Writing For The Web
By April Harter
Director of Public Relations & Social Media
These days, we’re writing more for the web than any other venue. From copy for a company website or blog to a Linkedin update or Tweet, online contributions are never-ending. As a public information officer (PIO), not surprisingly, there are a few additional guidelines that others working in the PR world may not have to follow. These guidelines hopefully result in a consistent, accurate and optimized marketing message, while also reducing risk to the public entity.
Understand the rules and regulations of your position
Your organization should have an outline of what you are and aren’t allowed to communicate with the public. These same rules apply to social media. It is advisable that your organization creates a social media guidebook if they haven’t already. Anticipating and planning for situations is almost always easier than trying to recover from surprises.
Identify Your Keywords
You’ll want to incorporate a group of key terms or phrases into your overall online marketing strategy. Keywords should be used on your website, in press releases and articles, and across your social media channels.
To start, write down 5-10 words or phrases that pop into your head regarding your organization. What defines your organization? What services does your organization offer? For example, if you work for a school, some keywords that might come to mind include:
- Top high school Conejo Valley
- Math and science leader
- K-12 Conejo Valley
- California Distinguished School
- High-achieving school
Once you’ve made a list, visit adwords.google.com to see how competitive these terms are in regard to Google rankings. You can also use Google AdWords to identify new words you hadn’t thought of before.
Strike a balance between ultra-competitive terms like “education” and less competitive terms like “K-12 Conejo Valley.” In the end, you’ll want a list of 5-7 terms or phrases that help identify your organization.
Once your keywords have been identified, make sure they are incorporated into all of your online marketing efforts.
An easy way to get started is by writing a paragraph about each of your key terms or phrases, and finding a place to put these on the your website. Later, you can hyperlink your key terms and phrases in press releases and articles, linking back to your website where the pertinent information lives.
Optimize Your Press Releases
Incorporate your keywords into each press release, including headlines. Although you should keep keywords in mind at all times, do not overuse or force them into your materials. Stick to what you already know about writing and work keywords in as appropriate. Also note that repeating the same keyword throughout one body of text does not make it more optimized.
The keywords will serve as anchor text linking back to your site. Regarding links, the typical ratio is one link to 100 words of text.
Keep content simple and to the point, especially on your homepage and across social media channels. If a larger explanation is needed, post this information on an inside page on your website and link to it. Remember, people encounter thousands of advertising and marketing messages per day, so you need to get them a quick, clear message—fast!
If you are going to go through all of that trouble posting information and commentary online, make sure you are talking to your target audience. If you have multiple audiences, adjust your content accordingly. For example, if you need to deliver the message, “Recreation hours have been reduced due to budget cuts,” you’ll probably craft the sentence differently depending on the audience and the delivery channel.
When writing for the web, start with your blog or a designated place on your website for updates. From here, disperse the information across your social media channels, linking back to your website. Don’t simply copy and paste, however. Make sure your message, though reposted several times, is tailored and relevant to each audience you want to reach.
The web has shifted from a land of brochures to a stream of endless conversation. When writing for the web, remember that you are talking to and inviting commentary from multiple audiences. Engage in conversation, while being mindful of your organization’s communication policy.