Writing for websites is very different than writing for print publications, and to be an effective writer for web content, you need to know the differences and learn to embrace them.
If the only writing you have ever done was for print publications or your own blog, learning to write web copy and web content means you almost have to learn the rules of writing all over again. There are 3 tips that will improve your writing effective web content.
1. Reader's Attention! -
According to various internet research studies, you have about 3-5 seconds to catch your reader's attention, and about 12 seconds of writing to keep it. The average computer user will not spend more than 7-12 minutes maximum on your website or your article, so you have a very small window in which to grab the reader's attention, focus that attention on your article, and then keep that attention to the end.
We were taught in school to use a thesis paragraph and sentence for our introduction to our writing, but with web content and web copy, this may not necessarily be the best way to go. Of course, you do want to tell the reader what your article is about, but the first part of your article really needs to be something that will grab the reader's attention in those first 3-5 seconds and make them read further.
Therefore, when writing web copy, you want to move your actual thesis sentence or paragraph down the page to about the second or third paragraph and save your introduction for something that will really hook your reader.
After that, you want to keep the article short. If you don't feel a short article will convey all the information you need to the reader, then consider writing a series of articles, or simply write more than one article on the topic at hand and have different points in each article. If the article cannot be read through in less than 7 minutes (and preferably less than 5), then you need to break it up into more than one article.
2. Keywords and Search Engine Optimization -
When we were taught to write in school, repetition was a bad thing. We were told to find new and creative ways to say the same thing differently. Instead of repeating the same phrases over and over again, we were taught to use different adjectives and nouns to draw our word pictures and keep the writing from being stale.
With web content and web copy, the exact opposite is true. Repetition is better. You need keywords for your article that will be scanned and picked up by search engines and directories, and those need to be 'optimized', or in other words, you need to have as many instances of them in your copy as you can without it being overkill.
Yes, this will make your writing read a bit choppy and it won't be quite as 'creative' as if you had written without search engine optimization, but the only way people are going to find your articles and content is if the search engines can properly index your articles for the keywords people would enter if they were searching for your topic.
Yes, this means you will sound repetitive, and unfortunately, you'll just have to get used to it for writing web copy and web content.
3. Capitalization and Formatting -
We have long been told that in professional writing, you are to use bold and/or italics for emphasis and to never capitalize an entire word in order to emphasize it. Well, this isn't necessarily true for web content and web copy. Bold and italics do mean different things to some search engines and directories, and depending on how the browser renders your text or how the text editor works, bold and italics are difficult for readers to see.
Because of this, it is SOMETIMES acceptable to use all capital letters to emphasize a word when writing web copy, even though you would probably never do this in a professional print publication writing. The key here is to use it very sparingly, and only when that emphasis is absolutely necessary for the writing.
These were just 3 tips, read our next article to know other tips for Writing Effective Web Content.