How To Write For The Web – A Micro Business Checklist

Writing copy for your website isn’t as simple as sitting down and writing about that you do and how you do it.

Instead you need to create quality content that connects with your target audience, explains why you’re the best person for the job and satisfies the search engines so your pages move up their ranks.

In this post, I’ll provide you with a checklist that helps you create web pages that Google loves whilst keeping your readers engaged and coming back to your website.

Planning stage

At school I was taught to make a plan before starting an essay and I use the same approach with each website page. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the goal for this page?
  • Is it an information page or sales page?
  • What is the one thing the reader must understand after they’ve read the content?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What problem does the target audience have that your service/product will solve?
  • What are the 3 key benefits you want to communicate?
  • What is your call to action?

Keyword research

Keyword research is a key component of your web page so spend time doing your keyword research. There are lots of free tools to help you do this, but think about the following:

  • What is your business about?
  • What keywords is your competition using?

Web page content

When writing a web page the emphasis should be on quality and engagement rather than writing for a search engine.

Google posted some thoughts on its blog on how it views quality content back in May 2011, the post called, “More guidelines on building high-quality sites,” is well worth a read. You should also consider the following:

  • Base your copy on a maximum of three related keywords
  • Your headline should be clear, catchy and include your primary keyword
  • Keep your content length between 250 words (for more sales orientated pages) and 500 words (for more information style pages). Blog posts can be longer but try to keep them under 750 words long otherwise they become too cumbersome to read
  • Refer to the reader as ‘you’
  • Include your keywords towards the beginning of the page, ideally within the first 200 words
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs to keep the page easy to read
  • Break up your content with bullet points, sub-headings, images and white space
  • Don’t keyword stuff, write naturally
  • Include hyperlinks to other pages in your website and to external sources. Copyblogger recommends about 1 hyperlink for every 120 words
  • Check you’re not using a lot of industry jargon
  • Check for typos and grammar. Ask someone else to proof-read it for you
  • Make sure your call to action is clear and specific

Other items to check

You’re nearly there; here are a few technical details to check your copy against and which help tell Google what your pages / website is about:

  • The primary keyword or key phrase should be included near the beginning of your title
  • The title should be less than 72 characters
  • Meta data, such as the description, should be include your keywords
  • The description should be less than 165 characters.
  • Images should have the alt tags filled in with keywords.
  • Headings should be formatted correctly using H1, H2 and H3 tags.
  • Keep the text that links to other web pages (known as the anchor text) specific so your readers know what to expect when they click on the link.
  • Ensure all hyperlinks to external web pages open in a new tab or page so your readers don’t wander off and forget to come back.
  • Is it appropriate to include social sharing buttons on the page and if so have you included them?
  • Have you made any common writing mistakes?

Finally, remember a web page and a web site is not just for Christmas, it’s for life.

So keep your website relevant  regular blogging or adding fresh web pages, updates to existing pages and remove any web pages that are out of date.

micro business actionMicro action

Read the Google post “More guidelines on building high-quality sites”.

Kassia Gardner

Kassia Gardner is the founder of Spindle Tree and an email marketing specialist. Spindle Tree works with businesses, associations and not-for-profits, helping them grow by providing email marketing services, email marketing software, copywriting and proofreading services

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  1. Hi Kassia, This is a very useful checklist. As a professional writer it’s great to see the focus on the planning stage. There’s often a misperception that words just get written, when actually the hardest bit is often creating the concept, finding the right angle and saying the right things. All that takes time. I think good web writing is like an iceberg. What you see disguises the huge amount of work, research, editing and tweaking that has happened below the water before publishing your final polished version 🙂

  2. Hi Kassia,

    I find it interesting you suggest a blog post is less than 750 words. With my experience longer posts actually do very well at gaining social shares & links to them.

    If you look at a lot of highly competitive short tail search terms you will see that many of these articles are 1500-5000 words in length.

    If you also look at many popular websites link profiles via MajesticSEO, Ahrefs or SEOmoz then longer articles have the most links/shares.

    My 4 most shared articles on my blog are all over 2000 words in length. So what I guess I’m trying to say is maybe its a case of writing the write length of post for your audience & quite often longer posts out perform posts split into 2 or 3 in order to meet a 750 word quota.

  3. Hi Chris. Thanks for the great comment. I think there is a perception that shorter posts are more popular because their length makes them easier and therefore more likely to be read.

    However, as you have pointed out, there is also lots of evidence to suggest that longer posts work really well. But for a long post to be successful it has to be written well. It also needs to be structured for an easy read and presented so it doesn’t feel like a chore to plough through. I think the lesson here is that valuable content will get shared, and a long post that really delves into a subject is more likely to get bookmarked, saved and referred back to as a reference.

    I for one am a big fan of long posts 🙂

  4. Hi Chris and Georgina,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Long blog posts do work, I won’t disagree with that, and some of my posts are considerably longer. But I guess the point I was trying to make was to stop people rambling on and to be succinct. If you’re not then you can loose people before you make your point or the sale.

    As always, and as you mentioned, you need to know your objective for each post and write for your audience. Not everyone does this and there are lots of examples of un-engaging posts out on the web.
    Kassia Gardner recently posted..5 ways to improve your sales emailsMy Profile

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