Content Pages – Writing Web Content

First Page Type

Back in the chapter on Site Structure, four different page types were introduced. The first of these were the Content pages. These pages offer content in order to increase traffic to your site. No matter what kind of site you run, you need to have something of high value in order to attract and keep visitors. Products and services offered do constitute value, but unless your site is a recognized brand you will have a hard time attracting customers solely by offering goods for sale.

This is where free content comes into play. Your site should provide high quality free content, because it is much easier to market than products and services. Without it, you will have difficulty in increasing your search rankings and traffic.

Free Content

Free content plays a pivotal role in generating traffic, which is the number one key to monetizing a site. A paradox in web business is that you can profit more by giving your content away for free, than you could by charging for it. This is because the traffic you receive with free content is many times higher than that which you get by offering content even at a very low price.

Free content is about generating indirect revenue. The key is to have some other monetization strategy in place to profit from all the traffic generated by the content. Most people will come to your site for the free content, not to buy stuff. However, while they are at your site they will be exposed to your monetization strategies, and a percentage of them will earn you money through them. These strategies will be covered in the fourth part of this guidebookProfit.

If your content is your product, then you should not give all of it away for free. Up to 80% of your content can be free. This will allow you to attract as much traffic as possible, while still retaining enough value for people to purchase that exclusive 20% of your content.

Keyword Specific Content Pages

Content pages on your site should be keyword specific. That is, each page should be focused on a single subject within the site’s niche and its related keyword phrases. The more focused your web pages are, the higher they will rank for related search terms. Every bit of content on the page should relate to the subject and anything not related should be left for another page.

The opening paragraph is the most important one, both for search engines and visitors. Use it to describe the content on the rest of the page. Be sure to include your page’s primary keyword phrase in this opening paragraph. This will help you get better search engine rankings for that phrase.

Content Update Frequency

One of the most effective methods to keep people returning to your website is to make sure that it has regularly updated content. If this is a strategy you intend to use for your site, then set a schedule to add a new page of quality content, for example daily or at least weekly. This will not only help your site rankings, but your visitors will know when to expect updates and will come often to see what is new. If your site does not require a continuous release of new content, be sure to at least show that the site has been reviewed recently and is up to date.

When you start to acquire a large amount of traffic, producing more high quality content often becomes a better investment of time than marketing your site. Each new Content page you add acts as a new entry point into your site that your visitors may share with the world. Still, your focus should be on quality before quantity. Investing a significant amount of time producing a few pages of exceptional quality is easily more valuable and a better use of your time than a hundred average pages targeting every conceivable keyword.

Content Length

The total word count of a Content page should be at least 250 words. Otherwise it may get passed over for high rankings. On the other hand, do not make pages so long that they become difficult to overview and lose focus. This is not only bad for SEO, but longer articles can have a high drop off rate in readers. If a web page covering one topic has more than a couple of pages, you should consider splitting it up into sub topics that are covered on separate web pages.

Structure Formatting

Make your Content pages easy to scan and visually appealing by properly structuring your content in the following ways.

  • Headings – Organize your content into sections and subsections by using headings. Make sure the visitor can always see at least one heading on the screen.
  • Paragraphs – Use the paragraph element to explicitly delimit your content into short blocks that are easily scannable. Short – 3 to 5 line – paragraphs add whitespace and visual relief to text-heavy pages.
  • Lists – Ordered/unordered lists help break long paragraphs into easily scannable content. The ideal length for a bulleted list is 3 to 5 items. Whole sentences work better than just listing phrases.
  • Tables – Use table markup for tabulating data into rows and columns. It is not to be used for page layout.
  • Images – Images are a great way to break up text-heavy pages. They can add whitespace and color to your pages and help with search engine optimization.
  • Emphasis and strong emphasis – Use these font styles in small quantities to draw attention to important text within your content.
  • Links – Use links in the content to direct your readers to more information and to internal related pages.

Style Formatting

Here are some additional guidelines in relation to the style of your Content pages and their content.

  • Whitespace – Leave plenty of whitespace. Without it the design will feel crowded and unbalanced.
  • Font – Use an easy to read font – such as Verdana, Arial or Times – in a standard size.
  • Line height – A line height of around 150% will improve the readability of your content.
  • Spell check – Make sure to carefully spell check any content you add to the site. Typographical errors will hurt your site’s credibility. Ideally, you should have at least one other person proofread your writing.
  • Sentences – Use short declarative sentences and simple words for factual text. Do not use long sentences when short ones will work, and do not use long words when short ones will do.
  • Professionalism – Remove unnecessary definitions, explanations, subjective adjectives and superlatives.