5 Great Tips on How to Write for the Web

by Rolando Fuentes

The Internet is deeply rooted in our lives. However, businesses fail to communicate effectively over the web as it is very different then pamphlets and brochures. The Internet allows one to publish content, analyze the response, edit the content and repeat. It is a dynamic process and allows a continually evolving message tailored to the changing tastes of our audience.

Follow the UX Leader’s workshop provided many great tips and insights on how to better communicate and engage with your audience. Although some ideas are quite Internet specific, some also pay respects to past ideologies which are still relevant today.

If you couldn’t make this workshop hosted by Jeff Parks and Kristina Mausser, these are some of the lessons taught that you can apply.

1. Do the Research.

Sometimes the creation of a website focuses so much on the layout and architecture that the content is simply thrown on at the end. This of course is not an ideal process. Writing out the content should be only the tip of the iceberg.

Here is a list of actions that first should be taken:

1) Define the purpose of the content.

2) Do keyword research to understand the best keywords to use.

3) Complete market research.

4) Leverage previous steps to employ content forecasting to plan more effective content.

5) Plan any other content to be added.

6) Complete Information architecture which includes design and content placement.

7) Write the content.

2. Tell a Story.

People are reading what you write and getting them not just to read but engage is difficult. However, by changing sentences slightly to tell a story makes a big difference. They showed this powerful video as an example:

It is important to choose your words that your audience will relate to; the effects will be dramatic. For example, instead of saying “Buy tickets for a band”, say “The band will be rocking, will you?”

3. Focus on the Benefit.

When writing content for a website, people tends to focus on features or use language that is known within the company or industry professionals. However, these 2 approaches can alienate the consumers.

A good approach in choosing your words is to write about the real benefit you provide to the consumer. By creating engaging stories and focusing on benefits from the consumer’s point of view, the overall response will be much greater.

4. Less is More.

This is of course not a new idea but is quite vital to web writing and is very relevant in today’s world. If a simple word can be used in place of a more complex one change it to the simpler. Keeping it simple and concise is the key to engaging audiences.

The standard rule was to keep descriptions of one’s company or brand to fewer than 250 words, but nowadays it is closer to 150. Consider this, at 100 words you’ve lost 25% of your audience’s attention, at 1000 words you’ve lost 80%. This doesn’t mean that they will leave the page but it does mean they simply aren’t giving it as much focus as you would like.

5. SEO Has Changed.

Google’s SE has changed to include engagement of audience on websites to affect the ranking in their search engine. That means that keyword density is no longer the best way to get more search engine traffic.

Metadata tags no longer affect your ranking, or if they do, only affect it insignificantly. However, meta description still does and should be geared to be search engine friendly. Another place to optimize your SE ranking is the title tag; it has a measurable influence on Google results. To create an effective title tag use your most relevant keywords first, put down your company name after, and location last if it can fit. It should be under 65 characters but you can get away with a little more.

Bonus: Quick Tips for Web Writing.

• Delete unnecessary instructions and keep only the core ones.

• Simplify explanations as much as possible.

• Simplify sentences by circling prepositions and eliminating them.

• When creating a website, start with mobile architecture and content to get extremely concise.

• Use numbers don’t write them out.

• Delete the first paragraph. For instance, is the first paragraph of this article at all necessary?

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Rolando Fuentes

Rolando Fuentes

I’m a student, not just of school but of life and of each of my personal interests. After a year-long internship in Ottawa working for Research in Motion, I have grown passionate about the technology sector and learning about its current state and future direction. Now back in Vancouver, I am fascinated by social media and marketing, which have become the focus of my studies. Working with... more

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