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Writing for the Web

The web is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Virtually anything that you could ever possibly want to know right there at your fingertips. Why is the ocean blue? What’s the fastest route from here to D.C.? When did the first man land on the moon? What in the world is quinoa? All of the answers to these questions lie before us in the vast infinite realm that is the internet. What’s more amazing, is all the content that lives here, was written by someone. Someone out there put their fingers to keys and typed every little word, put them there for you to read. Special right? But the trick is, they had to write it in a way that would engage you. They knew you could pick any page out there and read someone else’s words. But yet, there you are. Reading their content. How did they do that?

Chances are, you didn’t read every word in the paragraph above. Did you? You didn’t? That’s ok. Studies show that’s perfectly normal! Your eyes are probably drawn to the headings and lists below. ‘What are you going to tell me?’ you’re wondering. ‘Just get to the point!’

Web writing can be tough because it’s so different from any other kind of writing. In fact, even the way people read online is different. Only 20 percent of people actually read every word on the page. Instead, we scan. We read web pages in what is called the F pattern. Our eyes scan across the page, usually starting at the top. Then our eyes trail down the page, across again, and then down again forming the F. Of course, this isn’t always true, but generally, this is the pattern online readers will take.

So what can you do to make your web writing better? Remember, you only have a few seconds to catch your reader’s attention so keep these tips in mind when writing your content.

First Things, First: Who’s Your Audience?

Before you begin writing anything, you need to determine who your audience is. Who are you writing to, and what do you want them to know? Figuring this out first will help give you an idea of what you want to say, and set the tone for your text.

Keep it Simple

Make your words count! Remember, readers are scanning your page. They’re looking for keywords or things that pop out at them. Try keeping your sentences to less than 20 words, and use no more than 6 sentences in a paragraph. Keep your writing short and to the point. Use simple sentences and avoid jargon and acronyms. They can confuse people and you could lose their attention.

Get to the Point

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard of the inverted pyramid. The idea is to give your reader the most important information first, usually within the first paragraph. The following sentences or paragraphs give the reader the next important information in order, until the very end where the least important, or fluff, points will be made. Giving them what they are here for at the front of your text is helpful to a reader who is scanning your website, and could encourage them to read more of your content on other pages of your site.

Break it Up

You’re not writing a novel. Break things up into sections that are easy for your readers to jump in, pick up the information they need, and be on their way. Use headings that make sense, remember these keywords will draw the reader into your text.

When Possible, Incorporate Visuals

Images, figures, or even lists are engaging and can sometimes even give your reader more than a block of text can. Often times, these visual elements are the first thing that visitors notice on your page; they have the power to draw your visitor in, or push them away. Use images that enhance the written content, this makes your text more interesting.

Get Rewarded

We want to make sure our writing is benefiting our readers, sure, but there are perks for you too! Good web writing and use of keywords at the beginning of the page (think of that Inverted Pyramid!) the better the page will rank for those keywords in search engines. Things like HTML titles and header tags (think Break it Up!) help get your page higher ranking as well. And better search engine rankings mean better chances of visitors coming to your websites and reading…er, scanning, what you have to say. Happy writing!

If you would like to learn more about internet marketing or would like some marketing advice, contact us at 5ive Fold.