The golden rule for successful web writing is to write for your target audience. Trouble is, with the web you also have to write in a way so people will find what you’ve actually got to say in the first place. Only then can you focus on getting them to read once they’ve got there.
Writing to be Found
Getting people to your website isn’t always easy.
- physically give them your web address, say on a business card or flyer
- put in right in front of them, say, on the bumper of your car, side of your van(s), billboard ads,
Even so, there are no guarantees someone will sit down and physically type out y-o-u-r-d-o-m-a-i-n.com.
Thatâ€™s why it’s essential to include links to your business in all the digital media you create such as:
- email signatures,
- electronic newsletters,
- YouTube-, Facebook-, Twitter profiles, etc
You don’t have to be a genius to realise people are much more likely to click a link to your website thatâ€™s right in front of them than go to the trouble of typing. That’s why it’s important links to your website are all over the Net.
Google â€“ The first page of your website
One of the most important sources of traffic to your website is Google. People sit down and look for information, services and products and studies show that they tend to visit the first few sites that Google throws up in the search engines.
Now it’s not my intention here to give you a lesson in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques (here are 55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love); however, good web writers know that it’s essential to write striking headlines and meaningful meta-descriptions.
Write Headlines that Engage
Striking headlines don’t really need much explaining. You know you’re more likely to be interested in “5 Tips to Kick-Start Your Career” than “Useful Career Tips”. The first example here has drama, dynamism and energy compared to its lacklustre cousin. Still, you need to ensure that the content on your website has great headlines.
The import thing to remember is that web headlines:
- entice your reader to click into the copy and read more
- tell the entire story of the post
- have to work in a variety of formats including the web page, RSS feeds, email subscriptions,
- can’t depend on images, illustrations or text size for impact like print media headlines
- can be updated, tweaked, and changed very easily (unlike print media headlines)
It’s important that you write compelling meta-descriptions for the web pages you publish. This is because it affects the way people view your online content. Even Google recommends you write compelling meta descriptions:
We want snippets to accurately represent the web result. We frequently prefer to display meta descriptions of pages (when available) because it gives users a clear idea of the URL’s content. This directs them to good results faster and reduces the click-and-backtrack behavior that frustrates visitors and inflates web traffic metrics.
One of the reasons I use Chris Person’s Thesis Theme(no affiliate link) is that it allows you to write custom meta-descriptions for each blog post.
Web-writing – Once people arrive at your site
Well, headlines are just as important once people get to your website as they are in Google’s search results. But web writing is more than just creating engaging headlines. You need to:
Write Compelling Content
Visitors to your website typically want information or help. Make sure you communicate in an engaging tone and address the needs of your target audience.
Use the Inverted Pyramid
The inverted pyramid is a metaphor often used by writing instructors to illustrate how information should be arranged or presented within a news story. The pyramidâ€™s broad base at the top of the figure represents the key information the writer means to convey. This is what the rest of the article will illustrate, often supported by quotes from individualâ€™s involved in the story.
One idea = one paragraph
You don’t read Web pages, you scan them jumping from key information to key information. Keep your writing short and snappy to stop your reader getting bored.
Use Action Words
Tell your readers what to do. Avoid the passive voice. Keep the flow of your pages moving.
Use lists â€“ like this one! Bulleted or numbered lists are easier to scan.
Write short sentences
Keep it short and snappy. But don’t write in note form. Imagine you are writing to a friend in a conversational tone of voice. Keep it simple.
Include internal sub-headings
Sub-headings make the text more scannable. Your readers will move to the section of the document that is most useful for them, and internal cues make it easier for them to do this.
Use (hyper) Links
Readers of web pages scan the screen for key information. Links illustrate the key information on a page.
Proof-read your work
Typos and spelling errors don’t just drive people away from your website; they tell visitors that you’re sloppy and unprofessional.