Writing for the web is increasingly becoming an essential skill for young PR and marketing pros. Jobs such as “Content Strategist,” “Content Specialist,” and “Community Manager” require web-writing skills from candidates.
Unlike writing an essay, however, writing for the web requires a different skill set.
Not sure how to write content for the web? Here are some beginner tips to keep in mind:
1. Be concise.
Generally, shorter is better when it comes to web content. Readers want to get the information that they need quickly and efficiently.
To write clearly and concisely, use the active voice as much as possible. Passive voice makes for weak writing, but use it sparingly to vary the tone of your sentences.
Avoid redundancy and cut unnecessary stuff. Also, keep your paragraphs short. Anything more than 3 to 6 lines can look text-heavy.
2. Use headings.
Web readers tend to skim, so use headings and subheadings to guide their eyes.
If you know HTML, consider using <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags to make your copy more easily digestible.
Similarly, format your copy strategically. Bold, italicize, or underline to highlight important information.
3. Use bullets or numbers.
When writing instructions or how-to guides, consider using bullets and lists. This tactic helps avoid long paragraphs — as a writer, it might also help you better organize what you’re trying to communicate.
4. Use photos.
Images illustrate your point and visually break up your content. Make your content more compelling by using a few images.
If you can create your own images, do so. Keep in mind balance, line, colour, and other components of a great photo.
5. Link to other websites — and to your own pages.
The best blog posts and articles link to other relevant web content. Doing so helps your reader find more information, but it also gives credit to your sources, which then adds credibility to your own content.
For SEO purposes, keep your anchor text succinct and relevant to the target page. Also, don’t be afraid to link to your own pages if they are relevant.
6. Write for your reader, not for SEO.
Marketers used to write for keywords, but those days are long gone.
Today, Google and other search engines have algorithms smart enough to identify ‘over-optimized’ pages. Stuffing your content with keywords is counterproductive.
Instead of writing for SEO, consider the following:
- Identify your target audience and keep in mind the tone that they would use and understand.
- Read your work aloud to flesh out awkward sentences. (Deliberately using keywords will oftentimes result to awkward phrasing.)
- Use your keywords’ synonyms, but don’t overdo it.
- Create ‘shareable’ content. Check out the type of articles users often share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media platforms. What makes them unique and compelling?
7. Follow great examples.
Emulating the best can help improve your own writing. I recommend the following rock stars:
Find your own voice!
Use these tips as a starting point. Continuously improve your craft by writing frequently. Once you master the basics, break some rules and start having fun with your writing!
Questions about writing for the web? Did I miss any important tips? Comment below to let me know.