Web Word Wizardy
Bill of Writes
- Write to be found
- Write to be skim-read
- Write to be understood
- Write to be trusted
- Write to get results
Goals for the site
- Find the best niche for the site, then dominate it.
- Attract the visitors you want and turn them into loyal customers.
- Win the trust of visitors.
- Persuade people to email you or buy something.
- Achieve high ranking in search results.
- Make every web page a legitimate doorway to the site.
- Go beyond the brochure - get results.
- Forge relationships with individual visitors or customers.
- Promote the web site worldwide and make the site accessible to all.
Since the web is a collection of millions of separate pages, the text of every web page should be self-explanatory and make sense by itself.All content must be high quality.A web site's credibility can be destroyed by a single stupid page.
Provide context for every individual web page.The text of every page should start by signaling its context and purpose.Write every page:
- For a specific reason
- For a specific type of reader
- For a specific result
Each page should have a key message that you can summarize in one sentence.
What type of visitors do you want for this page?
What response do you want?
Use the Inverted Pyramid structure: start with your description, your main point, or a summary of what's on the page.Then work down to the smallest/least important point at the end of the document.
Vary the length of paragraphs but keep them short.The rule of thumb is to limit yourself to a maximum of 65-100 words.
Use specific, explanatory headings.For example, 'introduction' is a bad heading whereas 'Window cleaning for beginners' is a good heading.Think about your keywords when writing headings.
Write hypertext links that work like headings.
Use a variety of computers and browsers to check the text legibility.Look at the page in "grey" mode - are the words still legible? Check the words with your monitor brightness at different levels. Print your page from the screen. Do you see a partial printing or a gray blur? Ask your friends and relations for honest feedback.
Editing the contents of forms:
- Break every online procedure or task into its components, and do one at a time.
- Ask for information essential to the task at hand, and no more. If you ask for optional information, ask for it last and mark it as optional.
- Keep the form as short as possible, and provide a printable versions for people who prefer to reply by mail or fax.
- Never ask for credit card information until it's needed to complete a transaction. Don't ask for an address unless you need to deliver something.
What to put in Alt Text?
First, identify the function of every image.Think about what purpose it servers.Think of what you would say if you were on the phone, reading the web page aloud to someone else
and you came to the image. Would you describe the image?
Add alt tag to horizontal rules - example, 'end of chapter' or 'end of section'.
When adding alt tags to navigation icons, consider using punctuation.The navigation structure might appear in a screen reader as "HomeOur ProductsServicesOrder form". So consider using punctuation and spaces. For example, alt="| get order form | " or "[ get order form ]".
How to generate credibility
- Perfect navigation. If it is not easy to navigate the site, people will leave.
- Plenty of worthwhile content. Show that you are experienced, intelligent, powerful and knowledgeable.
- A well-known brand
- Appropriate, user-friendly design
- Identity on every page
- A real sense of the people and premise. List staff member's titles, accomplishments, and qualifications. Does your business belong to any professional organizations? Quote facts about the company or organization.
- Secure order form
- Strong, money-back guarantee
- Good writing and perfect proofreading
- Friendly persuasion. People are persuaded by two things: clear benefits to themselves, and the facts.
- "last updated" date
- Links to other web sites
How Search Engines rank pages
- Relevance. Search engines consider the relevance of a page to the query words.They count the number of query words that occur in the text.Other search engines look at percentages. What percentage of the total number of words are the query words?
- Prominence. Search engines add points for the prominence of the query word on a web page.
- Link Popularity. Are the links from popular sites? Are there many links? Do the links contain relevant keywords?Request reciprocal links from other sites that have lots of traffic.
- Signs of Life. Search engines date your pages when they first index them and then they not subsequent changes. Draw attention to changes - this page was last updated on …
- Title tag should be unique for every page.
- Write the title like a newspaper headline or summary or description of the page.
- Use a high percentage of keywords in your title.
- Vary the length of titles from page to page.
- Avoid fancy characters ($ ? + & %).
Why do we use page themes?
Tailoring individual pages of the site to specific purposes allows you to achieve a higher ranking in the search engines because:
- You multiply your chances of being found.
- Many pages become entry points – each page is an open door inviting visitors into the site
- You can target people with specific interests
- You can customize specific pages for specific search engines
- It is easier to select exactly the right keywords
- The page description will appear in two places - meta description tag and the first bit of body text.
- Most search engines grab the first few lines of the site as the description for their search results.
- Write descriptions that can be safely truncated.Start with a ten word description.Add another ten to fifteen words of optimal information.Start with your lead keyword.
- Review the site's concept, architecture, and marketing strategy.
- Select four important, static pages to optimize. If there are no suitable pages, write some new ones, keeping the design simple. For each of the four pages
- Decide on the purpose, target audience, content and desired result
- Research the source code of similar pages ranked high by search engines
- Write a meta keyword list, starting with three lead keyword phrases
- Write the title, starting with the number one lead key phrases and including the other two
- Write a 10 to 25 word description or summary of the page, using the three lead key phrase
- Put the description both in the meta description tag and at the start of the body copy
- Write or edit the text including the key phrases in a natural way
- Write subheadings if the page is a long one. Include key phrases
- Write links: use self-explanatory phrases and key phrases
- Write alt-text, if required. Use key phrase si you can do so legitimately
By Rachel McAlpine, published in Toronto by Ten Speed Press in 2001.