The 14 Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Web Content
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When done properly, web content is a powerful engine driving your digital presence. When done poorly, it’s potentially detrimental to your brand’s image. That’s why it’s essential that your team pays attention to modern do’s and don’ts of content creation and marketing. Things are always changing, and it pays to keep up with the latest advice.
Regardless of whether you’re blogging or writing web content, these tips will ensure that you’re abiding by the latest SEO regulations, standards, and more.
In this article, we will share with you our free worksheets and the following tools we use in our content writing strategy:
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. DO – Plan Your Web Content Using a Silo
One of the first pieces of advice we want to give you is to use a silo structure in your content strategy. What’s a silo structure, you ask:
It’s a method of website organization that places content in hierarchical groupings. You’ll create categories – and subcategories – in a top-down structure. This allows for easy website navigation, as well as powerful internal linking.
A typical silo structure begins with the “homepage” of the website, then moves on to the silo pages, support articles, blogs, and more. All of these pages can be linked through quality backlinks – a huge boost to your SEO and overall organization.
Search engine crawlers love these silo structures. They help them to crawl, index, and rank websites. Additionally, they will begin to learn more about your brand’s overall topics and area of expertise – which then benefits your credibility in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
Foxxr’s Process for Creating and Implementing Silos
1. Identify Your Top Pages
The first thing we’ll do is identify your top pages. Keep in mind that this is not the homepage – but an internal page that links to the homepage and holds the primary keyword in its title. We use the Ahrefs Site Explorer to identify your top-performing service pages, then go from there.
2. Find the Supporting Articles
Next, we check your existing articles (if any) to find supporting pieces of content. You may already have plenty of supporting articles to fill out your silo structure. If you don’t, it’s time to brainstorm some supporting topics.
3. Pick Out the Right Keywords
Once we’ve identified your silo pages and supporting articles, we’ll buckle down on your silo keywords. What are the conversational words or phrases that aren’t on the silo page but fit within its category?
We use Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool to find phrases (aka long-tail keywords). Keep in mind that these keywords should ideally have a difficult score below 30 and a search volume higher than 100.
4. Choose Great Article Titles
As we begin to fill out your silo categories with excellent topic ideas, our experts will ensure you’re using the right titles. To do this, we perform a manual lookup on Google to find what competitors are ranking for, then come up with blog titles that rival your competition’s posts. Not only is this a great way to spark article ideation, but it’s also an excellent method of staying up-to-date on the popular topics of your industry.
5. Boost Your Internal Links
Lastly, we make it a point to take advantage of internal link opportunities within your silo structure. Build an intelligent, sensible web of page links in your content to fuel SEO crawling and reader engagement.
We use a Silo slide to track and communicate with the clients to share our strategy.
We then use the following internal linking template to make sure we are implementing internal links correctly.
2. DO – Audit and Repurpose Old Articles
Now for our second big “do.” When it comes to SEO, an old article isn’t useless. Even years after its initial publication date, a dusty piece of content can be polished to serve new SEO purposes on behalf of your website.
Keep track of all of your old articles with a master content audit worksheet. You can then review all of these old pieces to learn which are bringing in organic traffic and backlinks. If an article is performing poorly, you can revisit it to optimize it for more successful results.
Not only can you update these old posts to include proper keywords and information, but you can also transform them into “new” forms of content. These include eBooks, emails, videos, checklists or listicles, SlideShares, podcasts, or more.
When you “repurpose” an old article by adapting it into a new form, you’re taking some of your previous work and breathing new life into it. It’s a great way to build a web of links within your own content network, as well as an excellent tactic for dealing with content burnout and stale topic ideas.
According to a survey by Curata, only about one-third of leading marketers report using a systematic process to update/repurpose an old article. Don’t be one of these marketers – take advantage of this great opportunity to churn out better, more fruitful content.
How Foxxr Conducts Old Content Audits
1. Create an Audit Sheet
As we recommended, we keep all of our existing articles (per website) tracked in a spreadsheet (see the worksheet download link above). This allows us to accurately survey and audit every piece of content, not just our most popular or recent pieces.
2. Import All Pages from Your Sitemap
We don’t just track the titles or topics. We import all of your URLs and your complete sitemap. When it comes to auditing your content, our team leaves no stone unturned.
3. Import Your Google Analytics Data
Within our spreadsheet, we keep track of your Google Analytics behavior, organic traffic, etc. Our team needs to understand exactly how your posts are performing, both in front of audiences and with Google, and Bing.
4. Import Your Link Data
Using Ahrefs, we then find your best links and export them. We’ll also log into your Google Search Console to find your “top linked” pages. All of these links are placed into the “Links” tab of your audit spreadsheet.
5. Sort Your Pages and Posts
Our spreadsheet and in-depth survey allow us to sort your content by a variety of elements, including (but not limited to):
- Page type
6. Identify the Right Articles
We have all of your data – now it’s time to understand which posts should be updated and/or repurposed. Our team makes notes on the best candidates, then runs them by the client to determine the best course of action.
7. Find the Keyword Phrase and Run Through POP
Once we’ve picked a general topic, we determine the keyword phrase and run a report through the Page Optimizer Pro (POP) extension. This helps us identify more keywords and phrases, as well as obtain recommendations from POP.
8. Create an Outline
Now we’ve got all of the relevant information and recommendations. It’s time to create an outline based on what we’ve learned and what we want this article to do. This outline is then sent to one of our top writers to begin the repurposing process in earnest.
3. DO – Rewrite and Optimize of Service Page Content
A great way to optimize your website is to take a look at your service pages. What keywords are you using there? Which ones are “secondary,” and can you include more variations that draw readers in?
To find more related, supporting keywords, use tools like:
- Ahrefs Question Keywords
- Answer the Public
- People Also Ask (on Google)
Updating your service page regularly ensures that you’re including the most modern, popular keywords. Make sure you’re using these new keywords wherever possible, including in the:
- Page title
- Internal links
- Image alt text
- Anchor text
- Title tags
Once you’ve updated your written content with keywords, submit the page via GSC for indexing.
How Foxxr Approaches Optimizes Service Web Pages
1. Select the Service Page
First things first: we determine which service page needs to be optimized. We may pick one that’s outdated and no longer effective, or we may select a page that lacks proper SEO features (like well-researched keywords).
2. Research Secondary and Supporting Keywords
Speaking of keywords, we’ll then craft a list of secondary and supporting keywords for the page using Google’s auto-suggestions and other tools (like POP). We use our keyword spreadsheet to keep track of all the research we do.
3. Run the Page on POP
Next, we run your service page on POP to see what recommendations the extension gives us. These could be related to keyword usage or general optimization tips.
4. Create an Outline and Send to the Writer
Once we have those recommendations in hand, it’s time to come up with a detailed outline. We can then send that outline to a top writer to begin the writing process.
5. Update the Page with Keywords and Images
The page’s text isn’t the only element we address. We’ll also optimize your images to ensure they have proper alt descriptions and rights. Then, our team surveys the text to confirm keywords have been placed strategically and properly.
6. Optimize the Page Title
Lastly, let’s look at that page title and description. These are very important, so before we submit the optimized page to GSC for indexing, we make sure they’re good to go.
4. DO – Develop and Optimize New Service Page Content
We just talked about adding keywords to optimize old service pages. Now, let’s discuss how you can develop and optimize new service pages with the right content.
Our first recommendation is to select a “primary” keyword for the page. You can do this by searching the subject/topic in:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Search Console Keyword Data
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
Once you have your primary keyword, it’s time to find your secondary word or phrase. This keyword should help you optimize even more for the top-level phrase you selected, but perhaps add more specificity or another element.
As we talked about in tip number three, ensure that your primary keyword appears in all the right places such as your page title, H1, subheadings, anchor text, etc. After that’s done, submit your brand new service page for indexing.
How Foxxr Develops New Service Pages
1. Start a Primary Keyword Spreadsheet
When developing and optimizing new service pages, we begin with a spreadsheet. This is where we track the primary keywords, title tags, competitor information (URLs and titles), keyword data, and more. Take a look at our Master Workbook to get a feel for how we do things.
2. Discover Your Secondary Keywords
Once we’ve gotten the spreadsheet ball rolling, we dig deeper to find secondary keywords. Our team uses these to form a group of keywords that trigger related searches, Google trends, and more. These secondary clusters are then used to craft H2s and H3s on the new page.
3. Use POP to Find LSI and Semantic Keywords
Again, our team turns to the trusty Page Optimizer Pro for help finding other keywords and phrases. We craft your silo page, then run it through the POP extension to find as many as possible.
4. Send to the Writer
With the keywords and general outline prepared, we turn to one of our top-tier writers to begin the content creation process. We handpick all of our writers to ensure quality and talent.
5. Approve Keyword Usage and Formatting
After the writer returns the first draft, we double-check to ensure that the primary keywords appear on the new page’s:
- Title tag
- Anchor text
- Image alt descriptions
5. DO – Write New Blog Articles Regularly
Whenever your brand adds a new service or product, you’ll need to start ranking for that term – as well as your old keywords and subjects.
Our recommendation is to check Ahrefs’ Organic Keyword 2.0 tool to find keyword trends and a rank tracker tool. This will allow you to group priority keywords which then lead to topic ideas for new articles – and new ranking possibilities.
To start ranking for a new topic or service entirely, you need to be consistent with your content about the subject. Research has shown that the more you write on a specific topic, the more traction you will gain with readers and search engines.
Image Source: Marketing Insider Group
As you begin cranking out this regular content, ensure that you understand the goal of your efforts.
- Are you posting just for the sake of posting?
- Or are you working on building trust?
- Are you selling something, or are you encouraging readers to think about buying?
Understanding your priorities and objective will ensure that your content stays on track.
Foxxr’s Approach to New Article Generation
1. Identify Your Priorities
When we set out to create new content on behalf of a client, the first thing we do is learn what’s important to them. Is their priority their brand image? Selling products? Informing readers? All of the above?
2. Lay Out Your Goals
Next, let’s put those priorities to paper and turn them into achievable goals. We don’t stick with vague objectives like “get more readers.” Instead, we’ll help you formulate SMART goals that include a timeline, success markers, etc.
3. Generate Topic Ideas + Titles
Now that we know what we want your new posts to do, it’s time to brainstorm the best topic ideas and titles. We’ll do this by researching your primary keywords, looking at competitors’ posts, and evaluating what you’ve already written about.
4. Evaluate the Keywords
After picking a topic, we do in-depth research to find the best keywords to focus on. We’ll track primary, secondary, LSI, and semantic keywords, then discuss how to best include them as we generate a content outline.
5. Send the POP Guidelines to the Writer
Using the Page Optimizer Pro extension, we’ll come up with solid recommendations and keywords to include in the article. These guidelines will then be sent to the writer, who we hand select to handle this particular web content project.
6. Publish the Article with Images
No post is complete without the right graphics, pictures, and design elements. We take care of those – all images we use are copyright-free.
7. Submit It to GSC
Finally, we’ll submit your new article to the Google Search Console. We take the URL of the page, then paste it in the GSC to request indexing.
6. DO – Understand Your Buyer’s Journey Using Marketing Data
In most traditional marketing landscapes, the buyer’s journey is divided into three stages. Understanding these different stages and what your readers need to move forward is a key part of writing web content.
When you write for customers in the “awareness” stage, you’re encouraging them to learn about an opportunity. These consumers are researching, looking for a solution to a query – and you’re there to provide that for them.
During the “consideration” stage, the reader is actually evaluating your website or brand as a potential solution. This is a key stage to focus – your content could make or break the consumer’s decision to purchase with your company.
In the final stage, “decision” or “buy,” the reader finally wants to pull the trigger. They’re ready to commit to your brand, and your content should encourage that commitment.
Based on our considerable experience, content marketing proves the most effective in stages one and two. Blogs, social media pages, and other forms of content are great ways to draw people in as they become aware of your brand and conduct further research.
If you’re not already familiarizing yourself with content that matches these first two stages, do so now. If you have no idea what stage your content is targeting, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your strategy and give your content more purpose.
7. DO – Turn to Long-Form Content
Finally, our last “do.”
The days of cranking out surface-level, 300-word blogs are long gone. Today, readers are looking for articles that go beyond the obvious. They want blogs that are thousands of words long and articles that cover more.
Some studies have shown that pages struggle to rank in SERPs if they don’t have at least 1000 words.
If you want your content to be shared and to rank in Google or Bing, we recommend maintaining word counts above a thousand. Generally speaking, the longer your article is, the more backlinks and traffic it will likely incur.
Additionally, as Sachin Kamdar on Forbes says, “…long-form content doesn’t keep visitors on your site for as long as you’d think, it does tend to convert readers from passers-by to occasional visitors.” If you want people to keep coming back, you need to focus on length, in-depth content, not just surface-level posts.
8. DON’T – Skimp on Thorough Research
What many don’t realize is that a huge aspect of content creation is researching. No matter what topic you’re writing about, you need to do your homework. All content creators should understand their subject backward and forward before putting a metaphoric pen to paper.
Skipping research can:
- Contribute to the spread of misinformation.
- Backfire on your brand’s reputation when you publish false claims.
- Diminish your brand’s credibility as a field expert.
There are multiple kinds of research that should be conducted prior to creation and publication.
The first is “primary research.” This includes first-hand sources. You’ll often obtain valuable primary information from interviewees, pollees, co-workers, and other people in your circle. Just be sure to explain where and how you got this primary information, should you include it in your piece.
Image Source: QuestionPro
There’s also “secondary research,” which comes from other people’s studies and data collection. If you cite a third-party scientific study or poll, then you’re referencing “secondary” sources.
A great piece of web content combines both primary and secondary knowledge to provide a wealth of information to your audience. Encourage your readers to trust and rely on your brand by offering them content that’s 100 percent credible.
9. DON’T – Rely on Heavy, Long Paragraphs
The modern reader has a short attention span – most likely less than eight seconds. That means you have very little time to grab their attention and get them hooked on your content.
If your paragraphs are long, readers will likely balk at the idea of “skimming” so much text at once. They prefer something that’s easier to scan and digest – which is why breaking up your web content with smaller, easier-to-digest paragraphs is important.
Indicate how your content is broken up with H1 and H2 headlines. If possible, bold subheadings and use plenty of bullet points to make skimming easier. Add any features you can to help readers understand your post quickly.
10. DON’T – Oversell Your Products or Services
Our tenth recommendation is to avoid misrepresenting your products, services, or brands. We might all be tempted to use the content as a bragging platform for ourselves, but modern consumers can see right through false claims or blatant advertisements.
Worried you’ve been overselling your products/services in your content marketing? Here are some signs that consumers think you are.
- Declining social engagement. If people were excited to engage with you on social media at first, but they’ve stopped doing so, perhaps you aren’t delivering on your promises – and consumers don’t like that.
- People aren’t buying. Just because people are looking at your content doesn’t mean they’re being influenced by it – or that they’re liking what they see. If people are engaging with your content but not hitting “purchase,” you’ve got a problem.
- Poor prospect responses. If you’ve worked hard on your funnel, but you’re not really getting responses from your audience, then you may be overhyping your offers. Take a step back and evaluate.
Content should provide a platform for educating your audience on offerings – not lying to them, bragging, or making illegitimate claims. You’ve got great products and services. Sell them, but don’t OVERsell as you write descriptions, service pages, blogs, and more.
If you do make big claims, like using the words “best” or “perfect,” make sure you have the data to back them up.
11. DON’T – Forget Your Headings and Website Design Features
We already touched on how to make your content skimmable. Now, let’s talk about how you can make it readable with the right headings and design elements.
It’s essential that you remember to include proper headings in your blog or webpage. Your first heading (H1) is extremely important for SEO ranking. It indicates what the article is about and what topic you want to rank for.
Your H2 headings are still important for similar reasons, and although your H3 headings are less relevant to your SEO, they’re still important for organizational purposes. Don’t forget to include keywords in all of these headings, from one to three.
Your organization doesn’t stop with these headings, though. You also need to break up your text like a pro.
Image Source: SlidesCarnival
As the graphic above shows, you need to use the right fonts, line spacing, alignment, and casing to properly convey your content’s message. Your post’s layout should add to the content’s message, not distract from it.
12. DON’T – Plagiarize
As much as we’d like to leave this “don’t” out, there are still plenty of web content creators out there who are more than happy to copy other creators’ work. Do. Not. Do. This.
Plagiarism is arguably the fastest way to destroy your brand’s credibility. Additionally, Google’s not a fan of copycats – it ranks websites that plagiarize way down there in the search engine results. In recent years, all search engines have come down hard on duplicate and copied content. Don’t take the risk – cite everything and be original whenever possible.
Remember: “rephrasing” copied content isn’t enough. You’ll need to do your own research, then share your knowledge in new phrasing and terms. When in doubt, run your content through an online plagiarism checker, just to be sure you haven’t accidentally borrowed anything from another source.
13. DON’T – Use Copyrighted Images
Although this might seem like a common, simple mistake, it’s one that jeopardizes your website’s credibility. Technology has made it very easy for anyone to track down illegal use of copyrighted images, and if you get busted for using an image that’s not yours, you could face serious fines and/or legal repercussions.
If you must use a third-party image, look for pictures labeled as “royalty-free.” You can find these on websites such as Pixababy or Pexels. To cover your bases, you should always cite any images you borrow – give credit where credit is due.
14. DON’T – Let Content Fatigue Take Over
Lastly, you’ve likely heard the term “content fatigue” used in the marketing industry. In a sense, it refers to content production burnout – we produce and take in so much content. After a while, brainstorming and crafting can become tedious and mediocre.
Image Source: Zion & Zion
So, how do you keep your content from earning low attention or your team from burning out? We have a few tried-and-true methods.
- Be strategic. The biggest thing you can do to avoid fatigue is to make your marketing and content creation extremely purposeful. Don’t crank out content for the sake of content – ensure that each article, podcast, blog, and web page has clearly defined objectives.
- Evaluate your creation process. Don’t pick one process and stick to it without evaluating its success. Constantly look for ways to improve your brainstorming, writing, and creative strategies.
- Set realistic goals. It’s easy to feel burnt out when you’re continuously struggling to meet your goals. It’s great to aim high, but not if you’re setting unrealistic expectations for your content and team.
- Outsource when necessary. Sometimes, writing about your own brand and topics can begin to feel like you’re beating a dead horse. Bring in a new viewpoint and more skills by occasionally outsourcing your creative needs. Look for guest posters or work with third-party writers. Rely on user-generated content when you can.
Although producing consistent content is important, quality is more important than quantity. The more attention you pay to your process, and the more you avoid content fatigue, the more effective your strategy will be.
If you walk away remembering one “do” from this article, let it be this: DO publish what your audience wants to read.
This might seem like a challenging concept to grasp, but through keyword research and more, you’ll learn what your target consumers like to see – as well as what Google wants from your brand.
Need more help understanding web content creation and SEO? Don’t hesitate to reach out. At Foxxr Digital Marketing, we’re here to help you promote your service with unique, informative, and entertaining content. Additionally, we’ll apply our in-depth understanding of SEO to your content to ensure you rank well.
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