When you think about, it writing good web content is a little bit like assembling a hamburger. You want the reader to get to the “meat” of what you are trying to say, but it needs to fit in between a good quality introduction and a conclusion. These two components are the two buns that hold the meat in place.
To continue with the hamburger analogy, a person who is writing for the Internet needs to make sure that the message they trying to get across is…well….palatable. Putting bland content out there isn’t going to do your business any good. You want to make sure that whatever you put out there is information that your site visitors are going to find interesting (and hopefully) useful.
Building the Content Burger
The top layer of your content burger is your introduction. You want to get the reader to want to continue reading so that they will reach the meaty portion. Starting off the piece with something that will attract the reader’s attention is crucial.
A good title will attract the reader’s attention. For SEO purposes, make sure that it includes at least one of your keywords. Phrases like “How To” or “# of Tips for…” are good choices. Site visitors like lists, and you can use this fact to your advantage by adapting this form of content to the niche market you are trying to serve.
Your introductory paragraph should explain what the purpose of the article. Give the reader a taste of what they will get if they take the time to read through to the middle paragraphs. It’s also a good idea to include a sentence that lists the points the article will cover. A few words are sufficient, and you can build on your ideas when you get to the meaty portion of the piece.
No Filler, Just Meaty Content
Whether you are writing your own content or having it prepared by a freelance writer or a content company, you want to be sure that the middle section of the work contains something the reader will find valuable. These paragraphs are where the content is explored and expanded on.
You can take your cues from the sentence in the introduction where you set out the points that the article will cover. Each point can be addressed in turn and the content can form a paragraph or two. Unlike a print publication, keep each paragraph relatively short. Two sentences is too short and will make the copy look choppy, while going over five sentences is probably too long.
It’s a fine balance between giving your readers information they need to know and putting them of because they think they will have to work too hard to get it. Keep in mind that people don’t read through information on the Internet in a lot of detail. Many of them simply skim through until they find the particular bit of information they need and then they move to the next site or log off of the Internet altogether.
To keep the reader’s interest as they browse through the meaty part of the article, add in a few condiments and garnishes. These are subheadings and lists. Use subheadings to break up the text so that the person who is skimming through the page can get an idea of the information it contains. This tactic also breaks up the text into more manageable sections so that you aren’t putting a huge block of text in front of the reader with no breaks in it. Rather than take the time to read through the information – no matter how good it is – the Internet user will just click away.
Lists are a great way to get your message across in bite-sized chunks. Many types of information can be expressed in this way. You may want to have a numbered list or include some bullet points in your text.
It does get to a point where your list is too long to keep the reader’s attention. If you want to list more than 15 or 20 items, find a way to break up the list into sections. That way, the reader doesn’t lose interest in what you are trying to say by feeling overwhelmed at the number of points you are trying to make or the long list of bullet points. There is a place in web writing for “Top 100” lists but you may want to adopt the same strategy as network television shows do when they are trying to present this volume of material: divide it into smaller components.
Rather than trying to share a Top 50 or Top 100 list with your readers in one batch, you can present 25 ideas at a time and link the pages to each other. Not only do you keep your reader’s interest, but this move will help to make your site sticky. Your goal is to keep the visitor exploring your site for a time before they move on. Providing them with content they find helpful and relevant will make it more likely that they will bookmark your site and/or sign up for your mailing list.
Finish on a Strong Note
The final part of your article is where the points made in the body are summed up neatly for the reader. The concluding paragraph is the bottom bun that helps to hold the meat of the article together. The hamburger analogy can be used to structure web content on any kind of subject you can think of. Remember to put the meaty part of the article in the middle and surround it with a strong introduction and conclusion, and you will be satisfying your site visitors’ appetite for quality information.