One of our main mantras that we follow is to always use engaging content. To have that conversation with your potential client on the website that you’d have in person. That covers “what” you say. But, how you organize that content is equally important.
If your content isn’t organized in a hierarchical way, people will struggle to get your message. We’re going to tackle the solution so that your potential clients are spoon-fed your message.
The use of headings and subheadings on a page is critical. People don’t read, they scan. And, if nothing stands out, they may leave.
Your Outline Still Works
Let’s go back to grade school or middle school. Remember outlines when you were writing a paper?
Once you created your outline, then you started writing your paper, using the headings and adding paragraphs of content. So, let’s translate that into headings today.
HTML has 6 headings: H1 through H6. H1 is the most important, generally styled the largest on the page and H6 the least. And, it’s important to use them “in order” – i.e. don’t jump from a Heading 2 to a Heading 4 just because you want something to stand out but be a lot smaller.
“We do use H tags to understand the structure of the text on a page better”
– John Mueller, Google 2015
The first roman numeral is the equivalent of the title or name of your page. And, will be auto coded as a Heading 1. Google doesn’t care how many you use, but to keep your page semantically correct, stick with one.
Your A / B headings translate to Heading 2. And the numbered sub-headings translate to a Heading 3. If headings are correctly used and you’re writing “normal” content, we rarely see the need for using the Heading 4, 5, or 6.
People don’t read, they scan! If used correctly, your headings will pull people down the page, highlighting the key points they need to know and letting them know the content of the paragraphs below the heading.
Google loves headings!
Google “listens” to over 200 signals to determine ranking for websites, and headings have been a key feature ever since Google was born. Initially, putting keywords in the headings were required for ranking. Now, Google looks at a heading to help describe the content on your page. So, having a keyword in there is still important… if it relates to the content you’re going to share in the next paragraph.
Here are a few tips to make your headings shine.
- Headings should be short – 5-6 words
- Add keywords that are relevant to the page
- Use them in semantic order so your content is properly organized
- Introduce the content in the paragraph below
- Don’t use them just to make a sentence big and bold
Organizing Your Content
You’ve got your headings organized and sparkling, but below, your paragraphs are long, unbroken blocks of content made up of big long sentences… you’re still going to lose people. So, let’s talk about the last piece of organizing your content.
Old school (grade or middle school), we were taught to keep a paragraph together as long as it was on the same “sub topic”. For the web, you want shorter paragraphs – because people are scanning. And, if there’s a few words within your paragraph that you want to have stand out – use bold.
There are a ton of resources out there. Here are a couple of great summaries.
Our friends at YoastSEO have a great article on how to write great paragraphs. I want to highlight a point they make.
“A good paragraph provides information on one single, well-defined aspect of the topic you’re discussing in your article.”
Usability.gov has an article on Writing for the Web, and they cover all the important points we’ve identified. Here are their recommendations for paragraphs:
- Use short sentences and paragraphs. The ideal standard is no more than 20 words per sentence, five sentences per paragraph. Use dashes instead of semi-colons or, better yet, break the sentence into two. It is ok to start a sentence with “and,” “but,” or “or” if it makes things clear and brief.
- Use bullets and numbered lists. Don’t limit yourself to using this for long lists – one sentence and two bullets is easier to read than three sentences.
When your content is written and organized properly it should be the invisible hand on your website guiding people through the information they need in order to click the button and become your client.