According to WorldWideWebSize.com, there are 4.48 billion pages floating out there on the internet. That’s a lot of competition for online attention. How are you getting noticed?

Content is often an afterthought when businesses redesign or launch a new website, but in an increasingly busy digital world, it’s still the differentiator.

Online content can be a powerful and persuasive tool. Through Search Engine Optimization (SEO), relevant content drives people to your website by helping it show up when consumers are looking for the product or service you offer. By making your content as persuasive as possible without being pushy, you can increase the chances that a web visitor will take a desired action.

Without visitors who take action, your website is just a pretty face.

Here are four helpful guidelines to writing engaging online content.

Get to the Point Quickly

You have just seconds to convince someone to continue reading. Make sure your headline is effective and descriptive. Talk about the benefits people will gain from continuing to read your content. If you can’t quickly show why it’s worth their while to read on, they won’t.

Once you are into the body of the content, make it scannable by using:

  • subheads
  • bullet points
  • short paragraphs
  • shorter sentences

By expressing yourself as succinctly as possible, you can increase the chances your content will be effective. If not? There are 4.48 billion other pages for people to read.

Show, Don’t Tell

It’s a basic rule of effective writing: wherever you can, show, don’t tell. In other words, show proof, or no one will buy into your facts.

Your readers don’t know who you are. They have no reason to believe that your energy drink will make them more productive or that your marketing automation software will help them increase their sales just because you say so.

So, show them. Share stories of happy and satisfied customers who got great results. Give them statistics that show exactly how much time or money your product saves. Empty superlatives (great, excellent, life-changing, etc.) do not tell people what they need to know.

Sell the Benefits

When you are thinking about what to put on your landing page or in a blog post, forget your own interests. So what if you’ve added a new widget to the whatchimacallit? What does it do? How does it change your customer’s experience?

The most important thing to remember when you are attempting to persuade someone is that it’s not about you. It is about the customers’ wants and needs. Everything should revolve around what your product or service means to them. The Community College System of New Hampshire shares student success stories on its blog to show the benefits of going to community college in New Hampshire.

Don’t forget a Call to Action

No matter how persuasive your content is, your visitor won’t automatically know what you want them to do next. Do they need to request more information or start a free trial? Give them a clear path.

Calls-to-action (CTAs) should be included on any web page as hyperlinks or general contact forms, but they are essential for landing pages, where the CTA should be the only action available to the visitor.

Be sure to make your CTA prominent, and consider the language you use. For example, start my free trial might have a bigger impact than start free trial.

You may have a great product or service, and you may even have a beautiful website, but if you don’t have effective content, you are probably not reaching as much of your audience as possible.