Writing for The Web: 3 Important Tips


Before the web, writing a letter, an article, or even a book was straightforward.

It was all about the content.

These days your writing is likely to be published on the web, at least a portion of it, and that changes everything.

Why Writing for the Web is Different

In addition to building your audience, distributing content on the web is a means for driving profitable customer actions. This practice, known as content marketing, is just one of many reasons for learning how to write for the web.

One of the key distinctions about writing for the web is that your content is readily shareable.

More importantly, this content that started out as your writing can then be atomized (more than repurposed – reimagined) into appropriate portions to be consumed by different audiences, on different platforms, and in other digital formats that provide uniquely different context.

Thus, your writing for the web should consider all three – the original form of content, its intended audience and where they will interact with it, and the context within which they may find themselves when they do.

#1 – Design Your Content for Discovery and Sharing

Writing for the web is writing to reach a larger percentage of a defined audience. For this to happen your content needs to be designed for discovery and sharing, by both people and search engines. Following are key considerations for accomplishing this objective.

Title – Headlines or titles with relevant keywords are of utmost importance. It is best to have your title lead with the most relevant keywords, such as the word “writing” for this article in particular.

Consider the title of your writing to be a crafted description of what will follow. If it lacks clarity or focus, the assumption is your writing does too.

Meta Description – The meta description is the “slug” of content that search engines use to describe your online content. If your content platform does not specifically provide for this (such as a WordPress), by default the first sentence or two is what will be used.

Internal Links – Internal links tell the search engines that your content is relevant to other content on your site, with the first link being especially important. So, make it a good one and have it as early in the article as possible.

External links – External links to sites with authority on the topic of your writing communicate depth in your research. These authoritative sources essentially validate your work.

Subheadings and Key Phrases – After the title, the next most important keywords are the subheadings. These further describe your written content at a glance for Google and your audience.

Also, when you bold specific keyword phrases in your writing it further identifies words most relevant to the message of the writing.

Paragraphs – Writing for the web calls for short, bite-sized paragraphs. This practice has become an expectation that is carrying over to print.

Completeness – I’m often asked what is the ideal or recommended length for a blog post or online article. The best answer to this is whatever it takes to get the job done without any unnecessary fluff. Forget about length and instead focus on completeness of the message.

Visuals – Photos, videos, and audio that accompany your writing tend to follow it as it gets shared on the web. Therefore, it makes sense to choose supporting media that adds value to your writing.

Bonus – The visual design of your writing instantly signals to readers that you are a web savvy writer that has carefully considered the above essentials.

#2 – Serve the Extended Web Audience

When you write for the web you serve several audiences that have common interests, but that are uniquely different, much like an extended family.

If your content is well-designed, it will meet both the expectations of Google and the ideal audience that the search engines can help you to reach. The design criteria in #1 signal to Google that your content meets their standards, and its sharing by your audience further communicates its relevancy and authority.

In addition to the audience that has yet to discover your writing, there are those loyal subscribers that have come to expect your writing to reflect a personal style. Thus, the challenge is keeping your content sufficiently clean for search, while also being personal and original.

Originality is a quality that is sure to become increasingly important for authors of web content.

Writing for people and search engines will soon be the same as quality standards continue to rise. So, the best recommendation is to seek clarity, organization, and simplicity in your writing, while also balancing short and long forms or content, supplementing it with multi-media, and developing a style that resonates with your core audience.

#3 – Adapt to Digital Trends and Social Context

Repurposing your content to formats that better suit the contextual needs of of your audience will be sure to enhance its value.

The shift towards mobile in particular is increasing demand for content in portable formats, such as shareable photos, podcasts, and videos. These richer formats naturally lead to greater intimacy, a quality that is vital for building an audience.

The reason this is exciting for writers is this:

Writing is the starting point for creating high quality, shareable, multi-media, digital, and social content. 

Writing as we know it is changing, and it is more relevant than ever as a marketing skill. The challenge is rethinking and reimagining your writing for a digital world that is now central to businesses and their customers.

This article was inspired by many recent requests for advice on blogging and content marketing, so come back for more.

You may also be interested in how these skills will help you to Write Emails that Get a Response.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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Google+ is Content Marketing on Fire

Google+ is Content Marketing Fire www.jeffkorhan.com

Sustainable communities are often described as ecosystems in which everyone gets what they want.

This explains why Google+ is steadily gaining momentum for attracting the attention of a wider audience than even Facebook, and quite possibly one that will prove to be more powerful for content marketers

Over the past couple of years we’ve watched as the Google+ community has evolved from predominantly technophiles, to an increasingly mainstream audience that includes regular small business owners like you and me.

In a worldwide web that is driven by content, there are three big reasons why ignoring Google+ any longer is to risk online irrelevance.

#1 – Search Drives the Web

It goes without saying that Google+ should merit your attention simply because Google itself controls approximately 67% of search here in North America; and Google+ is clearly the favorite son of the search giant.

A significant reason for paying particular attention to Google+ is that content mentions within Google+ seem to merit search rankings that are even higher than the original source.

While this is an observation that many of us have noticed in recent months, it turns out there is data to support it. According to Moz.com,  the number of plus ones on Google+ rate second only to the overall page authority for determining the search ranking of a site. Is this surprising?  It shouldn’t be.

When you consider that Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant search results as quickly as possible, it’s logical that those infused with social context will be more relevant than static content.

#2 – Google+ is An Identity Service

It has been evident for some time that Google+ would prove to be an identity service. The first clue  was in 2011 when Google Profiles instantly became Google+ About pages for personal accounts. This was handwriting on the wall for things to come.

Then Google Places became Google+ Local. And most recently, YouTube videos and comments are by default now automatically published to our Google+ profiles.

Are you noticing a trend here?

It is clear that Google+ is the service that will integrate content from all of the Google properties, and by design, as much of everything else as possible.

What’s fascinating is that all of this is being done very quietly, and that may be because the tech oriented Google+ community tends to embrace change. Unlike the Facebook community, the general thinking seems to be: “let’s see what we can do with this.”

The bottom line is unlike Facebook, the Google+ community trusts Google+. This all dates back to the beginning when Googlers (Google employees) were active on the platform for the specific purpose of learning how to improve the Google+ learning experience.

This collaborative approach is one that you may wish to consider for your business in 2014. It’s certainly part of my strategy.

#3 – Social Context is Authority

One of the recent search benefits that enhances the Google+ social experience are the automatic hashtags. Some people are using hashtags and others are not. Therefore, Google+ is taking the liberty of appending your content with a hashtag to give that content some searchable context.

Make it your business to pay attention to which hashtags Google+ decides are relevant – and why. This will not only help you to better choose hashtags for Google+, but also for other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It seems logical that there are topic areas that Google would like to drive more traffic to. This is the win-win. If several hashtags seem appropriate for your content, why not use the one Google+ chooses to establish your authority by having your content rank more highly?

Additionally, if you have not yet activated Google Authorship you will want to make that a priority to claim authorship of your original content. Here’s why.

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified results). The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”  – Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt

It stands to reason that relevant hashtags attached to your Google+shared content will further define your authority as a subject matter expert in those specific areas.

SEO used to be about links and keywords. Now Google+ is layering in Authorship, shares, +1’s, and relevant hashtags to provide additional social context to that content marketing equation.

I couldn’t be more excited about Google+. How about you? 

Update: At least for now, Google has officially killed Authorship. Many of us are scratching our heads as to why. More updates coming!

All the best for an outstanding New Year!

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+

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