The elements of good web writing can be difficult to get your head around if you're used to writing for offline formats. Likewise, if you've never been big on writing at all, learning the ins and outs of web content development can be a difficult adjustment.
This quick guide to web content development should help make the transition to online writing easier. This page focuses mostly on the "human reader" side of writing web site content, rather than the search engine optimization side of things. Remember - the human reader experience always takes precedence over search engine optimizing.
Throw away your dictionary. Well, that may be a little drastic - but the point is, trying to use complex language to sound more knowledgeable will only hurt you on the web. Instead, write how you talk - write in a way a ten-year-old kid could understand.
There are some exceptions to this - for example, this website is mainly a business-to-business site, so you may find a few technical words dotted around. This is because people who run their own businesses have a whole lingo of their own, and also tend to be of above-average intelligence.
But in most cases these terms are defined and explained anyway, for the sake of readers who are new to business or just curious.
Likewise, when it comes to web content development, try to keep your ideas simple and succinct. You're not writing a doctoral thesis - you're just conveying some useful information in a way that is as easy to understand as possible.
This applies not just to word choice and ideas, but also to sentence structure. If you can make a sentence shorter, do it. Too many long sentences has the same effect as too many big words. Readers lose concentration - and you lose readers. Less is more.
No matter how good your web writing skills are, they're worth nothing if you don't have useful, valuable information to contribute to the World Wide Web. If you're trying to make money from websites, you generally have to provide your visitors with something useful before they will buy anything from you.
That's how it works - you give a little, and some of those visitors will give in return. But remember, no one buys from sites with cheap, useless content.
Also, don't be afraid to let a little personality come through in your writing. It makes you more likeable, and people prefer to buy from someone they like. Again, you're not writing a doctoral thesis - you're having a one-on-one conversation with someone who wants to learn what you know about your topic. Don't be boring.
Reading from a computer screen is hard on the eyes. That's why people tend to scan when they read online. You need to recognize that and roll with it, breaking up your writing with headlines and bold copy to highlight important points. Bullet point lists are also handy where appropriate, but don't go overboard - some readers want substance.
Your pages should be written so that there's plenty of substance, but also plenty of signposts for those who want to soak up the page at a glance.
Links are essential to the way visitors navigate your site. It's useful to include text links within a page where relevant - but again, don't overdo it. Also, make sure the link text itself (also known as anchor text) is relevant to the keywords on the page it leads to, rather than something like "click here" or "Home."
Struggling to get your head around what makes good web writing, or simply running short of time to do it yourself? Contact Us to arrange hiring a web content writer to help you out.
Author: Tom McSherry
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