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Writing Website Content + Auditing Website Content
In this section of the website, we explore the formats, techniques, and secrets of writing excellent content for websites.
This section contains not just guides, templates, and similar articles related to the craft of writing website page content, but also you can find many articles that are actual examples of the content.
On this page, there are two sections, on the first, there is a simplified checklist of how to write content for a web page, followed by a simplified list of website content SEO techniques, also known as on-page SEO techniques.
The second and last section is a list of sixteen different content formats that are good fits for website pages. The formats have a recommended quantity of words for each one of them.
Content Writing on Websites
Any website page with more than around 400 words of text can be considered content rather than copy.
I know this differentiation may sound arbitrary to you, but it serves me well. Differentiating copy from content helps you draw a line between informative and sales-oriented types of content.
How to Write a Page of Website Content
Easily write a page of content following these guidelines.
Pick Topic and Keyword
The very first thing you have to do before starting to write an article is to figure two things out:
A) The topic, or what the article is going to be about.
B) The keyword, or the word or sentence related to the topic that other persons are searching for, will make your article both easy to find and valuable.
Pick the Article’s Format
With the topic and keyword figured out, you must decide the format of the article. The format must match the topic of both the article and the website.
For example, if the website that will have the article is an e-commerce site, then an appropriate format would be a product review.
This is not a by-the-numbers decision you have to make, but just have some common sense about what format lends itself better to the type of content and website.
You can even invent your article format with whatever structure and length of words you decide.
The bottom line about article format is that you don’t need to respect the number of words in each format.
The standard length of each format is just a guideline. Unless you are assigned by someone else to write a specific format, you don’t have to follow the conventional lengths.
Decide on the Article’s Word Count
This step isn’t a by-the-numbers decision like the previous one, but it helps to know the number of words that each format has. It pretty much depends on the format you pick, since each one requires a specific length.
Just make it longer than 400-700 words. Before pieces below those numbers are more copywriting than articles.
If you pick a high number of words, just don’t fluff it when you run out of things to write. If you can’t come up with additional content to reach your objective, call it a day. In other words, don’t repeat yourself, stuff the article with useless sentences or be wordy on purpose to reach the objective.
Assess Your Store of Knowledge
You might be able to write an article from start to finish without needing to do any research. This is called writing from experience. This works, but up to a certain point.
You can’t write from experience all the time. Sometimes you think you can, but after a few hundreds of words, you realize that you ran out of things to say and you still have a long way to go to reach the length you decided to make it.
If that happens, just don’t babble, be wordy on purpose, and/or repeat yourself. Your readers will see through it. When that happens, it’s time to hit the research process.
You will produce your best, most valuable content when you know the playing field to a tee (know everything already available on the subject), and when you make an effort to discover new angles to the topic that nobody did already exploit.
Besides personal experience, this is the only way to create real valuable content. So, if your article is not based on personal experience, the research process has two steps:
A) Know everything already available on the keyword and topic of your article. Search engines, websites, and pages are your friend to research this.
B) Find angles for the article that are still unexploited. For this phase, books, academic papers, documentary movies, and people are your friends.
Start writing the article
With all the work of the previous five steps done, you can sit down in front of the word processor and start to write.
Something I learned early on was to translate everything I know or researched for the article into what are going to be the article’s sections.
You do this by identifying the most encompassing and important sub-topics of the topic. Make a list as soon as you identify them in your mind.
When you run out of sub-topics, convert each one into a sub-heading (h2-h6) and start to write under them.
For good search engine optimization, your article should have:
1) One to three H2 Headings
2) One to seven-eight H3 Headings
3) Whatever makes sense to you of H4 - H6 headings.
While you are doing this, pay special attention to what each subtopic is, and if other of the subtopics aren’t too much related to it.
If they are, you will have to group them, meaning some will start as H2s but you will find that it makes more sense to nest them under other H2s, making them H3s.
When you reach your length objective, proceed to step 7.
Let it Rest
When you finish your article, don’t do anything. Just close the word processor and let it rest. Don’t spell check it, don’t revise it, don’t read it. Do nothing.
Just forget about it until the next day.
Revise / Rewrite
The day after yes, re-read it, revise, and edit it. What sounded great or okay yesterday may appear not that good today, and now is the moment to revise the sentences, edit the flow, and restructure it, if you think it needs it.
After you edited it, give it a pass through at least two tools:
A spell checker: will catch all of your orthographic errors.
A grammar checker: will catch all of your grammatical errors.
You can use your word processor’s spell checker, and then give it a pass through a tool like LanguageTool.
Sometimes, to save time, it’s better to use a tool that does both things at once, like for instance Grammarly.
If you are a perfectionist, after you corrected for orthographic and syntactic errors, you can give it a pass through a readability tool, like Hemingway.
Hemingway will color all the difficult sentences of the text, and you will be able to fix them to make the article more readable.
Of course, you can prevent the need for a tool like Hemingway by developing good writing practices and being careful of writing simple sentences when you write.
Yet, that is not always possible. Each one has her or his writing style, and one needs good discipline to write like a Mark Twain. Twain was a literary genius, if you input an entire book by him on Hemingway, you will see that it comes up with 0 difficult sentences.
Also, sometimes it is good to give your content a pass through a plagiarism checker like Duplichecker.
If you don’t know how many images or photos to source for your article, follow this simple formula that I read once on the web. Divide the number of words by 350. The result is the number of images your article should have.
Another rule of thumb is using 3-4 images. One at the very top, before the text begins, and then one below each of the H2s of the article.
That’s it, everything is done and now it’s time to publish it. Just make sure that from wherever you cut copy the text, paste it into the site’s CMS editor, that it pastes correctly, and the formatting is not skewed in the process.
If the formatting funks up when you paste it in the site’s editor, like for instance, adding extra carrier returns, or eating up blank lines, then I can give you two recommendations.
One, save the article in HTML before you copy it to the CMS. If still pastes wrong, then paste it in an HTML cleaner, like html-cleaner.com, and clean it.
You will probably lose some of the formatting but nothing too terrible.
Two, if that doesn’t work, the last resort, and one that is extreme but works, is to paste the text on Windows Notepad or another text editor which lacks formatting and then copy it to the CMS from there.
If you do this you will lose all the formatting and will have to set the subheadings all over again. You might even need to add carrier returns and new lines here and there sometimes. But at least you will know that the text you pasted was plain and the formatting errors you will be correcting are from the CMS only, and no formatting error from the word processor will have carried over.
I struggled a lot with this when pasting my content in Joomla and WordPress directly from the word processor I use. So most of the time I used the extreme method of converting it to plain text by pasting it on a text editor, before pasting it on the CMS’s editor.
Later I discovered that if I pasted it on Grammarly, and after correcting it, I copied it from Grammarly to the CMS’s editor, it carried the formatting without errors.
SEO Techniques for Website Content
You must apply these techniques during step 6 of the method in the previous section. Implementing them after you finish writing the content may skew the content.
Even if you are sure that you applied these SEO techniques, you should make analyzing the content for SEO a second nature, pretty much like giving the content passes through grammar and spell checking tools.
Two good examples for two of the most popular CMS are Rank Math for WordPress and Route66 for Joomla.
They analyze the content and give it a SEO Score. You should strive to achieve at the very least 80 points of SEO score in each of your site’s content pages.
Use the keyword in the title
Use the keyword in the first paragraph of the content
Use the keyword throughout the whole article
Don’t pile many consecutive paragraphs that lack the keyword
Use the keyword in H2, H3, H4 headings
Use the keyword in the metadata of the piece’s media
Apply emphasis (bold type) to one instance of the keyword
Create an internal link that uses the keyword as anchor text
Add a no-follow external link (don’t use the keyword in its anchor text)
Use the keyword in the last paragraph of the content
Write a metasearch description that includes your keyword
Write for humans, not for search engines
Don’t stuff keywords in the content or the metadata
Writing Website Content: Content Formats
These are sixteen of the most common content formats for web pages. Bear in mind that each one has a specific structure or template, and a recommended length.
Recommended Word Count: 500 to 1500 words.
Case studies are among the most coveted kinds of content for a website. A case study
Recommended Word Count: 600 to 1000 words
Blog posts are simple forms of content that generally touch a single subject. They can have a few sections, divided by appropriate headings, but they generally don’t.
Blog posts are generally news-related or time-related. While they can be evergreen content, the typical blog posts generally aren’t.
Recommended Word Count: 500 to 1000 words
Think pieces are a recent invention. The original think piece is from 500 to 1000 words. Still, there are conflicting accounts on how long a think piece should be. Mainstream media think pieces are from 5000 to 10000 words.
If you are going to use the think piece as website content, I’d recommend you to make it 1000 or more words.
Recommended Word Count: 1000 to 1500 words
Any kind of content that doesn’t fit the blog post parameters, that is evergreen and that is up to 1500 words can be called a short article.
Recommended Word Count: 1500 to 2500 words
Long articles are the most common format for web page content. Content writing on websites tends to follow a standard length that keeps on increasing all the time.
The standard minimum for SEO used to be 400 words, more than a decade ago. Then it became 600 words, many SEO analysis tools still use 600 as the bare minimum. After that, it used to be 1000 words, around half-decade ago.
Nowadays, the standard minimum for web page content seems to be 1500 words.
Recommended Word Count: 2500 to 3500 words
Features are exhaustive pieces on a topic or a single aspect of a topic. ranging from If you want to create high-value content, you should write features.
Features are a sought-after type of content, and well-researched and written features can open you doors to the websites of different publications.
Recommended Word Count: more than 3500 words
The same format as regular features. More effort is involved, but the longer length is not a guarantee that it will be bought or published.
Recommended Word Count:?
How-tos are a type of guide that focuses on a single procedure to achieve a single outcome.
Recommended Word Count: ?
Research pieces are documents similar to academic papers. Research pieces can have many sections. Examples of research piece sections could be specifications, for whom the research was conducted, an outline of the research process.
Recommended Word Count: ?
Corporate or business profiles to describe a company or business to the public in general and potential investors in particular.
Recommended Word Count: 4500 to 6750
A dossier is a collection of pages of descriptive content about a specific subject. It generally contains different sections, each one of them informing the facts of a given aspect of the topic it treats.
Recommended Word Count: ?
A personal experience article is a relatively short piece of content that is similar, but more informal than a case study. It is related to the blog post, in the sense that it doesn’t have a rigid structure, and it can be opinionated, but without being biased.
Recommended Word Count: ?
An article that recommends the reader or guides the reader in some direction. It must have proof that the advice it gives is better than, or that it is the right or true way of doing something.
Recommended Word Count: 2000 to 3500 or more
There are many types of essays. Examples of different formats: argumentative, personal, expository.
Recommended Word Count: more than 1500 words
Rich content is an article that includes elements that may or may not require copywriting. When creating a rich content article, the emphasis is on the variety of components that make up the article.
Recommended Word Count: 1200 to 2500 words
A product review is an objective analysis of a product. It’s not as long as a buying guide, and not as structured as a case study.
Recommended Word Count: 2500 to around 6000 words
I did let the best for the last spot on the list. Pillar content is a mammoth article containing evergreen content with all of the target keywords for a website or a section of a website, and then some more.
A pillar content page can be considered a master or parent page, and it contains as much exhaustive content as possible. That’s because they are designed to link to the child articles, the articles one level below in the website’s structure, and also for those child articles to link back to it.
Some people call pillar content pages money pages, others call these pieces skyscraper articles.
© Martin Wensley, 2022 — Writing Website Content