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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How to Write Web Copy That Gets a Response

2013.6.2. News

There is business writing and there is writing for the web.

Writing for the web is an intentional process for eliciting a response, and often a series of responses. This is why it is sometimes referred to as direct response copywriting.

Your web copy should be designed to attract attention, develop a relationship with an audience, and then convert that interest into some form of action. These actions could range from gradually building your community to taking advantage of an offer to buy products and services.

For your copy to get read, it first has to be discovered. In other words, web copywriting is also SEO copywriting.

Following these 9 practices will give your web copy the essential qualities necessary for earning both the attention of your audience – and the search engines.

9 Essential Practices for Writing Responsive Web Copy

#1 – A headline that signals the nature of the content – There are headlines that inform and those that build curiosity. If you can accomplish both, you have a winner. Think of your headline like the title of a great book or film – one that will get people to show up and listen to your story.

2. A meta-description that delivers on that headline – If the headline is the title of the film, the meta-description is the opening scene. It has to honor the promise of the headline to instantly engage the audience. For articles and blog posts, this is usually the first couple of lines.

3. Economy of words that respect the attention of the audience – Short sentences that make a point always work best. There is no need for long build-ups. Think of your content as a meal that is about to be consumed. Your audience is hungry, so serve it up!

4. Distinct sections and short paragraphs that flow from one to the next – Organized sections, short paragraphs, and bolded highlights help your audience quickly get to the good stuff. Keep paragraphs to no more than three sentences (as I have done in this article). It feels awkward at first; then it becomes a habit.

5. Internal and external links to related content – Internal links to your related content help your SEO. External links to influential sources add to your credibility, just like a footnote or bibliography show you’ve done your homework.

6. Images and other multi-media that enhance the writing – Visuals of any kind add to the experience. They engage and help to anchor your story in the minds of the audience. Remember that the best marketing is memorable.

7. Use of relevant keyword phrases – Keywords are the language of the web. They are relatable to your audience and the search engines. They are a signal that you know your audience and the material you are presenting, and therefore, serve to get your copy read and ranked highly for search.

8. An appropriate call-to-action – Your writing should move your audience to action. It should educate, entertain, and inspire. Once that is accomplished, you want to engage them further by having them subscribe for more – or purchase what you have that will give them additional value.

9. Author attribution – Google is making an effort to reward authors for their original content. This is accomplished by referencing your email address or link to your Google+ profile in your content. This enhances your authority as an expert in your area of expertise, which thereby enhances the authority of all of your copy.

Writing for the web is a very focused and tight form of writing that acknowledges the objectives of search engines, and therefore people searching the web, as well as the core audience that has already subscribed to your content.

This makes it a more interesting form of writing. Think of writing for the web as a challenging game; one that you can master with practice. 

Are you ready to get started?

Please subscribe to my Free newsletter – Web Marketing News. In addition to getting weekly web marketing updates, you will get the early announcement when I launch my new online training for mastering the art and science of web copywriting.

Additional Resources

Why We Write is a book that inspired my writing. I read it twice. Acclaimed novelists such as David Baldacci, Jodi Picoult, and Isabel Allende share their writing habits and secrets. This will help you to find your own personal writing style.

Why I Write is an article of my own whose title was inspired by the aforementioned book. I hope it inspires you.

Writing to Remember is an article that answers the question I am often asked: How long did it take to write your book? You and I have enough ideas to fill dozens of books. You just need to get started.

5 Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Outstanding is an earlier article that goes into a number of these topics in depth.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)

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