There you are: seated comfortably with your arms resting on the desk and your face glowing in the pale-blue hue emanating from the screen before you. Armed with only a cup of coffee, your brilliance, and a list of keywords that you either:
- painstakingly ferreted out of mountains of data you probably weren’t qualified to assess
- were provided by a digital marketing agency
You’re preparing to step out of internet obscurity and into online prominence: Today is the day you’re going to optimize the content on your website.
“Wait a minute,” you think to yourself as the reality of this situation casts a shadow over the confidence you just felt in every fiber of your being, “I haven’t written anything since I was in school.”
Ah, school… You reflect with fondness on the days when you knew everything.
Speaking of school, if you were born before 2000, you’re familiar with Robert Frost’s famous line, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” and it’s likely you can relate to the poet’s words on a spiritual level at this moment. The only difference between the two of you is that Frost’s yellow was born from mother nature while yours hums down from your office’s ceiling lights. Regardless, you still have a lot in common with the poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner — especially when it comes to the crossroads thing. Where were we?
Did you just space out? Don’t worry — the hardest word to type is the first one.
Back on Earth, you’ll find that you are still being confronted by the plight of having to decide whether it’s better to follow the path everyone takes and hire a professional writer to create your website’s content or brave the road less traveled and write it yourself. And, more likely than not, time is of the essence because you waited until the last minute.
In case the best choice isn’t apparent, allow us to advise: Hire the professional! However, if your confidence hasn’t wavered and you are up to the challenge of writing optimized web copy, allow us to advise again in the following paragraphs.
*Disclaimer: This information won’t help you sell yourself with the same kind of whimsical prose as one of the 20th century’s most celebrated literary figures; but, it will certainly give you some of the tools you’ll need to navigate the aforementioned road less traveled.
Tip #1: Read Something
You probably don’t want to hear it, but you won’t write anything worth reading (by a person or a robot — more on that later) unless you expose yourself to something worth reading. It doesn’t have to be a book – find an article in a newspaper or a credible online publication and take note of the author’s style. Pay special attention to the flow of his or her thoughts and how those thoughts are delivered (think about their order). We promise, if you just start hammering keys after not having read or written anything for a while, you aren’t going to produce anything that deserves attention.
Tip #2: Make Sure the Story is in the Headers
If someone only reads your headers, he or she should know exactly what the page is about. For example, a plumber in Newtown, PA who offers emergency services 24/7 but also wants to let customers know they replace septic tanks would have headers like these on the corresponding page:
- Emergency Plumbing Services for Residents of Newtown, PA and Surrounding Neighborhoods
- 24/7 Emergency Plumbing
- We Also Take Care of Bigger Jobs, Like Septic Tank Replacement
- Call 215-555-5555 Right Away If You Have a Plumbing Emergencies
Chances are your mom is the only person who will actually read everything you write (your spouse will lie to avoid hurting your feelings and your dad was never much of a reader). Regardless, for the skimmers (aka everyone): Keep the story short, sweet, and visible by putting it in headers. (We call those H-tags in the biz. You’re welcome.)
Tip #3: Word Count Matters!
It’s a good idea to provide 500-1,000 words of copy for your optimized pages. So, if your page has four headers like the example above, plan to write about 200 words per header. And, yes: You should definitely write the headers first. Why? Because that will give you a solid outline for the page and, before you know it, you’ll be all done!
Tip #4: Keep Quality at the Front of Your Mind
Don’t neglect the copy beneath the headers! No single visitor will read all of the words on a given page, but everyone who lands on that page will read some of them. That’s why your copy has to be informative. Here’s what I mean:
- Tell them where you are! Try to mention each specific location you serve. It’s hard to do, so we recommend bulleted lists to save time. That said, if you’re targeting a national audience: Step away from the computer and dial 215-946-1046 because there is virtually no chance you’ll succeed in such a competitive space without the help of a professional writer who specializes in optimized web copy.
- Incorporate your key terms 4-5 times each per 500 words. Again, it’s tricky to do this, and there are no shortcuts. Anyone who tells you there are is a bad writer, and you shouldn’t trust them. The only solution is to write thoughtfully. Give yourself time to work, don’t be near anything distracting, close your browser, don’t think about Robert Frost, etc.
- Remember your audience. Don’t speak technically if you’re targeting regular people like me. Also, don’t speak plainly if you’re targeting a more educated audience.
- Use this as a chance to show off your expertise and flex a little! Why? Well, if you’re working with on page recommendations that were provided by someone who knows anything about website optimization, then you can expect the number of eyes that grace your copy to be roughly — I don’t know — let’s be conservative and say somewhere in the trillions.
Jokes aside: Every word has to matter because people aren’t the only ones who are going to read your content. In case you didn’t know, Google has robots that can read — and those robots are going to decide whether or not you’re on the first page of search results. How? By evaluating the quality of your website’s content. This is 100% factual and you can learn more here.
Tip #5: Links (That’s the Best I Can Do for This One)
Finally, you have to link to other pages on your website because the robots you just met crave structure and hierarchy. Without getting too technical, linking to the other pages satiates their thirst. Have you ever seen a thirsty robot? It’s sad.
How many links should you include? Well, a good rule of thumb is 3-5 links per 500 words.
Tip #6: Proofread Everything
If you see the mistake, congratulations on being a troll. You’ll fit right in under the yellow woods’ bridge, and you’ll make a fine writer. If you missed it: We are on the sixth tip in a blog that only promises five. You will most likely not make a fine writer and these woods are too lovely, dark and deep for you.
If you need more help, feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected]. I love talking about writing.