The Challenges of Web Writing
If you manage a web site or write for online email campaigns this article is for you. Many of our clients already have their own web site or are planning to develop one in the near future. If you’re not posting your campaigns to your web site, you are missing a great opportunity to get your message out. Go global 24-7-365.
Web writing has new challenges that media writing doesn’t have. On your web site, one of your audiences isn’t even human…search engine spiders are roaming the Web looking for keyword relevant pages to index in its' database. Keyword density, word count on a page, meta tags, the words you use in links and other factors are meaningful to search engines. And with email, you’re writing to get past spam filters.
Your audience approaches the Web differently than print media. The reader scans email and web sites quickly for information relevant to their needs. Some sources suggest you have about 8 seconds to capture your audiences’ attention.
Writing for the Web requires a unique skill. A catchy, relevant headline, an easy to read list or a key benefit-oriented sentence works best. Focus on writing copy that visitors can quickly scan. Scanning language like headlines, offers and action-oriented commands can help readers scan efficiently. This language helps readers stay focused on your web page or email.
Books and magazines articles are written to be read from beginning to end. Printed brochures allow the reader to jump around, but they don’t get lost because the pages stay in sequential order. It’s very different on the Web. Visitors will scan, click and jump from page to page as their interest leads them. These roaming activities can cause a visitor to get lost on your site. You must use clear language, highlighting the navigational elements of your site, along with page headlines, to make sure visitors understand where they are on your web site and where to go next.
When writing keep these points in mind...
Page– Your page should have strong headlines and copy that uses keywords relevant to that page. Stay focused on the topic and the reason that readers are looking for you in the first place.
Chunking – Makes your site approachable. Long dense paragraphs just don’t work, use:
- Descriptive headlines
- Multiple sub-headlines on a page or in an email
- Primary content and secondary content
- Short paragraphs of 3-5 lines
- Use of bulleted and numbered lists
Style – Style is a mix of the tone and words you choose to use to express your message. The goal is to achieve a desired effect on your audience. Keywords that apply to your product and service should appear in page headlines, sub-headlines and links to other pages.
- Be honest
- Get to the point
- Be straightforward
- Be conversational
Formatting – Formatting is the font, font style, font size and the spacing between lines and paragraphs that you choose to use. Your decisions determine how easy or hard copy is to read. Keep your web page or email campaign simple. It’s best to choose just a few font choices and text styles.
Inverted Pyramid Writing Style – This writing style works well for web writing and online email campaigns. The most important information appears at the beginning, with supporting information following in decreasing importance. Your readers are busy and want the main facts up front. They will read on if their interest level is high enough and time permits.
Learn to capture your audience’s attention quickly, with a compelling header and secondary headlines, offers and action-oriented commands. All these elements can help readers scan efficiently. Without such scanning language to anchor visitors to your page, they will leave quickly.
Remember… if you provide readers with relevant, targeted information, in an easy-to-read style, they will keep reading.