Landing Page Design

11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages

You’re about to launch a big online marketing campaign complete with media buys, search engine placement, banner ads and blog buzz. You’ve tested your creative and your clickthrough rate is strong. You know once you go live, tons of targeted traffic will be hitting your site.
Even after a customer has decided to accept your offer, the conversion can be lost. Any flaw in site functionality and usability can cause you to lose the conversion, so ensure your privacy information is posted and there are no hiccups in form processing.

Time to sit back and relax, right? Not quite yet.

Conversion’s the Word

Upon arriving at your site, you want the visitor to dosomething (e.g., register for your newsletter or buy your product). Your site is not successful until that desired action is taken. When a visitor takes that desired action, you’ve had a conversion. If you have millions of visitors coming to your site daily and no one converts, not only do you have an unsuccessful marketing campaign, but also a big hosting bill.

Attracting traffic is easy. The tricky part is converting it. And that’s the purpose of your landing page.

What is a Landing Page?

A landing page is the page visitors arrive at after clicking on your promotional creative.

Your landing page has to convince the visitor to stay and (depending on your goal):

  • Fill out a form (but people hate filling out forms)
  • Provide personal details (but people hate getting spammed)
  • Buy something (but people hate being scammed)
  • Read a lot of information (but people really hate reading)

As you can see, there are some major obstacles to getting visitors to do what you want on your landing page. You have to convince people to do things they hate. This is why typical conversion rates are extremely low. Here are some rates from the Fireclick Index.

Conversion rates from Fireclick Index
Vertical Conversion Rate (%)
Catalog 6.1
Specialty stores 3.9
Fashion/apparel 2.2
Travel 2.1
Home and furnishing 2.0
Sport/outdoors 1.4
Electronics 1.1
All verticals 2.3

We’re talking about a very low rate, from 1-6%.

Before we get into the details about landing page design, let’s think about the visitors.

Think About Your User

Most people don’t come to your landing page and look at every single design element. They come looking for clues to quickly answer their questions.

They want to know:

  • “Is this the right place?”
  • “Is this how I imagined it would be?”
  • “Should I click the back button?”
  • “Does this look trustworthy?”
  • “How much time is this going to take?”

Your landing page needs to address all these issues immediately. If your design elements are not focused enough and/or distract the visitor, expect high page abandonment.

Next, visitors think: “Should I accept this offer?”

This is where your marketing copy and pitch comes in. Visitors will scan your intro copy, media content, product information, testimonials, and design value and decide whether or not to convert.

Even after a customer has decided to accept your offer, the conversion can be lost. Any flaw in site functionality and usability can cause you to lose the conversion, so ensure your privacy information is posted and there are no hiccups in form processing.

11 Tips to Improve Your Landing Page

  1. Define Your ConversionBefore you start to design your landing page, define that page’s conversion activity. For a newsletter landing page, the conversion activity is entering an email address into a form and clicking “Accept.”
  2. Do a Little ResearchA little demographic research goes a long way. Figure out what your visitor is looking for and what offers work. Build a profile of your ideal visitor. Keep this person in mind when creating your landing page. Do not construct the page for anyone else—generic and broad pages are proven to fail—and keep everything “on target.” Your ad campaign already funnels traffic to your landing page, so visitors are expecting a very targeted message. Tailor the pages to them.
  3. Eliminate unneeded ElementsDistractions kill conversions. Strip any unneeded elements from the page. This is not your home page. Anyone who comes to your landing page has already been screened by your ad. They expect a very specific message.
  4. Match the CreativeThe landing page and creative should match. The easiest way to clue visitors in that they have arrived at the right place is to use the heading from your ad creative.
  5. Remove NavigationIf you can, remove the navigation bar. Of course, don’t remove it if it is essential to the conversion process. Remember your message, and if a link has nothing to with it—chuck it!
  6. Stay FocusedAvoid the urge to promote or link to other areas of your site. The point of the landing page is to prevent your visitor from wandering. You want them converting, not clicking around to other parts of your site and marveling at your Flash animations. Imagine if GAP encouraged shoppers entering their stores to leave and walk around the mall. Once they stop thinking about your offer, you’ve lost them.
  7. Important Elements Above the “Fold”Pay attention to the virtual fold (the bottom of the screen before scrolling). Place enough content above the fold to allow your visitor to make a decision about continuing on the site. If a visitor has to click or scroll to figure out what your site is about, the only thing they’ll click is the back button.
  8. Provide Conversion ExitsMake it easy for your visitor to convert. Place conversion exits above the fold and at every scroll-and-a-half of screen space.
  9. Lead the EyeUse typography and color to your advantage. Lead the eye along the page towards the conversion exit. Thoughtful use of whitespace, large copy and graphics can make a long page seem much shorter than it really is. Be careful though—a great image will demand a lot of eye time and if misplaced can ruin the flow of your message.Place the important stuff (whether it’s your copy or your image) close to the middle, and never distract your user from that focal point. Avoid putting interesting material in sidebars. This pulls the eye away from the main body. If it’s interesting and valuable, keep it close to the center and use it to direct the eye.
  10. Fix FormsOptimize your forms. Make the input cursor hop to the next field after a user finishes the current field. Allow the user to tab around fields. Auto-populate any fields you can.Remove all unneeded fields. Don’t ask for city/state/province if you ask for a Zip or postal code. Focus on the essentials.If you’re asking users to register for a newsletter, ask for only an email address. You don’t need their name now. Get rid of the reset button. It’s dangerous for both the user and you.
  11. Test, Test, TestAfter you have finished the design of your landing page, test it with a small user group. Go over a checklist with your design team:
    • Is the whole page focused?
    • Does the message match the advertisement?
    • Have you reduced all distractions?
    • Is critical information above the fold?
    • Are there enough conversion exits?
    • Does the page enhance your brand?

Landing page design examples  from smileycat.com designs

+++contents from digital web magazine

By max macapagal Posted in Posts

Designing Style Guides

Designing Style Guides for Brands/Websites

A website is never done. Everyone has worked on a project that changed so much after it launched that they no longer wanted it in their portfolio. One way to help those who take over your projects is to produce a style guide. Although there’s no stopping some clients from making their website awful, by creating a style guide, you’re effectively establishing rules for those who take over from you.

Why Create A Style Guide?

  • You’ll have an easy guide to refer to when handing over the project.
  • Makes you look professional. They’ll know you did everything for a reason
  • You maintain control of the design. When someone does something awful, you can refer them to the document.
  • You avoid cheapening the design, message and branding.
  • Forces you to define and hone your style, making for a more cohesive design.

Branding Guidelines: What To Include?

Strategic Brand Overview

This should be short and sweet. In as few words as possible, make clear the vision for this design and any keywords people should keep in mind while designing. Most people will probably flip straight to the picture pages, but they may read a few sentences here.

Brand Essence: At the heart of our identity is our essence, encapsulated in the phrase ‘Creating Space to Grow’. This is not only about the Kew organisation, but also about the people who have contact with it and its work. Escape. Enrich. Enlighten. Enjoy. These are at the core of what we’re about. We represent the opportunity to escape from everyday worries, enrich the mind in a beautiful place, become enlightened about the natural world and, not least, enjoy ourselves in a unique environment. These are the benefits that everyone who engages with Kew can hope to experience. The focus of our identity is on science and conservation. To help communicate this we have created a consumer facing strapline – Plants People Possibilities. It defines what the brand stands for, ensuring consistency and credibility for all our key stakeholders and acting as an anchor for all communications and activities around the brand.
See Kew’s branding guidelines.

Kew uses strong photography in its “brand essence” message, with a few paragraphs that both inspire and define the brand. Even if you read only the first sentence, you get a sense of what it’s trying to do. While Kew has quite a few of these message pages, they are intertwined with beautiful photography that themselves define the photographic style and primary message.

Logos

For print and Web, most brands revolve around the logo. Make sure you provide logo variations and clarify minimum sizes.

Cunard logo options
See Cunard’s branding guidelines.

Cunard provides many variations on its minimum sizes. Because its crest can be displayed either on its own, with the name or with the tagline, specifying minimum sizes is important for legibility (for example, if the logo with the tagline is too small, it will be illegible).

Correct usage of the logo: The Think Brick logo has been specially designed as a unit and must not be recreated. These correct variations of the logos are supplied with the official brand aftwork. Consistent application of the logos will reinforce Think Brick as a brand.
See Think Brick’s branding guidelines.

Provide logos with different colors, and specify which colours are allowed. Think Brick gives designers a lot of options with its design. The point is to allow flexibility while maintaining consistency.

Show Examples of What and What Not to Do

You’re a professional, and you know better than to mess around with logos. But many others will try and think they’ve done a good job. They are so wrong. You must make clear what they can and cannot do with a design.

LOGO USAGE DON’TS 1. Don’t change the logo’s orientation. 2. Don’t bevel or emboss the logo. 3. Don’t place the logo on a busy photograph or pattern. 4. Don’t change the logo colors. 5. Don’t crop the logo in any way. 6. Don’t add “glow” effects to the logo. 7. Don’t present the logo on “vibrating” colored backgrounds. 8. Don’t present the logo in “outline only” fashion. 9. Don’t place the logo on similarly-colored backgrounds. 10. Don’t outline the logo in any color. 11. Don’t add “drop shadow” effects to the logo. 12. Don’t put a white box around the logo when placed on a dark or busy background. 13. Don’t reconfigure or change the size or placement of any logo elements. 14. Don’t stretch or squeeze the logo to distort proportions. 15. Don’t recreate elements or replace with something else.
See I Love New York’s branding guidelines.

I Love New York has done a great job defining all the things you shouldn’t do with its logo. It has also produced a beautiful (though bit wordy) document.

Spacing

Many non-designers underestimate the need for white space. Include a spacing reference, especially for the logo. Rather than specifying inches or centimeters, use a portion of the logo (a letter or a shape) to set the clearance. This way, whether the logo is big or small, the space around it will be sufficient.

To preserve the BlackBerry logo’s integrity, always maintain a minimum clear space around the logo. This clear space isolates the logo from competing graphic elements such as other logos, copy, photography or background patterns that may divert attention. The minimum clear space for the BlackBerry logo and the alternate horizontal logo is defined as the height of the “B” in the wordmark. The minimum clear space for the alternate vertical logo is twice the height of “B.” This minimum space should be maintained as the logo is proportionally enlarged or reduced in size.
See BlackBerry’s branding guidelines (PDF, 2.2 MB).

BlackBerry not only explains its spacing policy, but also uses the capital B in the logo to define the clearance.

Colors

Always include color palettes and what the colors should be used for. And include formats for both print and Web: CMYK, Pantones (if they exist) and RGB (or HEX). Always include a CMYK alternative for Pantones because sometimes matching is hard (especially when Pantone printing is not possible). Specify primary and secondary colours and when and where to use them.


See Channel 4′s style guide.

Channel 4 shows all of its Web and print colors, and it displays the swatches below an image that helps to define its color palette.


See the New School’s branding guidelines.

The New School is clear about its primary colors and defines them for both print (Pantone and CMYK) and Web (RGB). Its brand guideline document is beautiful, too.

Chris Doyle's personal identity colour alternatives.
See Christopher Doyle’s Personal Identity Guidelines.

Okay, so this one isn’t a traditional branding guideline, but rather a personal identity guideline. Here Christopher Doyle shows off some alternative color palettes. He does a fantastic job of mocking branding guidelines; well worth a look (and chuckle).

Fonts

You’ll need to define the typefaces to use: sizes, line height, spacing before and after, colors, headline versus body font, etc. Make sure to include Web alternatives for non-Web fonts.

Screenshot
See Yale’s typeface.

Yale has its own typeface, which it provides to its designers.


See Yale’s Visual Identity page.

On the typeface section of its website, Yale also details when fonts should be used. It has a specific Web font section, detailing which fonts to use there.

Layouts and Grids

By setting up templates and guidelines for grids, you encourage best practices and promote consistency. In Web, preparing some generic templates can curb excessive creativity with the layout.

global > graphic_elements.psd” width=”500″ height=”550″ />
See the Barbican’s branding, print and Web guidelines.

For its website, the Barbican has set up building blocks that are both flexible and ordered—meaning they’re likely to remain in a grid.

Tone of Voice

A huge component of a brand’s personality is the copy, and defining the tone is a great way to keep a brand consistent. When multiple people are writing the copy, the brand can start to sound like it has multiple personalities.

lingo tone of voice Don’t over complicate. Tell it like it is. Be direct and get to the point. Always look for the simplest way to say what you want. We believe that a message is better read when it’s simple to understand. Be direct and talk the language of your customer. They will appreciate your honesty and simplicity. Do not be afraid to use colloquialisms – or should we say... Do not be afraid to use plain and simple phrases? We’re never sexist, after all, easyGroup is for the many, not the few but we’re often cheeky and always try to raise a smile. For example, easyJet cabin crew have said, “If you have enjoyed your flight today, thank you for choosing easyJet. If you haven’t thank you for flying Ryanair!” and “It is a routine regulation that we dim the cabin lights for landing, it also enhances the beauty of our senior cabin crew!”
See easyJet’s branding guidelines (PDF, 2 MB).

easyJet has a well-defined personality, both verbal and written, and it gives examples for both.

Copy-Writing Guide

For those who require clients to write their own copy but want to maintain consistency, a copy-writing style guide can be helpful. Copy-writing is one of those things that most people register subconsciously. When reading, your brain automatically looks for consistency and patterns, and poor copy-writing can ruin the reading flow.

Corporate Communications: Dates and times Always write the date in full, without the use of commas: Thursday 25 March 2008 Only shorten the date to numerical form when labelling or naming documents. New chief executive appointed at The Mango Project (25.07.08) Always write out centuries in full: CAN Mezzanine was founded in the twenty-first century. Express the time using either the 12 hour or 24 hour clock: The meeting will run from 10.00am – 1.00 pm. Training begins promptly at 4.00. Do not use a combination of both: The centre opens at 10 o’clock and shuts at 16.00pm.
See CAN’s branding guidelines (PDF, 845 KB).

CAN wants its number formats to look the same. On another page, it defines which spelling variants to use, reminds people of common mistakes and more.

Imagery

Many designers have established a particular tone in their photographs and images. Show your clients examples, and explain why they are good choices. Show them in the context of your design, and explain why they were chosen for that context.

Key principles of Zopa's illustrative style
See Zopa’s style sheet (PDF, 3.7 MB).

Zopa has done a fantastic job of making its illustrated style clear. Its online style guide is very good, and it offers further tips on how to construct pages around its illustrations in the online style sheet.

Bring It All Together

Show a few examples of what the logo, photography and text look like together and the preferred formats.

Skype showing text, illustration, photography together
See Skype’s branding guidelines.

Skype has done a fantastic job of showing how it want designers to use its illustrations and photography. It has examples of the subtle differences between good and bad usage. The whole guide is beautiful and well worth a look.

Web Guidelines: What To Include?

Many people create branding guidelines but forget to include important style guides for the Web. Just like branding guidelines, Web guidelines keep everything consistent, from button styles to navigation structure.

Button Hierarchy

You’ve carefully decided what all the buttons are for and meticulously defined their states. Unfortunately, the in-house designer hasn’t applied your hover states or has created their own, and they look terrible.

Create a page that shows what all links do (including the buttons), the appropriate behavior of each and when to use them (with examples of appropriate usage). If one button is dominant, make clear the maximum number of times it should be used per page (usually once at most). Define the hover, disabled and visited states for all buttons.

gumtree button states
Gumtree.

Gumtree has worked hard to define all button states, especially custom buttons (for example, Post an Ad has a +sign in front of it). These were defined for the Gumtree redesign, which is now live.

Icons

Defining size and spacing and where to use icons is another great way to promote consistency. If icons should be used only sparingly, make this clear.


See ZURB’s icon sizes.

Here, the ZURB agency defines icon sizes and when to use them, and it provides clients with an online source from which to download them. ZURB also defines badges and explains their purpose. It believes that its guidelines are best shared online.

Navigation (Logged In/Out States)

On the Web, good consistent navigation can make or break a website. New pages are often added to a website after the designer is done with it. Have you left some space for this? Doing things like letting people know what to do with new navigation items and showing logged-in states make for a cleaner website.

The global masthead retains the current global navigation links with additional links in an overlay panel. BBC iD and accessibility preferences are positioned to the right of the BBC blocks. The masthead is black but 60% opaque.
See the BBC’s Global Experience Language.

This is one of the most beautiful guidelines I’ve seen. BBC shows what to do with long user names, how much space everything should have and more.

Basic Coding Guidelines

There’s no way to make someone else code like you, but you can offer others basic guidelines that will minimize the damage, such as:

  • CSS class naming conventions
    Should they use .camelCase or .words-with-dashes?
  • JavaScript integration
    Are you using jQuery? MooTools? How should new JavaScript be integrated?
  • Form styling
    Include the code, error states and more so that they understand what style conventions you expect.
  • Doc type and validation requirements
    Do you allow certain invalid items? Do you expect the CSS and HTML to validate?
  • Directory structure
    Make clear how you have organized it.
  • Accessibility standards
    Should people include alt tags? Is image replacement used for non-standard fonts?
  • Testing methods
    Which standard should they test with? Do you have staging and production websites?
  • Version control
    What system are you using? How should they check in new code?

How To Format

Some branding guidelines have been turned into beautiful books:


See the Truth brand guidelines.

This beautiful example, which was designed to go with a brand redesign, shows just how beautiful branding guidelines can be.

But this requires a substantial budget and a reprint every so often. For most companies with tight budgets, this is not practical. On the Web especially, content is constantly being refined and styles for elements are not set in stone.

Here are a few good practices for formatting your guidelines:

  • Include a cover
    This should include an example of best practices for the logo.
  • Make it beautiful
    Even if it won’t be printed as a book, you can still make sure the branding guidelines appeal to the viewer. After all, you’re trying to inspire them to use your designs to the highest standards!
  • Include contact details
    For when they have questions, so that you can prevent bad decisions from being made.
  • Make it easy to access and open
    Usually this means putting it online or in PDF format. Don’t make it too big; use images sparingly.
  • Make it printable
    For international companies especially, keep margins big so that the document can be printed in both A4 and US letter sizes. If it’s online, make sure your print style sheets render the document as expected. Don’t do white text on a black background, either: you don’t want the client to have to buy a new ink cartridge every time they print a copy.
  • Make it easy to change
    Updating, adding new pages and making changes should be easy, because it will happen!
  • Create a mini version
    Make a short handy guide that has just the basics, in addition to the full version. Both will get used in different instances.
  • Provide print templates whenever possible
    Things like letterheads, business cards and envelops should have their own templates. While guidelines will help people put things in the right spot, they usually won’t help them get the right resolution or color format.


Here’s a useful template for a one-page branding guideline.

Length

Remember, people should be able to follow branding guidelines. A 100-page book will engage none but the most diligent designer. Many believe that a concise three-page overview is best for daily use, with a more in-depth 20-page document for more complex tasks. Less is more, usually!

bbc poster
See the BBC’s branding guidelines and poster.

The BBC has created a detailed 38-page guideline. But it has also produced a beautiful poster for quick reference. It’s a brilliant idea, and it keeps the guidelines at the front of mind.

+++contents from smashing magazine.com by Kat Neville

By max macapagal Posted in Posts

Top 4 SEO Myths

Whether you are a mommy blogger or you’re trying to put together a website for your small business, there are multitude of blogs and online articles telling you how to optimize your website for search engines. But the SEO world is shifting constantly, and a lot of information that may have been great advice a year ago (or 6 months ago) may now be out of date and could actually hurt your SEO.

If you’ve heard these SEO myths before, don’t believe them—even if they come through a so-called SEO company. And when you know what the myths are, you can more easily focus on the kind of SEO is more important.

1. Keyword Density

If an SEO firm is still concentrating on keyword density, stay away from them, they are not up on the latest SEO practices, and could make your site rank tank.

It has been proven time and time again that the number of keywords you have on a page has virtually no relation to how high you will appear in search results. In fact, after the recent Google Panda update, having too many keywords on a page might be a red flag and get you downgraded in the search engine results.

Best Advice: Include your keywords naturally throughout your page and don’t worry about density. If you make your site pages easy to read for real people (not search engines), Google will give you more love.

2. Content Length

Keyword density is a big myth, but content length is right on its heels. Content length is only important to the extent that it gives you enough space to communicate your message effectively. If you can do it in 500 words, great. If you can do it in 50 words, fantastic.

In other words, there is no magic number of words on a page that is going to help you rank higher. In fact, if you have too many words—to the point that you keep repeating yourself—you will lower your site usability and Google will downgrade you.

Best Advice: Clearly and succinctly give your site visitors the information they need. If you have good content, no matter the length, people will like your website and Google will push you higher.

3. Meta-Keywords

Most search engines these days don’t even look at your meta-keywords (the “hidden” keywords that describe your site), so these are not extremely important—unless you are still living in 1998. That being said, if your meta-keywords don’t match your site content, that could be a red flag for Google.

Best Advice: Include a handful (3-5) meta-keywords that most aptly describe the content of your site—for the sake of consistency—but don’t expect them to help you rank.

4. TLDs Are King

TLDs (Top-level domains: i.e., .com, .net, .org, etc.) are no longer preferred over lesser-known domains, like .ly, .is, .me., and more. If you want a site that is personalized with an unusual domain, go for it—it won’t hurt your chances of being found through a search engine.

Best Advice: Although search engines don’t prefer .com’s over other domains, .com has been the standard for years and is the format most people are familiar with—although people are getting used to more creative domains. Pick a domain that is best for your site, brand, and audience, regardless of what domain it has.

Quality is the Best Strategy

Overall, Google is more concerned about “quality” factors today than they are about keywords, word length, or other out-dated SEO practices. If you want to optimize your site for the web, simply create an easy-to-use site with good information that is easily sharable around the web—that’s the best SEO strategy.

+++contents from asteriskcontent.com

By max macapagal Posted in Posts

Writing Compelling Web Copy

10 Principles for Writing Compelling Web Copy

Writing for the Web is its own genre. Online people are browsers; they pop onto a site, look around for 30 seconds, and move on if nothing new catches their eye. Capturing and keeping our visitors’ attention is crucial to Bartlett’s success. To achieve that goal, your writing must be both compelling and persuasive.

The following 10 principles are essential for writing exceptional Web-based content

1. It’s All About the Reader: Put yourself in our reader’s shoes: They’re busy people who are efficient, effective, and probably tired. They come craving immediate insight and easy-to-digest information. If you put the reader first, the rest will follow.

2. Brevity is Clarity: Make it easy for readers to consume your ideas. Avoid sentence over 35 words long, and eschew paragraphs over six sentences long. Also, alternating your sentence format and length adds energy to words.

3. Clarity is Key: Don’t make assumptions about the audience’s level of knowledge or sophistication. Tell the readers exactly what they need to know. If you are unclear or overly technical, they will quit reading.

4. Use Vigorous Language: Vibrant verbs and powerful nouns enliven your writing; avoid adverbs or adjectives wherever possible (except when describing verbs and nouns).

5. Distinguish Yourself: Content (what you say) and style (how you say it) work together to keep readers coming back for more. Focus on delivering transformative information and ideas with panache and aplomb.

6. Say it New: The majority of information you present will not be new; however, if you present this material from a new perspective, your readership will rocket.

7. Get Creative: Find subtle ways to reframe your main ideas without repeating yourself (metaphors, analogies, and anecdotes help). Admittedly, this is a fine line.

8. Ditch the Hype: Instead of exposing your latest 5-point plan to cure (fill-in-the-blank), be a knowledgeable proponent of balanced, vibrant, and prosperous living.

9. Tell a Good Story: Don Hewitt built the most successful news program in TV history,60 Minutes, on one simple premise: “Tell me a story.” If you tell a good story, people naturally want to read more.

10. Offer Solutions: Solve people’s problems. Web users are impatient information seekers by nature, which means they are hungry for new data, products, and solutions. Give the people what they want.

As you incorporate these principles into your content, keep in mind these are recommendations—not rules. Don’t try to work this entire list into any every piece of copy. Instead, play around with a few of the ideas presented here, writing and rewriting your content to see which ones work best for you.

By max macapagal Posted in Posts

SEO basics

SEO basics

Search engines help connect Internet users with the information they’re seeking. Here’s how search engines work:

Search engines analyze the words on webpages, especially words that are repeated or otherwise called out: in boldface, in a headline, in a link, and so on. The engine records those important words and phrases—the page’s keywords—on its servers.

When you type the words you’re looking for into a search box, the engine tries to match your words with the words from webpages it has analyzed, and it then delivers a list of matches. The engine organizes that list from best to worst, ranking the results according to a variety of criteria (such as how many other sites find a page valuable and link to it).

People usually click the links on the first page of results, so sites at the top of the list are more likely to get visitors. And more visitors can mean more page views, more leads, more sales, more ad revenue, and other business benefits.

A number of SEO (search engine optimization) techniques exist to give sites an advantage in this ranking, and many of these apply to Web design. But as a content creator, your best SEO techniques are

  •  To write information-rich copy that people will want to read and link to
  •  To figure out which words people are likely to use in searches, and then embed those keywords throughout your copy.

SEO copywriting is about using the exact terms that people are searching on so that it’s completely obvious what your page or article is about. SEO copywriting is not about trying to trick search engines by stuffing content with unrelated keywords or with so many keywords that the copy sounds silly.

Good SEO copywriting makes your page more readable for both search engines and humans. It helps your website attract visitors, but it also helps your visitors find substantial, relevant content.

Best practices in brief

SEO is competitive: There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get your site on a first page of search results. But as a content creator, you can help bump up your site’s ranking just by optimizing the text and links.

Here are the basic principles of good SEO for writers and editors:

  • Offer original content with genuine value and relevance to your readers.
  • Strategically seed your copy with keywords that describe your content and that correspond with the phrases people are using to perform their searches.
  • Embed keywords where they matter most: in the title, headings, links, metadata (part of your page’s source code), and image and video tags.
  • Make every page of your site unique: In addition to original content, each page should have its own topic, title, and page-specific keywords (though you can use the highest-volume keywords throughout your site—see “Keyword research tools” for assistance in finding the best keywords).
  • Deliver on the promise of your keywords: Don’t lure people to your site with words that don’t accurately represent your content.
  • Link to other relevant sites, and encourage those sites to link to yours.
  • Optimize your site for people first—through clear, concise writing—and for search engines second. Implement SEO without turning your text into nonsense.

TIP: All the SEO copywriting skill in the world won’t help your site if a search engine can’t read it. This is the case with text saved as an image: The image looks like a blank portion of the page to a search engine. Avoid saving text as an image.

How search engines read a webpage

Even though people and search engines scan webpages differently, there are some similarities:

  • Page title. Both people and search engines need to know at a glance what a page is about. The page title, sometimes called the <title> tag, is inserted in the code of a webpage. You’ll see it in the top bar of a Web browser, as in the following example.

Example
The top news headlines on current events from Yahoo! News

The <title> tag for this page is “The top news headlines on current events from Yahoo! News.”

See “Coding basics” for examples of other HTML tags, both in page code and as they will appear in a browser.

  • Headlines, emphasized words, and lists. Both people and search engines know that anything called out in headlines or subheadings, in boldface or italics, or in bulleted lists is likely to be important. Make sure headings, links, and lists in your Web copy are called out withHTML tags.
  • Introduction and conclusion. Readers will scan your opening paragraph or your summary for quick information. And search engines, to understand what the subject of a page is, look for keywords throughout that page, including at the top (the introduction) and the bottom (the conclusion). But don’t just shove keywords into the top or the bottom of your page—distribute them evenly throughout.
  • Related links. Humans appreciate options for more information. Search engines, too, like to see that you’ve linked to other websites and that other websites have linked to yours.

Search engines and people both like:

  • Verbosity. In the search engine world, verbosity means substantial, relevant, original content. Do fill your page with words, but write succinctly: Make sure that every word you write is relevant to your audience and to the topic you’re addressing.
  • Good writing. To a search engine, good writing means using variations of your keywords, including those with different endings. For example, if you are targeting the phrase job interview, use the singular, plural, -ing, and -ed forms, such as job interviews and job interviewing.

Search engines and people both dislike:

  • Bad writing. Search engines are more likely to penalize your website when you stuff your copy with unrelated keywords, strand a list of keywords at the bottom of your page, and rely toomuch on headlines and links. Your entire page should be relevant: Like a muffin with the right amount of blueberries, it should have juicy keywords distributed evenly throughout, but not so many that they overwhelm the whole.
  • Broken links. Search engines want to provide a great experience for their customers by directing them to a useful and informative website that works properly. Broken links tell people and search engines that a site is poorly maintained and will give people a bad experience.

+++contents from Yahoo basics

By max macapagal Posted in Posts

Principles of web copy editing

Writing effective web copy isn’t easy.

But good copy is essential to ensuring that your readers — and your customers, if you run a business — can understand how your website works and what it can do for them.

The guidelines this document describes will tell you how to improve the user experience on your site. They apply to web copy generally — both marketing copy and navigational (or instructional or “guide”) copy — and their value is indirect but significant: Observing them will improve your site’s ability to do its job well.

These principles aren’t intended to catalog the tricks of the copywriting trade, however; they concern only the adjustments a writer should make in writing web copy in particular. Nor are they intended to be applied to content in the form of articles, essays, stories or other texts that readers may also find online, but that are ends in themselves. Those forms of writing do not necessarily observe the principles described here.

Here are some basic principles for writing good web copy.

Remember three key things about web users

People don’t read websites the same way they read print material. There are three key characteristics that affect how web users react to online content (and consumer-related content in particular):

  • Web users are active, not passive: One click and they’re gone. If they don’t see a reason to stay on your site, they’ll leave — in as little as 15 seconds after they get there.
  • The longer the text, the less likely they are to read it — and the faster they’ll skim it, if they bother to skim it at all.
  • They don’t believe hype. If you want a web user to believe what you say, you have to back it up.

To be effective, your web copy must take these characteristics into account.

Anticipate your site’s users’ questions

There are four basic questions a user has that you must answer on every page: “What am I doing here,” “How do I do it,” “What’s in it for me,” and “Where can I go next?” If your site’s navigation and design don’t make the answers obvious to even a first-time visitor — which they should, if at all possible — then you should use copy to explain them.

Don’t count on your site’s visitors to figure things out for themselves — half of them won’t bother to try, and half the rest won’t succeed.

Keep most copy short

Unless a visitor arrives at a particular page on your site expecting to find something to read, he or she probably won’t read more than one or two lines of text. And the longer the text, the less likely he is to read any of it. Don’t add long copy to any page where your visitors aren’t looking for it.

Keep short copy simple

The complexity of your copy matters as much as its length. Make sure visitors can understand short copy on its first reading, without stopping to think about it. (They won’t.)

Typically, you can convey one key idea effectively in one or two lines. You can sometimes get two, if they’re both simple. Don’t try for three; try to say too much and you ruin the chance that even the first idea will get through. (And if a new user isn’t going to be able to understand a page on your site without learning three new things first, it’s time to think about a redesign.)

If you anticipate that readers will want to learn more about something they find on a page where they weren’t expecting a lot of copy, add a link to another page where they can get the information they need.

Organize longer copy effectively

Even when readers are expecting to find a text-heavy page, they won’t necessarily be willing to put much effort into reading it. Make it easy for them by dividing distinct ideas into separate paragraphs, using helpful headings, sub-headings and bulletted lists, and introducing key ideas deliberately.

Don’t assume readers will read longer pieces of text in their entirety — write the copy so that readers can skim it and read only the parts they’re interested in.

Longer copy needn’t be as direct as short copy, but it must be just as easy to read. If your visitors have to work too hard to understand what it’s saying, they’ll stop reading.

Make it lively

Be clear, but don’t be boring. Write vividly and aim for a light, unassuming tone of voice. It takes a little while for boring or overbearing copy to affect a reader, but once it does, practically nothing you say with it will get through.

Focus on your core audience

You can’t reach everyone. Make sure your copy addresses your site’s most important audience directly and lets them know what the site can do for them in particular. Don’t weaken its effectiveness by adding words intended for readers you don’t need.

If you are targeting more than one kind of visitor, design your site to direct the different audiences to different pages on the site. If a web user doesn’t think your site has something of value to him, he’ll go somewhere else. But if your message speaks directly to his needs, he’ll listen.

Use a consistent voice throughout

The more consistent a voice you create — and the better it speaks to your intended audience in particular — the quicker your visitors will recognize it and become familiar with it. And the more familiar it is to them, the more effective it will be.

Let the facts speak for themselves

Don’t talk down to or past your audience. Make your descriptions compelling, but not excessive. Web readers read hype as hype, and remember it that way, too. Skip it.

+++contents from Matt Pfeiffer; Provinance unknown

By max macapagal Posted in Posts