8 ways to move your online content into awesome street.
In an industry centred on language and words, it will come to no surprise to those in translation & localization that subtle changes in how you write and present your website’s content can have a big impact on areas such as lead generation, SEO, social shares, PR and brand image.
We help clients who are not so confident in writing their own materials with website copywriting – as part of this we always audit content according to our own in-house criteria.
Based on some of these criteria, we have shared 14 things to think about when writing content for your website, whether a landing page, blog page or service overview.
1. Write for your audience
Perhaps the most important of all, yet most ignored, is to really understand who your audience are. Once you do this you can then write your content and bring your website’s goals in line with what your business needs.
If you use your website to sell to literally anyone who searches for the term “translation services” in Google.com your needs are going to be vastly different to a specialist Single Language Vendor, say in Malta or Estonia who is only interested in finding clients from the top 100 LSPs.
Every good translation agency or LSP should have a typical client profile which generalises on who most of your clients are, what they think, feel and do. Once you get this your whole sales position not just your website content gets tighter in terms of focus and drive.
Write content that addresses questions, needs and interests of your audience.
2. Important information at top
People need to be hooked in quickly when it comes to reading a website page so make sure you can say everything you need to at the top of your page, blog or article.
Summarise key points at the start but don’t give too much away too much detail as to make the rest of the page a repetition of your opening sentence. This technique is used by all good journalists whether in print or online; check any newspaper or web page from the most popular news site in your country and you will see the same pattern – catchy header, overview, summary points and then it goes into more detail eventually releasing certain key facts towards the end.
For websites keeping people on your pages for as long as possible is important for SEO. Having a high bounce rate, i.e. the rate or percentage of visitors who leave from the page without looking at others, is bad as it shows people are not engaging with your website. A low bounce rate on the other hand is great news as it shows people are sticking around and reading.
3. Format your text & page for scanners
It is proven that people skim and scan when it comes to reading a website page. Try it yourself. Open a browser, go visit a website you have never visited before and pay close attention to what your eyes do.
Most people tend to follow very similar patterns when it comes to reading a web page – our eyes look for the information our brain wants us to find. So, when writing your website it is key to make sure you clearly present your information to the reader. Now do you see why it’s so important to know your audience?
This can be done in a number of ways including using graphics, headers & titles, large fonts, short paragraphs, short sentences, white space and even strategically places summaries with bullet points or numbered lists.
Just make it easy for the reader – lots of text in chunky paragraphs tends to be a turn off for many people. Chop it up and avoid monotony.
4. Use keywords strategically
If you want your website or a particular web page to be found in search engines then you need to use the keywords people will be searching for to help them find your content.
Say, for example, you have researched and put together a fantastic blog about translation in life sciences. You want to bring in traffic via search engines and social media from people interested in both life sciences and of course translation. If your title, headers and content don’t contain the keywords these people will be putting into search engines, like “translation service life sciences” or “life sciences translation challenges”, then it will be much harder for people to find you.
Each and every page of a website should have its own unique keyword set. Make sure when you are writing the content for the page that you don’t overdo it and “stuff” in keywords – your content should read naturally however it is important to slip in keywords every paragraph to help search engines present your website/page better to its users.
5. Be careful with translation & localization jargon
Depending on who the audience you may or may not want to think twice about using jargon and terminology from the industry.
If you are selling primarily to people in translation & localization then, yes, of course it makes sense to use terminology, acronyms and similar in your website content as this is the language these people speak. However, be aware that just because you call something one thing, an agency in another country may not necessarily call it the same thing, so tread with care.
When writing for non-industry readers then you really need to keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid complicated concepts and don’t speak to them as if they attend LocWorld or GALA on an annual basis.
Depending on the context it may actually be necessary to use a reader’s own ‘language’, say if you had a web page selling legal translations to lawyers you would want to use terminology that makes them feel comfortable in your knowledge and experience of their world.
6. Copy text ethically and responsibly
Copying text is a serious no-no for all sorts of moral, ethical and legal reasons however when it comes to websites, it’s really bad practice. If you outsource your copywriting it is highly recommended to always check for plagiarism.
Search engines know exactly where a source text comes from and are now able to penalise websites or pages if they use plagiarised text. This can lead to a website or page being de-indexed, i.e. not showing up at all in search engine results pages.
This is not to say however that you can’t copy any text. If for example on every single service page or blog page you wanted a small sales paragraph, you won’t be penalised for it as long as it is not too much.
Usually SEO experts say that every page should be at least 60% different which leaves plenty of room for using key pieces of text again and again. You can also copy text from other website pages, but just make sure you clearly show what is their original text and you reference and/or link to it.
7. Include links to your internal pages
To help a search engine understand your website better and to keep readers on your website, it is good practice to always include links from your content to other pages on your website.
If for example you have published a blog in which you mention the word “translation”, you should hyperlink that word to your main translation landing page. Similarly, you should also try and add what are called “deep links”, i.e. where you link to pages much lower down in importance in your website’s hierarchy. This may be to a quiz, a special offer, an old blog post or anything else – as long as it is deep in your site it also helps remind search engines of content in different places.
Again, make sure you do this by using keywords in the link. So if you are going to link to an old blog post with tips about technical translation, don’t link to it like this, “….read more about technical translation here.” It should be “….read more about technical translation.”
8. Think about your Call to Actions
Always think about what you want your readers to do once they finish on a website page, a blog or landing page. Should they be filling in a form, going to another page, downloading something, taking a quiz or do you simply want them to fill in a form?
Whatever you want the reader to do, you need to encourage them with the right directions. These are known as Call to Actions and can be anything as simple as sentence with some instructions or graphics.
If your company could do with some support when it comes to writing for an online audience, we are currently running our Business Boosting Blogging training course as well as our excellent copywriting for LSPs service.