Hey guys, Nick here. Do you wonder how to write content that builds trust? This will kick off our series about what we call the Trust Puzzle, a challenge every brand faces when building a presence online. Content is a subset of the Trust Puzzle. Types of content include text, images/graphics and video. Why do we care about good content? Why does it matter? The simple answer—content drives conversion. This article focuses on writing content for the static pages of your site.
As your brand’s primary hub, your website has to speak authentically, eloquently and concisely. Long gone are the days when Google favored awkward, bulging, keyword–stuffed paragraphs of non-sensical vitriol written for the sole purpose of trying to “dominate the front page of Google…” Bleh, good riddance. This does NOT mean keywords are no longer a requirement when building out content for your website, quite the contrary; however, Google’s algorithms now allow for a much more authentic, realistic approach to written content.
What works? Regardless of what kind of content you are writing for your site, whether a services page, a mini biography or a blog article, there are tactics that will always help. Let’s break it down by the numbers:
- Get Past the Blank Canvas
I call it blank canvas syndrome. I tell you to write the content for a page, a week goes by and you tell me, “I’ve got nothing to say!” Yeah you do, it’s just overwhelming to figure out where to begin. If you are anything like me, you tend to overthink both your writing capabilities and your standards. I’m a better editor than writer, something I hate admitting. So, I had to come up with strategies to actually get something written out that I could then edit. The next few points are some of those strategies.
- Let Your Sitemap Be Your Guide
Determine the purpose of the page you are writing. Typically we never start with the home page when writing content for a website. Every subpage on a site has a purpose, lending itself to the overall goal(s) of the site (whatever your site’s conversion goals are) and the home page serves as the nexus for that overall goal. This is where keywords can come in handy. If you know the 2-3 relatable keywords to a page, they can help drive the written conversation you are about to have on that page.
- Does Your Writing Support Your Mission Statement?
Write down your brand’s intent or mission statement. If your brand doesn’t have an intent or mission statement, spend your time figuring that out first. For Square Cow Movers, we came up with “Movers with Manners.” Let your brand’s statement become the lens through which all other content has to pass through. If you start writing something that does not support this statement, delete it and try again.
- Write for a bit
If you are anything like you me, you would now start writing for a little while, then stop after about 30 minutes, look at the jumbled mess you just vomited out of your fingertips, and then start editing. I start teasing out the structure of what I want to convey on a page or a section from the heap I just created, creating headers and/or lists for each section. If you are not like me, you might start by planning out the sections you are going to make on a page before you write. Whatever works, just start writing. After that timer goes off, start organizing and editing. Keep paragraphs 2 – 5 sentences in length and break up sections with headers. It makes reading for the end user so, so much easier.
- Record Yourself (optional endeavor from point number 4)
Maybe talking is more your thing than writing. You can talk about your services and solutions and brand history, etc. If so, then compose a series of questions to ask yourself for each page that needs to be written. Get something you can record yourself with, hit the button and start talking. The transcribed text from that recording is the equivalent of the strategy laid out in the previous point.
- Talk Out Loud To Find Your Writing Voice
Literally, I talk out loud sometimes when I write. In order to imitate another brand, I will come up with a different voice from my own when I speak. If it’s appropriate, sometimes I’ll allow my colloquialisms to come through, or those of my client. For example, the owner of ABC Blind & Drapery, Ken McWilliams, has a wonderful speaking voice. Ken sounds a little like cross between Johnny Cash and Jimmy Stewart in their later years. Still very much the heart and soul of ABC Blind, I speak in Ken’s voice whenever I write for his brand—a Texas gentleman with a kind heart and a passion for the historic brand he has helped cultivate for the past 40 years.
- Know Your Audience
If you are writing in a language other than your native tongue, you may want to consider either hiring a native speaker to help you, or sending your writing to a native speaker who would bluntly tell you if it sounds genuine. Always consider the voice of your intended audience when writing marketing content. Unless I have some gimmick in mind, if I am writing for a New England or Canadian crowd, I will leave the words “y’all” and “folks” out of my vocabulary. If I need to relate to a national audience, I would downplay my southern twang, if not do away with it completely. I’m proud to be a native Texan, but I need to relate to my audience first before they will listen to me.
- No Fluff, No Bull If you sound like this, stop it: “Our service results will shock you! You will be amazed by how incredible our product will save your wallet! Learn how you can make billions by not working at all with our revolutionary whatever! Trust us, you will be amazed!”
It’s okay to be fun or funny, but always be sincere. Telling someone what their reaction will be (ex: This will shock you!) is an immediate turn off. Also, avoid saying things like, “Surely you will find this helpful.” People can make their own decisions and surely you will agree with that.
- Learn Some Grammar Stuff There are lots of great tools online for grammar. Typically, I’ll write first before going back and editing, but oftentimes I’ll refer back to tools like:
- The Comma Queen – Great quick videos, easy to search
- EduFind – An English Grammar Guide
- The Elements of Style – An awesome book to help you write better
Time to start writing content for your website, and if you need help, contact us!