on July 4th, 2011
While writing is not for everyone, if you love it and you are good at it, you can easily attract thousands of visitors to your website or blog and keep them coming back for more. Choosing your topics wisely, writing with the user in mind, and adding top quality content regularly is likely to earn you a good spot on the search engines too and help you market your products or services. Regardless of your reasons, writing for the web has its own specifics, which you should always consider before pouring out your thoughts:
1. Write for your audience
When writing an advanced Java tutorial, your audience most likely consists of experienced programmers, who would have no difficulties understanding all technical terms and programming jargon. However, if you have to write an introduction to Java, then you would want to keep it simple and use text, which should be easily read by anyone.
2. Write a catchy and to-the-point title.
Your title should draw the reader in and considering that the search engines are likely to display only your title in their listings, you should come up with a title, which is certain to grab the readers’ attention. The titles and the headlines should be relatively short (Google seems to pay attention to the first 60 characters) and you should avoid using wordplay, puns, or metaphors in them.
3. Avoid long introductions
The average Internet user has very short attention span and unless you get to the point quickly, he or she is likely to click the back button on their browsers and move on to the next site.
4. Avoid using very long sentences or paragraphs.
If you write a sentence with three or more commas, then you should try breaking it down or rewriting it in a way, which reads better. While not a rule set in stone, a paragraph should have three to five sentences, and it should be just long enough to demonstrate a key point.
5. Use a spell checker
Even when writing for your personal blog, use a spell checker and write correctly. While in many instances using jargon or having a spelling mistake here and there might be acceptable, when writing for the web, using a spell checker and proofreading your text goes a long way.
6. Do not start your sentences with “And,” “Yet,” or “But.”
Use “however,” “In addition,” and “On the other hand” instead – this is a common mistake, which even experienced writers make and it can easily put off many readers.
7. Use “also” only when needed.
Dropping “also” in every other sentence is not likely to go unnoticed and is a sign of poor writing style.
8. Text formatting
As most web users always scan the text before reading it, you should format your writings in a way, which makes it easier for the reader to find easily exactly what they are looking for. Use lists, bold headers, and block quotes to break your text into sizable chunks.
9. Use hyperlinks
Hyperlinks make your web page interactive and allow users to navigate it and find what they are searching for easily. You should use anchor text instead of bare links and using a keyword in the anchor text could help the search engines spider your website easily; do not shy away from using external links as both the readers and the search engines seem to like them.
10. Do not add fluff
Keep your texts to the point and avoid inflating the word count by adding fluff.
11. Avoid using passive voice
While not always incorrect, using passive voice often sounds vague and awkward. Active voice results in strong, concise, and easy to read sentences.
12. Use the appropriate keywords
While writing for your reader comes first, you need to make sure that they can actually find your article, blog, or website. In order for this to happen, you need to optimize the text around for particular keyword and once you have identified the most appropriate keyword, you should include it naturally in your text. You should include a few supporting keywords and key phrases too as this would help the search engines rank your webpage higher. On the other hand, cramming your text with keywords will put your readers off and is likely to be caught by the search engines as well.
13. Use videos and photos
Using photos and videos when appropriate can help you keep your readers engaged. Adding a single photo to your Spaghetti Carbonara recipe or including a video in your Photoshop tutorial text is likely to motivate the reader to stay on the page and read your article from start to finish.
14. Avoid using “sales language”
If you load just about any sales page, often you would have to go through a few hundred words before you even understand what the product is. Using call for action could help you increase your conversions and sell products or services, but adding hundreds of words that say nothing is likely to chase your visitors away.
15. Write in a text editor and not directly in your browser
All good text editors come with built-in spell and grammar checkers, which will catch your mistakes as you type. In addition, most text editors offer larger work area than the content management systems editors, allowing you to have most of the text in front of you, format it easily, and spot any irregularities or areas that need improvement.
16. Write a series of articles
When used occasionally and appropriately, this will give your readers good reason to come back to your site. This is especially appropriate when writing tutorials, discussing a broad topic, or following a developing story.
17. Publish, check, and follow up
Once you publish your text, take the time to proofread it one more time, make sure that all links are working, and that the text is properly formatted. If there is a new development in the story or the topic that you have written on, then write and publish an update.