At this point in time, I do not think there is a bigger phrase in public relations than “social media.” The phrase is everywhere. It’s hard for anyone in marketing/communications to go to any event or session without hearing someone talking about how social media is going to revolutionize life as we know it.
I don’t know about that—time will have to tell us if the social media bubble is going to burst. But I do know this: online content is still king.
Social media is about sharing information, namely links to published online content. A 2011 study from AOL and Nielsen Online showed that 60 percent of all social media shares were links to published content.
What does this mean? It means that as communication professionals, we need to ensure that our business websites are updated and free of grammatical errors.
We also need to make sure that our sites are easy to navigate, which makes it easier for visitors to find the information that they need when they get to our web pages.
Here are the top 10 tips for online content editing:
1. Scan time-sensitive pages. Look to pages that are constantly updated first, such as your business’s “Events” or “News” pages. You can skip this step by avoiding use of the phrases “today,” “this year,” “now,” etc. on your website (unless, of course, you use those terms on a time-stamped press release. Since the date is on the release, website visitors will know that the release is outdated).
2. When writing content for the web, always place the important message at the top of the page. Most Internet visitors are furious page-scanners—they don’t have time to search through your page for information when they can get it elsewhere.
3. Use fewer words and embrace white space. Large paragraphs should not be on the Web. Instead, try to space your content out so that it’s easier for visitors to scan the page.
4. Search the website to test its functionality. How easy is it for users to find a particular webpage? If website users have problems finding information on your website, you might want to consider rearranging the information architecture of your website.
5. Make your headers short. Keep your web page headers between 1-2 words.
6. Use only a few headers. Five to nine headers works best. Also, make sure that your webpage headers fit on one page.
I saw one website the other day that had over 20 headers. While the header design was unique and looked great aesthetically, I could not find the information that I needed. The website did not have a search function, so I ended up using Google to find information on the website. That’s bad. Keep your headers short and your visitors will appreciate it.
7. Summarize all documents that are posted on your website. Doing so makes sure that your website users know what they are downloading.
8. Ensure that your website is accessible for users with disabilities. An Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant website should include an “alt” tag in the HTML code with a brief description of the image.
9. Remember SEO. To make sure that search engines pick up on the content of your website, be sure to include relative content on the webpage, and if you are using a CMS, enter in all relevant buzz words.
This means that it is not okay to post an event flyer or video on your website without a description—search engines will not pick this information up. It’s also tough for some mobile devices to download a webpage that only has an image.
10. Check all links. If you have had your website for a long time, this is a daunting task, but it must be done eventually. You have to make sure that all of your web pages take users to the right place, or your credibility can be lost.
Did I miss anything? Share a tip below: