A client recently asked me for feedback on an article that he commissioned for his website. Specifically, he wanted to know whether the article would add SEO value to his website.
If you don’t know what SEO is, it stands for Search Engine Optimization. Content that is optimized for search, or has good SEO value, meets a set of criteria that enables users to find it easily online, thereby finding your website easily. My client’s query started a broader conversation about how to write for websites.
My analysis revealed interesting findings. Overall, the article that my client commissioned was well-written and authoritative, but it did not add good SEO value to his website. The author would have to re-write it to make it easier for users to find.
Even if the author re-writes the article to be SEO-friendly, she needs to do a lot more work to make it valuable to the business in general terms. SEO helps people find content, but other factors are what persuade users to take interest in and contact the business. These factors include putting information into the right context, good messaging, and readability.
In this article I elaborate on various criteria that are important to website content. The purpose is to help you understand how to write for websites and how to know whether your website investments are worthwhile.
One of the most important factors for SEO is the keyword or keyphrase. This is a term or combination of words that your target audience is searching for. For example, a user who is looking for a tax planning accountant in their local area may google “tax planning accountant in Halifax”. Tax planning accountants would be prudent to have content on their websites that uses this phrase and set it as a keyphrase on the back-end of their website.
If you’re familiar with SEO and keywords, you may have heard of “keyword stuffing”. This is when someone takes a piece of written content that does not contain a particular keyword and adds the keyword throughout. The purpose is to get the content to show up in certain search results.
The problem with adding keywords after writing content is that at worst, the content reads like gibberish and search engines will flag your website for using “black hat tricks” at the next algorithm update. At best, readers may find that the content reads awkwardly and without natural flow. It’s not a great way to keep website users engaged.
I have to reiterate that the article my client asked me to consider was well-written and authoritative. However, the author didn’t appear to know anything about SEO or keywords. Therefore, she didn’t write the content with a keyword or keyphrase in mind. Someone would have to add a keyword to it and basically re-work the article in order to make it read well again.
When I’m writing for a website, I select keywords in advance so that I can integrate them naturally throughout the content. This is an important lesson about how to write for websites. If content is not written specifically for a website it’s best to re-work the content to be SEO friendly.
Keywords and keyphrases are only one of many SEO factors. Here is a list of other factors that help content producers and website managers generate great SEO value and teach how to write for websites.
You don’t need to meet all of these criteria perfectly to have a good SEO score — just most of them. You can see that there’s a lot involved with making just one page of content easy to find on search engines. Use this list as a general guide on how to write for websites.
I mentioned in my introduction that while SEO helps users find content, other factors persuade users to take interest in and contact the business. One of the other factors that informs how to write for websites is context.
The client who asked me for feedback on the article he commissioned is a personal injury lawyer. A keen marketer, he noticed that some of the top-ranking pages on his website are about types of injuries, which is why he hired someone to write new content about other injuries. It makes a lot of sense.
The article that my client asked me to review was about amputations and phantom limb pain. It shared accurate and interesting information about the subject. However, it was still just an article about amputation and phantom limb pain. It said nothing about the context of amputation and phantom limb pain in personal injury law.
Even if the article had great SEO value and lots of people were finding and reading it, they may have no need for a personal injury lawyer. If they do have a need, they may not realize it or that the firm providing quality information may be a good fit for them. In an ideal world, the author would have contextualized amputations and phantom limb pain in law and settlements.
By now you may be starting to understand that writing for websites is a niche skill. It’s surprisingly difficult to find someone who understands how to write for websites and does it well for your industry and practice.
Website messaging is another factor that helps persuade users to contact a business. I’ve written about key messages before, and they are worth mentioned again here. Key messages include a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), brand story, mission statement, and others. They make your business stand out, give you an advantageous position in the marketplace, and help persuade people to do business with you.
Key messages would also enhance the article about phantom limb pain that I reference above. Let’s pretend that the article already has a great SEO score and the author contextualized phantom limb pain in personal injury law. The article would be of even greater value to the website and business if it also contained key messages. This would position the firm as an authority and show users how to take the next step. The next step might be downloading a free resource, signing up for a newsletter, or calling for a free consultation.
Readability is the final factor I’ll mention in this article about how to write for websites. An excellent readability score makes content more accessible to people who read at an average and below-average level. The readability score is separate from the SEO score, but it does have some bearing on SEO.
Although I did not check the readability score for the phantom limb pain article, my guess is that it scores low. I will share a few reasons why.
For starters, the author is a medical professional. While the article is accurate and authoritative, it is also technical and written for highly literate readers. To get a high readability score, the article should have fewer technical terms, shorter sentences, and more headlines to break up the text.
The author also needs to re-write the article in the active voice. For example, this sentence uses the passive voice: “Phantom limb pain may be described by the injured person as burning, aching, dull…” The following sentence uses the active voice: “Injury victims often describe phantom limb pain as burning, aching, dull…”.
Another way to score well with readability is to make sure consecutive sentences don’t start with the same combination of words. There’s a whole list of criteria — these are just a few.
You can see that it takes more than good information to attract and convert people with your website. Learning how to write for websites is a big undertaking, and doing it well is an even bigger undertaking. So many content producers, webmasters, and SEO companies cut corners when it comes to delivering quality content, and you can see why: it’s a niche skill and very time-consuming. I hope this article helps you make better investments in your website.
At Proven Marketing for Professionals Inc., we believe that private practice offers great opportunity. With the right approach, it enables owners to control their own lives and create a business that serves their lifestyle. It gives professionals the chance to create their “perfect practice” and a means to truly “have it all” – prosperity, autonomy, gratification, and time. We want to help you build your dream practice, live your own version of success, and design your life your way.
That’s why we offer to write quality content for a select few clients. Schedule a free consultation with Proven Marketing for Professionals Inc. to see if we’re a fit. The goal is for you to feel it was a good use of your time, whether we’re a fit or not.
Call 902-453-1903 or email Hello@CatherineCrosbie.com to schedule your free initial consultation. We look forward to meeting you and learning about your practice.
Founder & CEO
Proven Marketing for Professionals Inc.
P.S. Are you interested in learning more about writing and marketing for private practice? Proven Marketing for Professionals Inc. publishes a consistent printed and mailed newsletter. It is NOT your ordinary newsletter – it’s actually fun-to-read! Click here to get a complimentary subscription.