Web Site Content Tips from Wikipedia

On the web, content is king. Excellent, dynamic content lures the search engines to visit your site more frequently, turns your casual visitors into regular readers, and gives your web site authority that can improve your rankings.

What kind of writing does it take to achieve these goals? Consider Wikipedia as an example.

Nearly any noun you type into a search engine will have Wikipedia on the front page of results. Tattoos, nanotechnology, Guglielmo Marconi, pilates – almost anything you search for, there Wikipedia will be.

How is Wikipedia getting those results? And how can you get a similar effect with the content of your own web site?

It’s often more cost-effective to have your content written professionally, especially when delays or diversion of staff from other tasks make the opportunity costs of in-house writing high. Sharp Hue, Inc. can provide professionally-written content designed to be effective for both the people who visit your web site and the search engines. Our knowledge of the best practices for search engine marketing and our objectivity allow us to find the words that will accomplish your purposes, faster and more effectively than you can do it yourself.

If you really want to write your own copy, though, you could take a leaf from Wikipedia’s Manual of Style. Where Wikipedia’s style manual differs from the one you’ve had on your shelf since college, it’s often a good SEO move.

Here are some examples:

  • “If possible, an article title is the subject of the first sentence of the article… If the article title is an important term, it appears as early as possible.”

When you type a word or phrase into the search box at Google or Yahoo, the search engine looks for pages that start out with that word or phrase. Whenever possible, use your keywords right at the beginning of your page.

  • “It is not useful and can be very distracting to mark all possible words as hyperlinks. Links should add to the user’s experience; they should not detract from it by making the article harder to read. A high density of links can draw attention away from the high-value links that you would like your readers to follow up.”

While you generally want as many links as possible coming into your page, outgoing links from your page need to fulfill a specific purpose. Wikipedia’s point about the effect on human readers is very important; it’s also true that search engines will decide that your page is less important than the ones you link to if you use links out to do the job your own page ought to be doing.

  • “Using color alone to convey information should not be done. Such information is not accessible to people with color blindness, on black-and-white printouts, on older computer displays with fewer colors, on monochrome displays (PDAs, cell phones), and so on.”

The manual happens to be talking about color here, but this is just one of the many places where they make an important point: think about your reader’s experience. Usability is one of the essential factors in designing your web site, and that includes the text.

We’ve looked at examples that have to do only with online writing; most of the rest of the Wikipedia style manual is similar to the paper style manuals on your bookshelf. Is that less important for optimizing your site for search? No. Google considers pages with writing errors – poor spelling, punctuation faults, bad grammar – less trustworthy than well-written pages. So will your human visitors. Even when you write your own content, you should consider having it edited and polished up by a professional.

Sharp Hue can assist you with all aspects of your web design, from concept to content. Call us to schedule a demonstration of our new product called Visual Cart, an e-commerce system built around writing good content that is friendly to both search engines and people.