Content is the fuel that keeps your website shining bright. It provides your audience with what they were looking for (based on the keyword research you did in Module 2) while allowing you to tell your story.
Also, since you now know your customer avatar well (as you learned in Module 1), your content then becomes a welcome mat to introduce your target audience to your sports organization, helping them become part of your community.
Not All Content Is Created Equal
Now, writing content for a website is different than writing a letter, an essay, a book, or a newspaper article.
Many of the stylistic rules that have been developed for the printed word don't always fit into the constraints of the online world.
Nowadays, more than half of online searches are done on mobile devices, which have a tiny screen compared to a desktop, a laptop, or even a book.
For example, the classical paragraph structure we learned in English class, where you introduce a main idea, you then develop it in the middle and end with a conclusion, becomes an unreadable wall of text on a screen that’s only 2.5 inches wide by 5 inches high.
So, in order to connect with an online audience and not lose them to the back button, you’ll need to follow a completely new set of rules of the road, as I’ll show you below.
7 Tips For Writing Online Content That Will Move the Needle
The following tips will help you create website content that will engage your audience and help drive online readership:
1. Create an introduction that captures your reader's attention
Your content’s introductory paragraph will determine whether the rest of your text gets read or not.
You have a very short amount of time (sometimes less than ten seconds) before someone clicks away from your page, so it’s important that what they see first makes them want to continue reading.
The best way to engage your readers from the get go, is to make it clear early on that your content addresses the words they originally searched for when they landed on your site.
By addressing their search terms early on in your copy, you’ll reassure them that they’re on the right page.
But now comes the important part: you want to hook them by teasing the answer they were looking for without revealing it outright (in other words, you want to make them read the entire article!)
While there are many types of hooks you can use for your introduction paragraph, from an unexpected statement to a surprising statistic, one of the most effective ones is to begin your paragraph with an open-ended question.
2. Use the power of storytelling to engage readers
There’s nothing that captures someone’s attention better than a good story. While it might be tempting to write about facts and figures, an inspiring story about an athlete or a coach from your club will truly glue your readers to the page.
Storytelling is so effective because it reminds us of our humanity and therefore creates a much deeper bond with your audience.
For example, if your webpage is addressing the search term “girls soccer lessons,” make sure at some point to share the experience of girl athletes who are members of your club.
They could tell readers how nervous they felt when they first joined and how coaches and parents made them feel so welcomed from the very beginning.
You could also share the story of a coach or a parent that illustrates the spirit of camaraderie in your club.
3. Use short, concise sentences and paragraphs for easy reading
Since most content these days is consumed on a small screen, make sure to break up your paragraphs into short sentences.
Think of it this way, a 15-word sentence may appear on a single line when viewed with a 13” laptop computer, but it’ll take three or four lines of text on a typical smartphone screen.
Your site is meant to communicate lots of information about your club, so you’ll need to give mobile readers multiple visual pauses to digest and process the information.
4. Include images to break up the text and make it more interesting
Sports are highly visual, so take advantage of the visual nature of websites to spruce up your text with photographs, charts, and embedded videos.
A picture tells a thousand words and a video has thousands of pictures, so use all of the multimedia tools at your disposal to support your text while giving your audience a taste of what your club looks and feels like.
5. Use bullet points for easy reading and clarity
Another technique for breaking up your text is to add a set of bullet points between paragraphs, for example, by listing the many benefits of joining your club.
There are many advantages to using bullet points:
- They help create a visual break in the text, improving the reading experience
- They help organize thoughts quickly
- They are easy to skim
- They’re helpful for organizing and simplifying a lot of information
6. Provide some statistics and facts to give credibility to your arguments
The easiest way to gain credibility online is to show useful facts and figures and then link directly to their source, in case your audience wants more information.
For example, one thing is to reflect that learning to play a team sport is a positive experience for young children, but another is to link your comment to studies from reputable sources that support your argument.
By linking to these sources you’re piggybacking on their reputation, making your content much more credible in the eyes of your audience.
7. Last but not least: make sure you proofread your content at least twice before you publish it
All the goodwill you stand to gain by creating content that addresses the needs of your audience can be broken if you have typos or bad grammar on your page.
So, when you’re happy with your final draft make sure you proofread your webpage content at least twice before you click the publish button, preferably by different people.
Although spellcheck will catch the most obvious errors, it won’t catch typos of misuse, like writing “too” when you mean “to,” or writing “it’s” when you mean “its.”
Glaring typos on your pages will not only reflect poorly on the author of the content, but they’ll also reflect poorly on your club’s image. So, make sure you run your content past different pairs of eyes before you make it publicly available.
Well done! You've completed the first 3 of 7 modules in the series How To Rank Your Club's Website High on Google Search Results (click here for Module 1, here for Module 2 and here for the series overview).
Now, so far we’ve been focussing on the “human” side of the equation, your readers.
Starting with our next installment, you’ll begin to learn about the “machine” side — Google’s search algorithm — and how you’ll need to balance both sides of the equation in order to make it to the first page of search results.
Let’s reconnect in Module 4, where you’ll learn the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to maximize your chances of being discovered by your online audience!