, three quarters of Internet users worldwide visit a social network or Blog while online — a 24% increase year over year according to the recent study by Nielsen. Then there’s the staggering statistic about there being over 2,000,000 (yes, that’s over 2 million) Blogs on the Internet. If you stop to think about this for a second (or maybe a few) you’ll soon realize that producing quality web content is a must if you want to succeed online. 

Content Production for the webSo, how do you go about producing great web content? I say start by learning how to write (for the web). There a handful of fundamental tactics that, in general, you should put into practice every time you create content. We’ll talk about five of them below.

Create titles that generate interest

Titles are the very first things people read in their email subject line, RSS reader and Twitter or Facebook feed. You could argue that this is the single most important part of any content you produce because without a great title, people won’t click (and the almighty click is what you’re after, right?) Now, in reality, we know that the meat of your content is the most important, but if you can’t generate enough interest to get a click then all your hard work will be for nothing because no one will ever see your fabulous content. So, what to do about it? Here are a couple resources to get you on your way to creating great titles.


Capture people’s attention with a compelling intro paragraph

We all know that the first couple seconds of a visitor’s time on your site are the most important part of their visit. If you don’t immediately grab their attention by delivering on what your title suggested you’d be talking about, they’ll leave in a heartbeat. The intro paragraph is your opportunity to keep people around. Make sure you take advantage of that real estate by spending extra time carefully crafting your initial few sentences. Here are a couple resources to get you on your way to writing compelling intro paragraphs.


Make sure your content is easy to scan (i.e. headers, bulleted lists, etc.)

OK, so someone clicked on your fancy title, read the first few sentences and is excited about what they are going to learn from you – that’s good news. But understand this – most web readers don’t read every word you write (devastating, I know). Web readers are skilled in their ability to scan pages for useful information. They want to pick out the things that interest them, so make sure your content is structured in a way that makes this process simple. Here are a few simple ideas to get you thinking: Use proper headings to break up sections. Break up sections in easily digested blocks. Keep your sentences short, simple and easy to understand. Use list-type format where appropriate. Here are a couple more resources that will give you practical advice on how to write scannable content for the web.


Use pictures that capture peoples' imaginations

Napoleon Bonaparte said "Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours," roughly translated as "A good sketch is better than a long speech". Others have said things like “A picture is worth a thousand words” (you’ve heard that one I’m sure). Either way, you get the point. Pictures are powerful. They can convey a message, one that you are trying to get across to your readers, better than you could in writing (sometimes). Remember this when producing web content and always try to find compelling imagery to enhance your written word. Here are a couple resources that will teach you how to find great images.


Don’t forget to use links

Hyperlinks are the building blocks of the web – don’t forget to use them! A few of the reasons you want to make sure your content is thoughtfully injected with hyperlinks are: Your readers will be appreciative if you links guide them to useful information. Google and other search engines will like you more which will potentially boost your SEO rankings. If you link to other people’s information/websites you’ll gain their favor for promoting their stuff. Here are a couple resources to get you thinking about hyperlinks a bit more.


Do these types of tactics for producing content apply to nonprofits? Thoughts?

Photo by Wayan Vota


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