Here’s a simple 3 step plan that encompasses a lot of the principles of good web content writing. The process ensures that you consider your audience, tell them what they need to know, speak directly to them and write in an appropriate manner. It works every time!

1. Develop a web marketing persona

A marketing persona is a fictional character that epitomises your target market. This includes their gender, age, occupation, education, family, hobbies and interests. You may have already invented your persona when you started your business as part of the marketing process. If that’s the case, simply apply what you already know about them to the web. For example, how web-savvy are they? Will they understand technical terms?

2. What does that person need to know?
You’ll have gotten to know you’re persona quite well during this process. Now imagine you are that person. Consider what information you would want to know when landing on a web page. Write a list of questions you’d likely ask when shopping for your product or service. Have you told them about prices and benefits? More. Writing about facts, figures and prices etc is the new way of optimising page content.

Here are some basic questions for an e-commerce home page:

  • Does this company sell the product I want?
  • Why should I buy from them?
  • Is the product guaranteed?
  • Does the company offer free delivery?
  • Where can I find their returns policy?

Of course, these questions will be more specific to your industry – for example, if you’re selling energy-efficient glazing, you may talk about U-Values. Consumers may ask the question; what is a U-Value? However, if you sell glazing to clients in the construction industry, you could assume that they already know the answer to this.

Think about what your audience will expect to glean from the particular page you are writing for. They will expect to get information about your company on the About page, how long you’ve been in business, what qualifications you have and whether you’ve won any awards. However, when they first land on your home page, they’re unlikely to wonder what you’re mission statement says.

You can also prioritise the questions at this point and put them into a logical order which will help you in step 3.  For example, if you sell clothing – an important question would be; can I easily return items that don’t fit?

3. Answer & edit
Once you have your list of questions, answer them…as if you’re speaking to that person directly. Use short, clear and concise sentences.  Take into account what you learned about them in step 1 and adjust the style and tone accordingly. Returning to the double glazing example, you’ll define U-Values, or clearly link to a glossary/FAQ page that explains it.

When you’ve finished, delete your questions.

You’ll end up with a page of answers that will ultimately become your web content. These answers will be short paragraphs which you can chop and change accordingly. If you prioritised your questions in step 2 they’ll be in a logical order and the most important information will be first, immediately available to the site visitor.  You can add subheadings, break up any lists into bulleted points, and add additional sentences that make the piece flow.