Writing for the Web

Writing for the Web

There are three basic guideline for writing for the web:
  1. Be succinct
  2. Write for scanability
  3. Use keywords in your content

Be Succinct

  1. Concise
    • “Wasted words, wasted space’
    • Limit a page to one topic
    • Put information – carrying content within the first few words of the headline and paragraph text
  2. Concrete
    • Avoid words that do not have a specific, concrete meaning. (a historical offender: Facility)
    • Concentrate on keywords that your audience will be using to conduct searches
    • Opt for real-world examples that readers can relate to, instead of theory, when possible
  3. Clear writing
    • Focus on the reader’s experience and needs. As you write, put yourself in the reader’s frame of reference.
    • Make content actionable. The web surfer’s purpose is to find information, not be told a story.
    • Usually, the active voice is clearer than the passive voice; but not always.
    • Favor clear over clever.

Make it Scanable

  • Two or three levels of headlines (page header, subhead, sub-subhead)
  • Highlight keywords (boldface, colored, or hypertext links)
    • Use hypertext links to split up long information into multiple pages.
  • Bulleted lists
  • Short paragraphs – one idea per page
  • Inverted pyramid style of writing (Bottom Line Up Front)
  • Half the words (or less) of conventional

Use Keywords

Here is your chance to include keyword in a way that really matters, in the body of your text. Vary the words you use, this will help search engines better match your content with searches. Remember though, clarity comes first, keywords second.

Additional Resources

This is not an exhaustive discussion of search engine optimization, or web writing.
Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide addresses these additional topics. It is well worth reading.
  • Improve the structure of your URLs
  • Make your site easier to navigate
  • Write better anchor text
  • Optimize your use of images
  • Make effective use of robots.txt
  • Be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links
  • Promote your website in the right ways
  • Make use of free webmaster tools
  • Take advantage of web analytics services

One response to “Writing for the Web

  1. Pingback: Writing for the Web | Next Generation Extension

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