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Write Exciting and Engaging Web Content for Better SEO Results

To attract users and search engines to your Web site, you need to write content that excites and engages your visitors. This is where a lot of what you learned in high school English class can help:

  • Choose strong verbs that convey action. Avoid overusing the “forms of be” verbs (is, are, was, were, and so on) because they stick a sentence together with all the excitement of white glue. Instead, generate interest with active verbs like drive, soar, infuse, create, and so on.

    Also avoid using the passive voice, which dulls down your writing and makes it sound like a dry treatise or a political science textbook. English teachers suggest asking, “Who kicked whom?” in order to find out what a passive-voice sentence really means. Here’s a passive sentence that lacks excitement: “Up to 20 pairs of skis can be stored in the MegaRack ski hauler.” You can rewrite it by identifying a subject (“you”) and making it active: “You can pack skis for a 20-person ski party into this trunktop MegaRack ski hauler.”

  • Show, don’t tell. Your Web site needs to persuade people, interest them, and draw them in with good content. For this reason, you should write as if they’re there, not just reading about an event after the fact. Newspaper reporting tells what happened: “On Friday night, Racer Rick won the Indy 100 driving a bumper car.” But to engage your readers, you want to show them what you’re talking about. Describe the scene when the race began; what Racer Rick looked like; how his bumper car looked compared to all the formula ones on the track; what people said before, during, and after the race; the blow-by-blow of the race action; and the spectacular finish. Don’t just tell people about your product or service; make them feel it.

  • Use sensory words. Your text needs to make readers feel, taste, touch, hear, and see what you’re talking about — experience it themselves — rather than just read a report about it. You achieve this using sensory words and good descriptors. For instance, “The XJ-7 ski pole improves your downhill speed” tells the facts. But “Wrap your fingers around the XJ-7’s form-fitted grips and hold on tight as you zip around curves, adjusting your descent with light touches of your diamond-tipped poles to the snow-packed ground racing beneath you,” makes your readers experience it. Not to mention that you can integrate your keywords more easily into a descriptive paragraph.

  • Be specific and give details. Your writing needs to call things by name. Don’t be vague — it leads to ambiguity and confusion for your readers. Because you know exactly what you mean, you generalize or put together phrases that don’t make sense to someone unfamiliar with your business. To help you improve your text, you might ask someone who’s a complete novice to review your copy and point out anything that’s unclear.

  • Avoid pronouns like it and that, or generic words like stuff or thing. You can use words packed with meaning instead. As a bonus, restating the proper name of the thing you’re talking about helps the search engine understand better that your page is about that thing, whether it be ski poles, cowboy boots, or search engine optimization.

Keep in mind that your Web site is never “done.” Good writing, if you remember your high school or college composition courses, involves continuous revision. When you think you are finished and that the writing is good enough, you should put the pages away for a few days, do something else, and then come back and look at them again. More than likely you can find a few more things that can be made better. And as always, try to have fresh eyes look at what you’ve written. Someone who has not seen it before can usually see things that you could not see because of your familiarity with the subject.

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