Writing for the web is different from other forms of prose. Your message needs to be crystal clear for your reader and information needs to be searchable by web crawlers (search bots).
Satisfying both human and machine may seem like it complicates things a little. But it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Rule 1 - KISS
The number one thing to remember when writing content for the web is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Sentences should be short, kept to less than 15 words on average. Plan each paragraph to have one theme and aim for less than six sentences in each block.
Generally speaking, you want to keep word usage simple too. This is not to dumb-down your ideas or treat your reader as a child. It’s to ensure your content is easily read and accessible to a specific audience.
Microsoft Word has a readability tool to check readability. Have a look next time you write up a blog post or landing page copy and see what your numbers come out at.
Rule 2 - Use Active Voice
Active sentences follow the structure; subject, verb, object. This keeps your message interesting, relevant and clear. Writing in the active voice also keeps sentences *dynamic, for example: ‘Ken devoured the whole pie’.
In the passive voice, this would be written, ‘The whole pie was devoured by Ken’. This is longer, clunky and impersonal. Passive voice writing does have its place so don’t be too paranoid. Just write in an active voice to keep your web content moving in the right direction.
Rule 3 - Space It Out
As readers, we are inherently lazy. Why read the whole page when you can scan the bones of the information and still get what you need? Web crawlers work the same way. They scan through your content looking for keywords (see below) and favour articles with high useability.
When writing for the web, keep this at the forefront of your mind; allow your time-poor readers (flesh and otherwise) the luxury of soaking up your content without too much fuss.
The easiest way to ensure your content is easy to look at is by breaking up into manageable chunks under clear sub-heads. Readers can scan, pay closer attention to the sections they like, and justify ignoring the rest.
Rule 4 - Use Keywords
Before you launch into writing your web copy, take some time to seek out relevant keywords. These are words and phrases most commonly searched by people who may benefit from your content.
For example, ‘writing for the web’ has a high search rate and low competition for content according to Google Ads keyword planner. There are many other tools you can use to determine your keywords, including predictive search (start typing your topic in to the Google search bar and see what comes up).
Start by writing down as many variations of possible keywords you can think of. Include single words as well as what is known as ‘long-tail keywords’, which are essentially sentences or questions. Pop these keywords into a planner tool and work out which are the most commonly searched and which have the highest competition, then whittle your list down to just a few for each piece of copy.
Keywords are a key aspect of SEO, or search engine optimisation. It pays to have strong SEO so your page can be found. What good is your content if it never gets read?
SEO best-practice is ever-changing due to evolving algorithms and increasingly clever search engines. If you’d like to learn more about keywords and SEO writing, give me a call and we can chat about how to make your content more crawler-friendly.
Rule 5 - Authenticity
Above all else, make sure your content is your own. Ripping off other people's writing will not get you very far. The web may seem infinitely huge, but it is not big enough to hide content cheats. Besides the threat of being found out, you have morals, right?
Search engines also frown on plagiarised content and will demote copy that has been ‘borrowed’ down the search results list. Don’t risk damaging your reputation, use original copy at all times.
If writing website content is not your thing, it may be time to enlist the help of a professional. We all have our strengths! Together, we can work through your topics and put a plan in place to to make sure traffic is driving in the right direction.