Writing Effective Web Prose, Pt. 2

Okay, you wrote a headline that will grab your reader’s attention. But now you have a whole lot more writing to do. Where do you begin? Below is part two (of two) of our “Writing Effective Web Prose” series that explores the subtle, yet important differences you should keep in mind when writing for the web versus any other medium. Let’s get right into it.

Writing Compelling Content:

When people search online, they are usually looking for a specific piece of information. They probably don’t want to know the entire history of the Olympic Games, but are much more likely to be looking for information on who won the 2016 women’s 400 m freestyle, for example. So keep your writing concise and specific.

Interest is quickly lost when people read online. So make sure your writing is exciting, easy to read, and organized in a way that will make sense to your audience. Don’t use jargon, which is sure to get an unfamiliar audience to find a different source for their information.

You might be familiar with the inverted pyramid style of writing, most commonly used by journalists. That is, starting with the most important information such as the “who, what, when, where, and why” at the top, then moving on to the details and interesting facts, and placing the least important information last. This style of writing is very important when writing for the web as well. When you have a web page with a concise, specific topic, make sure the most important information is at the top. People don’t like to dig for their information. They will look elsewhere. Also be sure not to introduce new ideas toward the end of your writing. The content should be able to be cut off from the bottom at any point and still make sense when reading from the top.

Determine what is in it for the reader, and make that apparent early in the content (even the headline). Think about who your audience is comprised of, and write for them. Provide enough detail that you think your reader will be interested in, but also link to reputable sources in case they want to dig deeper into the subject.

Also keep these tips in mind when writing:

  • Use lists when possible (bulleted when there is no order, numbered when there is an order).
  • Write in active voice.
  • Write in a conversational tone.
  • When posting articles to your website, be sure they include the date of publication.

Writing for Search Engines:

There is no secret formula that will secure a top position on Google. If you write great content for your target audience, you will inevitably rank well on search engines. Writing well, being concise, and thinking about what your audience is looking for is what will help your reach the top of a search query. If you write at an appropriate level for your audience and use proper headings (use correct <h> tag formatting), your article will be easy for users and search engines to read.

To dig a little deeper, determine what keywords and phrases are most important for your website as a whole. Use those keywords throughout your website. Use specific keywords to create content for specific pages that cover a specific topic. Think about what your audience will search for, not what you are trying to sell, when coming up with keywords. For example, “grow big tomatoes” might be a stronger phrase than “vegetable fertilizer.” 

That’s all for now

In case you missed it, check out part 1, Writing Headlines that Hook, to learn how to write an effective headline that will meet the standards of your awesome website content!

Sources (thanks!):

Lynda.com “Writing for the Web” https://www.lynda.com/Web-Content-Strategy-tutorials/Writing-Web/180104-2.html

Lynda.com “Writing Headlines” https://www.lynda.com/Content-Marketing-tutorials/Writing-Headlines/461915-2.html

Yoast “SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide” https://yoast.com/complete-guide-seo-copywriting/

QuickSprout “Headline Writing 101: How to Write Attention Grabbing Headlines and convert” https://www.quicksprout.com/the-definitive-guide-to-copywriting-chapter-3/