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Grammar

Content Writing for Web

Laura Sutherland

We've compiled a list of things to look out for when editing your own website. We want your website to look fantastic, and these handy tips are sure to keep it looking fresh and tidy!

Consistency

Whether your brand name is spelt one way or the other, it is important to keep a consistent referral to your brand throughout your website. Long brand names can be shortened into initials. However, it is important that the audience knows what you're talking about. Try using the brand name at the top of each different page followed by enclosed brackets containing the initial brand name.

Try to keep the tone of voice and grammar consistent. Otherwise, it may seem as though different people were writing the content.

Keywords 

Keyword research is an important SEO-related task that involves identifying popular words and phrases that are entered into search engines. Expanding your knowledge on the importance of keywords can give you a better understanding of how in demand certain words/phrases are online. 

Keywords are added to your website in a natural way, thus helping assist search engines to index the website's pages. Ultimately, this technique can drive the right traffic to your site, and potentially lead to sales.

Try jotting down a list of keywords associated with your website. Enter these into a keyword research engine and note how they rank in popularity and how difficult it is to rank well for that keyword. If you'd like to try it out, visit MOZ's Keyword Explorer

Grammar

Make sure your grammar is consistent and correct throughout the site. Use the online tool Grammarly to help.  The example below should be consistently used throughout your content (whether you choose to use it or not). 

Are you for or against the Oxford Comma? 
The Oxford Comma is an optional comma before the word 'and' at the end of a list. 

Ex: "I love my parents, Elton John and Steve Irwin."

The above sentence excludes the Oxford comma and potentially could be read as "I love my parents (who are Elton John and Steve Irwin).

With the Oxford Comma it makes things a bit clearer:

"I love my parents, Elton John, and Steve Irwin."

This time the Oxford Comma allows us to read that the speaker loves their parents, Elton John, and Steve Irwin separately. 

The debate over the Oxford Comma is still discussed today, so if you are a pro- or anti-Oxford Comma person, make sure to use it consistently in your work online.

Links

An internal link connects one page of your website to a different page on the same website. Internal links aid in website navigation and distribute page authority throughout the site. 

Here are some tips on how to integrate internal links:

  • Use links that are natural for the reader. Internal links need to have a natural flow through the website. Avoid mentioning 'Contact Us' at the bottom of every page. 
  • Avoid linking to the pages on your navigation bar. These pages are already in full view, especially the homepage (which is the first page the audience will likely find). Instead focus your efforts on internally linking the deeper pages, which hopefully contain useful information. 
  • Only link pages that are necessary or have a strong connection. It's no use linking a page about juggling to a page about aeroplanes, or vice versa. Think about the importance and appropriateness when internal linking. 
  • Don't go crazy with the number of links on one page. It's a great idea to include internal linking where appropriate, however, try to stay away from an excessive amount of links on one page. 

Emotion and Tone

Decide on the tone and voice of your website. It would be strange to swap from a professional, articulated voice into a cute, happy-go-lucky voice halfway through the site. Pick a tone of voice and stick with it. The voice you choose will represent your company's values and personality throughout the site. Does your business use a tone of professionalism and knowledge? Or is it a more casual, down to earth voice?

Think of what your audience expects your website to sound like. 

Avoid the use of jargon (a particular vocabulary that belongs to a specific group), as this can pigeonhole the audience, and exclude those who don't understand the particular words and terms.

Sentence Length

In terms of sentence length, Quality triumphs over Quantity.
Writing content for your webpage is an important task. You'll want to include all the necessary information without including too much clutter—we don't want to bore our readers. Generally, people have a short attention span, so it's important to keep the content clear, precise, and short. 

When creating the layout of the page, try to use the Inverted Pyramid model. It goes like this:

  • Essential information with a gripping teaser at the top. The first sentence/heading must clearly and quickly explain what the page is about. 
  • Additional information supporting the heading. Use this section to expand on the original section, add more context, scenarios and examples. 
  • Least concerned information goes at the bottom. This can be an optional bio or a small detail about the content.  

As well as having the correct structure of information, it's important to think about the optimal sentence length.

GOV.UK sticks to a limit of 25 words per sentence. That seems a bit short, doesn't it? Their motto "When you write more, people understand less" makes sense when you consider the average audience member tends to scan text, rather than reading every individual word.
A study from the American Press Institute reveals that at an average of 14 words per sentence, 90% of the information was comprehended by readers. However, at the higher density of a 43-word sentence, the comprehension dropped to below 10%. 

Calls to Action

A call-to-action (CTA) is a button or a link on your website that calls for visitors to take the next step. Maybe you want to encourage them to sign up for a newsletter or 'get in touch'?

What is the most efficient way to use a CTA? You'll want to place it somewhere on your website that will grab the attention of your visitors. Be visually persuasive. 

Place them in an obvious and appropriate space. When mentioning the services your company provides, try placing 'GET IN TOUCH' as a CTA underneath. 

Proofreading

A website directly reflects the business as a whole. If something simple as poor grammar, spelling, or typos happens constantly it portrays a lazy and a careless business. 

Here are handy tips for creating a proofreading process:

  • After you have written content, check it again to make sure the information is clear, the grammar is correct, and there are no spelling issues. 
  • Get an employee or friend to read over it. Sometimes they can pick up on tidbits you may have missed.
  • Give yourself a day or two to distance yourself from the content. When you come back for another look, you may find that having a break has refreshed your mind space, allowing you to read through it again. 

Tip: Use an online tool such as Grammarly to help correct your content. It will point out spelling errors and grammar mistakes, which you can decide to use or refuse.