Category Archives: Web Design

Writing for tags and tags

The Key to Optimized Content: Heading and Paragraph Tags

In my recent post “How Important is Written Content on a Website?“,  I said that Google encourages well-organized content using the heading and paragraph tags. It’s worth filling in some detail.

HTML Tags

Web pages are made of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) tags mostly hidden from visitors. When you write content for the web, you should understand two important tags: heading tags and paragraph tags.  Even if you only write content and don’t create web pages, these tags are important offering several advantages.

  • Accessibility
    Screen readers use headline structure a lot. Unorganized headlines break accessibility.
  • Consistent Appearance Throughout Your Site
    When heading and paragraph tags are used, text styles can easily apply to all pages. It keeps the appearance of your text consistent throughout your site.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Search engines use heading tags as a guide to the content of the page.
  • Usability
    When your words are organized and have a consistent appearance, it’s easier for visitors to scan your pages and find information.
  • Site-Wide Updates with Cascading Style Sheets
    CSS is the current standard for designing and updating the appearance of web sites. It makes for faster page load, site-wide consistency and easy updates.

Writing for Heading and Paragraph Tags

Heading tags (<h1>, <h2> up to <h6>) begin sections and subsections of written content. They are usually displayed as headlines.

Paragraph tags (<p>) create areas of regular text, you know, paragraphs. They are usually displayed as blocks of smaller text below headlines.

Use One Top-Level Heading per Page

For Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the top-level heading tag (<h1>) is most important. Search engines give more weight to this headline.

You should have only one top-level heading per page. This is not a strict rule, but it’s a good rule of thumb for the content of a page.

Subsections Should Use Heading 2-6

After the first headline, other heading tags mark subsections of a page. They are sub-topics of the main headline for the page.

Include Keywords in Headings

Include a few important keywords  in your headlines. Search engines give a little more weight to text in heading tags.

Keyword
Any word or phrase your customers use when searching for your company, product or service on a search engine.

Headlines for People

Aside from SEO, headlines are important in any advertising copy.

Most people scan web pages and read the headlines. Some read more, but almost everybody reads the top headlines.

Here’s what advertising legend David Ogilvy said about headlines.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

—David Ogilvy

Headlines are important for visitors, not just search engines. They should be compelling, intriguing or useful to your target audiences.

Paragraphs

Under any headline, paragraphs provide information relevant to the headline.

Organize Content in an Outline

If possible, organize page content in an outline like this. (The indentation below is included to better show the subsections. It’s not meant for regular use on websites.)

Top Level Headline (Formatted with <h1>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to the main subject of the page.

Second Level Headline (formatted with <h2>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the main subject of the page.

Third Level Headline (formatted with <h3>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related  to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the second level headline.

Third Level Headline (formatted with <h3>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the second level headline.

Second Level Headline (formatted with <h2>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the main subject of the page.

Third Level Headline (formatted with <h3>)

Paragraphs, pictures and video related to this headline, which is a sub-topic of the second level headline.

You can use headings 1 to 6, nesting each subsection within higher level sections.

This outline format is not super critical, but for all the reasons listed above, it’s a good practice.

Keyboard Written Content

How Important is Written Content on a Website?

A client recently asked a question like this: “How important are the specific words on a website?” I didn’t have a quick answer because there are conflicting factors at play, especially for a small business. Here’s the full answer.

Any Word Could Be Important

I’m about to say that the exact wording isn’t top priority, but I want to first point out how the exact wording can be important.

Professional copywriters study and practice the craft of saying things in the perfect way. Every word counts

For instance, should you say “for 15 years” or “since 1999”? According to David Ogilvy in “Ogilvy on Advertising”, it depends on your audience. If your audience is old enough to remember the year, the number of years (15 years) year seems more distant in the past. If your audience is not old enough to remember the year, the exact year (1999) seems more distant. That book was written in 1985, so today I think the turn of the century makes a difference. I think since we’re in 2014, years from the 1900’s seem more distant.

Any detail like that could be important in website copy. At a large scale, any detail could change the response enough that you should care about every detail.

Small Business Websites – Content is Important in a Different Way

For small businesses, the exact wording is important, but often perfect isn’t required. It can take a long time to work out the perfect phrasing of every page. That time costs money. Generally, small businesses won’t see a return on a big investment in perfect copy.

Wording is still important. You want to be positive, highlighting the benefits of your company and services. The style should fit the business. The writing should be grammatically correct with correct spelling and punctuation.

But it doesn’t have to be word-smithed like a high-dollar, national advertising campaign. Small businesses can benefit from a website with relevant content, even if it’s not perfect.

Keywords in the Titles, Headlines and Copy

On any website keywords are important. And by “keyword” I mean any word or phrase your customers use when searching for your company, product or service.

Search engines use the content of sites when creating search engine results pages (SERPs). So it’s very important that keywords be included in the HTML titles, headlines (specifically in HTML headline tags) as well as in the paragraphs. In fact, Google encourages well-organized content using the headline tags and paragraphs.

Content Quality and Quantity

Generally, the more content, the better the Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but quality is also important. The major search engines want to provide relevant, quality results, so they also screen for quality and sometimes penalize sites that overly repeat keywords or have low-quality, black-hat content.

So good content is important. Organized content is important. And a base quantity of content is important. But the precise wording…well, it’s important, but for most small businesses, there’s a low point of diminishing returns on the effort to create perfect copy.

Be positive. Use correct grammar and spelling. Create content relevant to your audience and business. After that, tweak and perfect the content based on your time, resources and potential return on the costs.

WordPress, Woman Celebrating Wordpress

WordPress…You Heard of It, Right?

WordPress is used on lots of websites.

  • What is it?
  • Should you use it?

That’s this month’s topic.


What is WordPress?

WordPress is free, open source software for creating websites. “Open source” means it’s developed by thousands of volunteer programmers and is free (open) to use.

There are others like Joomla and Drupal; they have their fans, but WordPress has won, so to speak. It’s more widely used, and it has a large community of people, groups and websites that offer WordPress themes (template designs) and plug-ins (extra features). There are thousands of options, probably tens of thousands.

Some themes are free but the best ones cost a little (from $30-$75). Compare this to the $500-$1500 for a custom design from scratch.

Many big companies still need custom development, but for small businesses and even big companies, WordPress offers a lot for the money. If blogging is part of your marketing strategy, WordPress is the best option for that.

WordPress works like other content management systems. It

  • runs on a web server.
  • uses a shell or template for most of the site design.
  • gets text and images (content) for each page from a database.
  • inserts that page content into the template.

Content Management System Flow Chart

Third-party plug-ins and themes can add features like calendars, search engine optimization and advanced forms. And lots more.

Could your site be built with WordPress?

For many small companies, the answer is usually yes. There are other great choices, but WordPress is usually a workable option. A basic installation is a good start; add some plug ins and a nice theme, it can do lots more.

Is it easy?

Yes and no.

Yes

It has lots of bells and whistles available, either free or at very reasonable prices. Generally, they work well together.

Strength: It’s all things to all people. It does lots of stuff with lots of options.

No

It has lots of bells and whistles available. Sometimes they don’t work well together.

WordPress by itself is very stable. Even with third-party plug ins, it’s pretty stable. But you know how computers work: problems can come up with any new plug-in or new version.

Weakness: It’s all things to all people. The code is complicated, glitches can occur, and the pages served to your audience are usually bigger than they need to be.

Should I Try WordPress Myself?

It’s worth a try. The simpler your needs, the more likely it will work easily. You’ll still have to study a little to learn how to install it and edit your site. If you have the time, why not? There are lots of hosting companies that offer cheap plans for DIY websites.

Professional WordPress Websites

Of course, Pacesetter Media can get your WordPress site up and running quickly and easily. Just like Pacesetter Site, you’ll be able to update your site once it’s set up. And we’ll make it look good, of course. 🙂

Call Pacesetter Media: 813-685-9206