Your website is one of the first places people will look for information about your government department or agency. It represents who you are, what you value and gives insight into what you can offer to your audience.
We have conducted a range of website and content reviews for clients to give their website content a refresh, read about the projects here. Here are our ten best practice steps we use to ensure content is timely, relevant and in line with audience needs.
Run a content audit
A content audit provides an in-depth look at the performance of all current content on your site and identifies incorrect, out of date and irrelevant information. It also considers your web analytics to help you determine which pieces of content perform best and how to prioritise pages for a rewrite.
Find your tone of voice
Having a solid tone of voice creates the foundation for your content. It helps you define the way you communicate, gives your writing clear direction and keeps your content consistent. Writing without one can lead to sloppy content that your audience may find it hard to read or engage with.
Build your audience personas
Knowing your audience is a key part of creating engaging content that readers can connect to. Building personas is a great way to help you establish realistic representations of your audience segments by defining their personality traits, attitudes and values. A good persona is one that you can almost visualise as someone you know, so make them as realistic as possible.
Put your audience first
Before writing, it’s important to consider how your content is structured on the page. Always start with the most important information at the top because this is what your audience is most likely looking for. If you have large amounts of content on the page, use headings or drop-down options to help your audience grasp the structure of information.
Define your writing style
The way you write your content is important for engaging audiences and helping them understand what you are trying to say. In most cases, it’s better to use the active voice over the passive voice whenever possible. For example, the dog bit the man vs the man was bitten by the dog. An active voice makes your writing direct and punchy and helps your sentences flow. Using a passive voice can lead to vague and confusing writing that loses reader engagement.
Make it simple and clear
When writing engaging web copy, simplicity is your friend. While you might be familiar with certain industry jargon, your audience may not be. Aim for a reading age of nine to ensure your content is readable by people with varying levels of education or those who may not speak English well.
Keep it short
People’s attention spans online are short, so get straight to the point. Keep your sentences to 20 words or less and break up your paragraphs. Don’t be scared to let single sentences fly solo either — less is more.
Optimise your SEO
SEO optimisation is one of the best ways to get your content seen by people but it’s important to keep it natural. Rather than coming back to add keywords, include them in your content as you write. Successful SEO only happens when you write concise, authentic and user-focused content.
Add relevant links
Linking to other pages on your website helps boost SEO, provides useful information to your audience and can increase page views. However, it’s important to place your links carefully. Embed them into paragraphs to improve readability, instead of grouping them together at the bottom of the page. Also remove any meaningless terms, such as ‘click here’, ‘read more’ or ‘useful links’, as this disrupts the flow of your writing.
Edit, and then edit some more
Editing is crucial to the quality and consistency of your content. Ideally, you should have a separate content writer and content editor to allow the content to be looked over with fresh eyes. Ensure every page is consistent with your tone of voice and writing style and check that it is engaging and relatable to your audience.
And there you have it. Implement this ultimate ten-step content creation checklist and you are well on your way to delivering meaningful government communication, with real impact. If you want to take a step further and develop a strategy for the created content, look at our blog on building a communication strategy from scratch.
If you need any advice on your content plan and communication strategy, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the strategists will get in touch with you.