Writing requires more than just language skills. Just because you can speak English or Japanese or you are a English to Japanese translator, it does not make you a good writer in English or Japanese.
Web writing requires various nonlinguistic skills including marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), copywriting, knowledge of basic advertising laws, and of course writing.
In this article, I am going to explain what makes a good web content writer.
WHAT IS A GOOD WEBSITE?
What is a good website? How good a website is can be evaluated from two aspects, one is good from a user perspective while the second is good for search engines such as Google or Yahoo. The purpose of search engines is to match searchers’ needs with search results. Therefore, from a search engine perspective, good websites should be good websites for people. This practice of promoting your website to a higher position in the Google search results for desirable keywords or key phrases is called search engine optimization (SEO).
So what are the characteristics or essentials of good websites, anyway? That is what I am going to explain below:
- Good writing
- Structured writing
- Linked by many web pages that have same theme and authorities
- Readability for computer
1. MATCHING YOUR NEEDS, WEBSITE CONTENT, AND THE NEEDS OF YOUR AUDIENCE
Making websites is not a purpose. It’s a method to achieve your purpose. Browsing your website is not the purpose of your audience. Your audience wants to obtain information or enjoy user experience. User experience is a feeling they experience by using your website, such as enjoying watching movies via YouTube, reading novels on your website, feeling getting smarter by learning from life hack blogs.
Marketing is a science to make the best match between the needs of the provider and the users and make all people happy. Marketing takes several steps.
- Study about users and what they want.
- Study about your competitors and what they provide.
- Study about you and what you can provide and what you can gain by providing.
- Provide what you want to provide, what users want, and what other people don’t provide.
Users do not want to spend time on what they don’t want. Therefore, it is important to keep providing what you think you should provide, and never deviate from that.
2. GOOD WRITING IS READABLE
Writing is just one of the many methods to provide experience or information to your audience. As written in the previous section, what you need to do is to provide what users want, and it does not have to be done by writing.
In a society that is overflowing with information, people want to consume information fast like fast food. Sometimes, it’s better to write less and use more infographics or videos.
Good writing on websites should be easy to read for both Search Engine Robots (from now on also as “robots” only) and audience. Robots actually do not read what is displayed on the browser. They read codes that generate images and texts on the browser. The code is called HTML (*1). HTML is something like this.
<head><title>Type page title here and title will be displayed on top of browser</title></head>
<h1>Here is heading 1</h1>
<img src=”image-location.jpg” title=”sample image”>
HTML is acronym of Hypertext markup language. As in the sample code above, title is marked with <title> and </title> and heading is marked with <h1> and </h1>. Those marks are called tags. Most tags are sets of start tags and end tags which have “/”. Some tags, for example image tags, do not require end tags.
Now talk about image tags which is <img src=”image-location.com” title=”sample image”> in code above, has title in it. Image tags display only images that you define in tag on browser of audiences so its title, “sample image,” will not be displayed on browser. So why do we put it?
Remember that you read “web writings are also read by Search Engine robots.” Yes. Robots want titles in image tags so that they can know what the image is about. Title tags are useful for Google to generate the search results of image searches.
3. STRUCTURAL WRITING
HTML is designed to make writing structured and provide many levels of heading tags, paragraph tags, list tags, table tags, etc. Search engines consider the words in title tags and heading tags to be especially suitable for keyword searches of websites, and they also prefer structured texts. Therefore good HTML writing should be like this.
<h1>h1 tag is used for website name</h1>
<h2>h2 tag is used for name of page</h2>
4. KEYWORD RICH WRITING
Audiences and Google like keyword-rich writing. Keyword-rich writing is a writing method that uses many similar or relative keywords to your keywords. For example, please compare texts below.
“Welcome to my website about pasta.
I would like to write about pasta on this website. You know, there are many kinds of pasta, and I know pretty much about anything about pasta. If you are interested in pasta, I am sure you will like this website.”
“I like pasta.
I like pizza and risotto as well, but pasta is the best. I like especially carbonara and peperoncino. This weekend, I read a recipe book of Italian cuisine and spent many hours in the kitchen.”
Right one is not only fun to read but also evaluated better by search engines because search engine prefers web pages that clearly define main keywords and have many relative keywords.
5. GETTING LINKED BY MANY STRONG WEB PAGES
Google evaluates web pages that are linked by other web pages as “good web page” and lists in a higher position in search results. Therefore, being shared on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, bookmarked on StumbleUpon, and linked on other blog earns trust from Google and gives a higher position in Google search result.
6. OGP (OPEN GRAPH PROTOCOL) FOR FACEBOOK
You can say that Open Graph Protocol is an HTML tag to control a display of Facebook shared pages like below.
You can control those elements by inserting tags below between <head> and </head> in your HTML.
<!–Facebook Open Graph Protocol configuration –>
<meta property=”og:type” content=”website” />
<meta property=”og:title” content=”My Website Title” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://www.mywebsite.com/myimagelink.jpg” />
<meta property=”og:description” content=”This is the description of your website that will be shown like D in the above image. It’s helpful for promoting your website and attracting visitors” />
<meta property=”og:url” content=”http://whichurlyouwanttoshare.com” />
This is just an introduction to web writing. There is so much more to learn. Characteristics of good web writing depend on language and culture. I am not a native speaker of English, but I can safely assume that the preferred writing style in the UK and US is slightly different, too.
When you hire a writer, make sure that you hire a good web writer by asking about their previous work or what they think makes good web writing.