How to Write For the Web

Website or blog owners are constantly looking for the best techniques on how to write for the web. In the blogging revolution, more and more people are becoming virtual journalists and web writers whose online content reaches millions of readers in a matter of seconds. Writing for the web has its peculiarities and rules that must be followed in order to run a successful, highly ranked and visited website. While there are thousands of resources on how to write for the web, the info in most of these resources is very wordy and takes a long time to digest. This blog post will list the top essential recommendations and web-writing techniques that can help one become a superb writer by delivering concise and SEO friendly web copy.

Research findings show the following facts about user web copy preferences:

  • Simple and informal writing is preferred
  • Users want to get information quickly
  • Users like concise text
  • Users prefer scannable text (headings, bullets, graphics, etc)
  • Users like humor (where appropriate ‚Ai blogs, social media, etc)

Percentage of text read on the pageSource: www.useit.com

While it is important to consider your audience for your writing (whether you are writing for corporate site or kids site or a blog), there are certain web writing tips that relate to all web audiences:

  • Try limiting each block of text / paragraph to 5 lines maximum
  • Each paragraph should be self contained
  • Engage users by using sentences with WHY? WHEN? WHAT?
  • Use bullet points, headings and subheadings
  • Select good graphics to complement your text
  • Use "call for action" verbs (Register Now, Donate to Charity...)
  • Conclusion first, then details

If you write for the blog, you can stick to the following recommendations:

  • Involve reader in a conversation
  • Be personal
  • Do not simply write the news ‚Ai ask questions, recommend, etc.
  • Tell stories. Make them real by locating them in space and time
  • Post titles and links must be meaningful / SEO
  • Link to past pieces in your blog
  • Use tags to categorise posts (helps with SEO)
  • Blog regularly

Some of the most common web writing errors that push visitors to leave your site fall in the following areas:

  • Writing is too long
  • Writing is not relevant to the web page / website
  • Writing piece lacks a summary
  • Writing piece has inconsistency of language, style and tone
  • Writing has typos/punctuation and grammar errors
  • Writing uses over-the-top humor
  • Writing piece has excessive use of exclamation marks!!!

While it is important to consider your readers when you write for the web, it is also critical to make sure that your web copy is SEO friendly. To do that, you should:

  • Focus on selected keywords
  • Use descriptive titles / headlines
  • Utilize first 100 words on the page to your advantage by having relevant keywords
  • For keywords, use headings (h1, h2, h3), bold and italic formatting styles
  • Use lists or bullet points
  • Use keyword-rich anchor text in links
  • Use less outbound links
  • Link pages within your site using relevant anchor text for the links
  • Beware of keyword stuffing
  • Use images with keyword-rich descriptions/captions and alt tags
  • If a new page, try to have at least 500 words of text
  • Don't be afraid of experimenting with keywords ‚Ai find your niche
  • Use key phrases rather than keywords
  • Keep it short! Focus on your subject matter!

Visitor heat map shows which areas of a web page get the most attentionSource: http://styleguide.yahoo.com/

Oleksiy is the Founder of ArtDriver. He oftentimes takes the lead as the Agile Project Manager and SEO expert on selected projects, which allows him to be hands-on with the latest trends. In his spare time, Oleksiy enjoys playing the guitar and spending time with his family.