Writing for the web is a necessary part of running a business. It’s important to communicate your business’s message in a way your audience will identify with.
That means a firm understanding of the English language (hello grammar and spelling), but also occasionally making your high school English teacher roll her eyes (shorter sentences, contractions). Writing for the web is an experiment in finding what works for your audience.
13 Tips Writing for the Web
- Use shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs. Website readers tend to scan. They have a lot of information in front of them, with a generally shorter attention span. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that one sentence is never longer than three lines on your computer. Paragraphs can be two to three sentences long. You’re not writing expansive pieces of fiction.
- Always check your grammar and spelling. Misspelled words and grammatical mistakes can chip away at your credibility. Readers may question your expertise and be tempted to move on to the next site in the listings, if they notice a lot of writing mistakes. It may be time to hire a copy editor or proofreader to look over your work.
- Think visually. Sure this means photographs and graphics, but it also means breaking your text up with subheads and lists. It makes reading your important blog post more manageable.
- Hook your customers up front. Use your headline and lead paragraphs to draw your customers into your writing, and engage them in what you have to say. You can do this by demonstrating you understand their pain point, rather than simply trying to sell them your product.
- Consider your word choice. Use strong verbs and write in the active voice. Avoid industry jargon whenever possible. If it’s not possible define it. If you use acronyms, make sure the acronym is spelled out on first reference.
- Tell them what’s next. If a reader makes it all the way through your blog post or web content, they expect you to tell them what they can do next. A strong call to action does exactly that. Sure, it can be a sale, but it can also be to download an eBook or simply comment on a blog.
- Write in your authentic voice. Picture yourself out for coffee with your customer. How would you be explaining your business? Write how you would talk in this conversation.
- Use links. Did you mention a subject you’ve written about in the past? Make sure your blog posts are linked up in every way possible. Your goal is to keep people moving through your website as much as possible, without leaving. This is how.
- Save your headline for last. You want people to read what you spent all that time on. So slave on the headline. The temptation is just to slop a few short words up there. But your headline is the single biggest factor in whether someone will read your post. So learn how to write great headlines. Use adjectives that will pique their interest, like: awesome, free, easy, or time-saving. These help convey a benefit.
- Use contractions. The goal is to talk in a way that can engage your customers. You want you readers to see a glimmer of personality, and to genuinely convey a likeability in your writing. Contractions are a great way to make your writing a little more readable. Think about it, you’re not going to separate every word out in the course of conversation. Don’t do it in your writing either.
- Consider your keywords. What do you want to rank for? You can use the Google Keyword Planner to find out things like search volume. Throw it into your headline. Sprinkle it through your story. A pro tip here: don’t forget to use the occasional pronoun (its, his, hers, etc.). Keyword bombing to pick up your position in the search engines can backfire with your readers, those people who may actually buy something from you.
- A little humor can help. It’s up to you to understand when it’s appropriate, and when it might be overkill.
- Build your value. While it’s true that blog posts shouldn’t be so annoyingly promotional, it’s important to convey your expertise. Show readers why they should buy from you. Show your readers how to do things on their own. Educate them on all aspects of your industry. When they need you, they’ll remember.
Writing for the web is not quite the same as the promotional copy businesses produced for ads, sales letters, and other aggressive copy. The words “for the low, low price” should not be used in consecutive order anywhere.
If any of it seems like more than you bargained for, you could always outsource.