Sunday, July 17, 2016

10 Tips for Web Writing

By Jodie Cain Smith

For novelists, making the transition from story creation to web content can be tricky. Fiction writing requires the author to paint descriptive pictures, create rich characters full of complex and perhaps contradictory traits, and even hide true meaning until the delicious last page. Web writing should never be that convoluted. Web writing must be scannable, concise, front-loaded, and on point.

If your blog posts are receiving no traffic and lack of marketing is not the problem, perhaps your content requires an overhaul.

Start with these basics of web writing.

·        Write clear, simple, and effective content. The content should be easily read. You are not writing for PhD candidates.
·         Front-load your text. Put the most important content in the first paragraph, so that readers scanning your pages will not miss your main idea.
·         Chunk your content. Cover only one topic per paragraph.
·         Be concise. Write short paragraphs and minimize unnecessary words.
·         Write in active voice instead of passive voice.
·         Choose lists over paragraphs. When possible use lists rather than paragraphs to make your content easier to scan.
Also, consider these 10 tips:

1. Write for your desired audience. Consider who will be reading and using your web content. What are they looking for and how will they use the content.

2. Keep sentences short. Remove words or descriptions that don’t add value to the content.

3.  Make content scannable. Readers scan web pages before they read. If they don’t recognize useful, relevant content immediately, they move on.

4.  Choose words for headers and sub-headers that clearly describe the content they introduce. Boring, useful words are better than clever, obtuse words.

5.  Limit paragraphs to 70 words. This will allow a shorter read-time (most blogs shoot for a read time of 2-3 minutes). Less is better.

6.  Use bulleted lists whenever possible. Bulleted lists are easier to scan and read than full paragraphs.

7.  Use active voice. Strunk and White said it best: "The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive" (The Elements of Style, Third Edition).

8.  Be precise. Avoid vague words or phrases such as “There are…” and “It’s going to” and “in order to.” Good web writing leaves the audience with perfect understanding. "When a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus, brevity is a by-product of vigor” (Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, Third Edition).

9.  To be found online, use common language. It’s essential for SEO (search engine optimization) to use the same words and phrases your readers do. When creating page titles, headers, list items and links, choose keywords carefully. Additionally, be sure to use keywords consistently when creating web content. When used appropriately, this practice reinforces keyword relevancy for search engines, such as Google and your own internal search, thereby improving findability.

10.  Lastly, write on topic. If you want your blog to be a resource on squirrel hunting, then all posts must be on the topic of squirrel hunting without leading the reader down a weird tangent regarding landscape painting. Web-readers don’t like weird tangents.  

1 comment:

Just Julia said...

I enjoyed this! Lots of good advice ma'am!