Writing for the Web is different than writing for print, mainly because people read differently on the Web: they scan text looking to pick out information rather than reading your article or text word-for-word. Here are eight simple guidelines for making your online text content “scannable” – and more readable:
1. Start with your conclusion: This is called the "inverted pyramid" writing style. Most people will only read the first paragraph of an article anyway.
2. Keep it short: Most web articles are 600-800 words. Keep the most important information "above the scroll" since most readers do not read to the end of the article.
3. Use headings, subheadings and highlighted keywords to make your text easy to scan.
4. Keep the article to a specific topic: Cut any sentence that doesn't directly relate to your point. Develop one idea per paragraph.
5. Limit anecdotes and examples to one per topic: Again, most people won't finish the article anyway, so cut the fluff.
6. Use lists and bullet points: Help your readers find the information they are looking for.
7. Use hyperlinks. Links to other sites and source material increases your credibility: You've done your homework! And you can keep your articles shorter if you provide external links to background information.
8. Don't rely on adjectives and adverbs for punch: Say "dashed" rather than "ran very quickly" or "finish" for "successfully complete."
Remembering the way readers use the Web will help you write effectively, and get you noticed!
Why Should You Care?
Editor’s Note: This is the shortest article that I’ve ever run – perhaps only half as long as the next shortest – but it touches on a topic that is of increasing importance: successful writing for the Web. The reasons why you should understand how to successfully write for an online audience are two-fold, but they boil down to this – traffic, and money. Here’s how to get it; and why being able to write effectively is important:
• You need surfers to join your site: Surfer traffic is becoming ever more elusive, yet one of the best sources today is one of the oldest: search engines. This makes high visibility in the search engine rankings vital; and if you do not have the budget to pay for position, then you must be better at your competition in gaining it the old fashioned way – and I don’t mean “by cheating.” I mean by having legitimate, content-rich pages that will be highly ranked by the SE’s. The way to do this is by having adequate text, rather than relying on pretty pictures which the search engine spiders cannot read. This text must be short, sweet, and to the point if you wish to make sales, and keyword rich if you wish to be seen in the listings. Following the above guidelines will help.
• You need Webmaster traffic: Perhaps surfers are secondary to your operation, and what you really need is to attract the attention of Webmasters, but once again lack the budget for top banner placement, full page print ads, and trade show exhibits. Well, then, one option is still open to you – write articles for a quality resource such as XBiz! We’re always looking for fresh articles on any topic of importance to Webmasters, and savvy marketers understand the power of reaching their audience through “helpful interaction” rather than simple “paid advertising.” In this case, the above tips will help “non writers” develop quality articles with impact – articles that will continue to bring in new business for years to come!
If you follow the above advice, you will be able to increase your sales and gain a broader reach for your business, simply through the effective use of the written word. Want to try your writing skills here at XBiz? Simply drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – and good luck! ~ Stephen