What is the difference between writing for the web and writing for print?
When you write for the web, versus writing for print, you must make your point or answer your visitor’s question as quickly as possible. You will basically work the opposite way you would when writing for print. Instead of building up to the main point as you would when writing for print, when writing for the web you make the point first and then provide the details and support content.
There is one additional component you must consider when writing for the web; SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is an ever-growing and changing field and having a knowledgeable web developer on staff, such as Dapper Web Designs, will help make your site easily found by those searching for what you have to offer.
How to write web content
Researching and writing web content
You must capture your visitor’s attention early and quickly
There are many visitors to your site who do not read your full content; they skim or scan over the material to try and find what they came for. And since we know this, why not enhance your content to make it easier for visitors to find that information:
- Focus on what the title of your article will be or what the page title will be. Keep it short, to the point and use keywords when possible. Longer page titles may not fully display in search engines so keep the title under 10 words at the maximum, when possible.
- Use bulleted lists for making points and numbered lists when giving instructions or providing content that is in a consecutive format.
- Use links to highlight facts, sources, definitions and to point to other pages in your site when appropriate. An example is if you are writing about a product you sell. You would link the text name of the product to the page on your site where your visitors can purchase the product.
- Keep content in small chunks with sub-headings that contain keywords as to what the site page or post will contain.
- Use images to help support the content but never in place of the content. Infographics, where appropriate, are very useful ways to display data, knowledge and other informational content.
- Use interesting facts to help support your ideas or conclusions and be sure you add source links if you use outside sources.
You should think about your visitors and use keywords to help drive organic search and visitors
Before you write your blog post or page content, think about your visitors, your site layout, search keywords/phrases and answers to some questions:
- Will the content you are writing answer a question that a visitor is looking for?
- Will your site provide visitors with a great experience and easily lead them to what you want them to do next (a call to action)?
- Do you know who your likely visitors are and what they want from you and your page or article?
- Do you even know what you want your visitors to do when they get to your page? Aside from reading your content, what else do you want from them? A comment, review, fill out a form, make a purchase, request a quote, etc.
- You want to think ahead and research keywords and key phrases that others are using to find the type of content you plan to write. This will give you an idea of what types of key phrases you may want to include in your title and content to help search engines find it and place/rank it well.
Now, start writing for the web
When writing your web content, try using effective “web writing” techniques:
- You must get to the point as early as possible when you write for the web.
- You can use fragments in web writing but only do so when necessary and where they make sense.
- The shorter the content the better in many cases. The standard is to have at least 300 words. As a large number of people skim content, keep it short and remove words or even paragraphs that can be removed.
- Try to avoid industry jargon and use words that most people can understand. If jargon is necessary, use links to definitions so your visitors do not have to search for the meaning.
- You will want to write in small chunks with clear headings and subheadings and use bullet lists to make points.
- You should write to your visitor and not at them – Use the first person, as if you are talking to your visitors. Keep the “person” consistent throughout the writing. (If this is a professional journal writing you may not want to write this way. You have to choose what is best for your business).
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread – Avoid spelling errors and basic grammatical errors. By doing so you appear more professional. A great tool that can help is Grammarly.
- You should create clear, precise call to actions guiding your visitors to what you want them to do; whether it is a purchase, a newsletter sign-up, a contact form/quote form submission, or another goal you have for your visitor.
- You should try and write one idea or point per paragraph. In web writing, a paragraph can be one sentence.
- You want to first write for your audience, clients, and visitors, and second for Search Engines.
The content you write should answer the visitor’s question upfront, early, and in full. This is the way to keep users coming back to you for more content with answers or at least a way for them to come to a conclusion.
Think of Search Engines and how to optimize your content:
You have written for your clients and visitors, now review to see if you have used effective key components for search engine optimization:
- Did you use a good title that could stand on its own? For example, if found in search results does the title clearly state what the page or article is about?
- Did you use relevant keywords to your site and your content in the piece you wrote? If not, go back and edit.
- Did you focus on benefits of the topic or service you are writing about? If not, assess whether this would help your visitors and search engines.
- Is the content you wrote unique? Search engines focus on and love unique content.
- Did you look at the content from a visitor’s perspective? If so, did your article answer the questions that they would likely have?
- When you look at the content you have written, do you think it is clear what you are asking your visitor to do next? (Examples: Ask for them to share the piece, write a review, purchase an item, sign up for a newsletter) If not, you may want to edit and create a call to action that specifies what you would like them to do.
- You should always think about having someone else review your content to see if it makes sense to them and to assess for grammatical errors and misspellings.
Next, you will want to think about Social Media, Social Sharing & potential article submissions
You have, by now, written your article or page content. Now publish it to your site and be proud! Next, you need to think about how to help others find your content, making it easy to share with others and consider publishing to one of many public article submission sites.
- Use the power of social media platforms such as Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and others to share what you have written. This will also allow others to share your content with their friends.
- Does your site have sharing buttons to make it easy for visitors who read your content to share it on their social networks? If not, contact your web developer and request this feature.
- Do you think your article would qualify as an authoritative view on a subject or topic? You may consider publishing it to e-zine sites for more exposure. These are public article submission sites where you sign up and post on specific topics.
Most people coming to the web to find answers are in a hurry and simply will not read every single word you write. This is why it is important for you to create compelling, unique content that serves both your site visitors and search engines while answering potential questions visitors would have in your writing.
With Google’s new algorithm update titled “Hummingbird,” well-written content aligned with employing a great site design that directs visitors in a clear and easy fashion is one of the most important factors going forward. Always put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and try to answer questions you think your visitors have when writing for the web.
While writing for the web is not extremely difficult, it does take practice and, to some degree, research. Research keywords and key phrases to find what you may need to include and research your competitor’s keywords as well. Research latest trends to write about if you need ideas or write about your own website. There is an abundance of content on the web so you need to try and stand out. Practice will help.
There is always another option; you could hire a professional web content writer. If you do not feel you can meet the requirements or do not have the time, there are plenty of “for hire” content writers and companies out there. We personally have never used any of these services so we cannot provide you with one particular person or company but we do know about a site Fivver.com.
We hope that by following our tips on writing for the web you will be compelled to start writing and even rewriting your content for better search engine placement and a better overall visitor experience. Ultimately, this is what it’s all about.