1. Know your reader
The problem: Blogs and web writing are often viewed as personal forums, but be careful not to write for your ego or yourself. With search engines, anyone can find anything on the web these days. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to write for everyone.
- All good writing, whether it’s online or in print, has a reader in mind and tries to engage or interest them.
- Think about your reader – who are you trying to target with your writing, and what does he or she like?
- Tone and style are as important as content – make sure you aim this at your reader, too.
2. Keep it short
The problem: Studies have shown that the average internet user only spends 4 seconds on a web page. Faced with a huge amount of text in one big paragraph, it’s impossible for the user to pick out the relevant information. In fact, just the style of lots of text will instantly encourage them to click away and bounce to another website.
- Make your website more engaging with short, concise sentences that readers can easily scan and understand.
- Think about word or character limits. Twitter only allows 140 characters – imagine you also only have this much space to state your objective or meaning.
- Use these word limits as guidelines to help focus you on short, simple writing:
Headings: 8 words or less
Sentences: 15-20 words
Paragraphs: 40-70 words
Articles/pages: 500 words or less
3. Know your objective
The problem: Blogs have almost unlimited space and it’s easy to get sucked into the mindset of being able to meander slowly through your story and use the web as a platform to be creative – which often comes across as rambling. Long feature stories can be browsed in magazines and print newspapers, but they don’t belong on the web.
- Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve with each section of text you write. Once you know what your objective is, it’ll be easier to articulate to your readers.
- Remember how little time average internet users visit each page – and how important it is to get to the point!
- Always re-read before you post and try to cut out text that doesn’t fit the objective.
4. Break up the text
The problem: Web pages with just writing are boring. They might be easy to make and hold all the information you want, but they’re boring. Sorry.
- Break up long streams of text into short, bite-sized sections or bullet points.
- Use high resolution images to create interest – but make sure they’re relevant to the text and not random!
- Adds headings, graphs, diagrams, links to other websites. This will all put your writing into context and make it instantly more engaging.
5. Write good metadata
The problem: With so much information floating about the web, the search engines need to know what’s in your article. Metadata is what gives your writing a context and a direction. Without it, you won’t come up on relevant searches or been seen by the right readers – and you might as well not have written anything at all.
- Always write a meta title and description for every page – you can do this easily on WordPress with the All in One SEO Pack.
- Metadata should precisely describe what’s on the page. Don’t make it fancy, make it relevant.
- Headings within your writing are also used to classify it, so keep these relevant and interesting too.
Image: Thanks to Alan Levine on Flickr.com
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