15 Best Practices for Writing for the Web
Reading something online is much different from reading it in print. For instance, the screen often causes concentration issues, especially if there are bright images, flashing banners, and other distractions on the web page. The Internet contains millions upon millions of web pages with more content than anyone could ever read in their lifetime. With that much information readily available, most people resort to skimming to locate the pages that they find appealing while ignoring the rest. Due to this, it is essential that you ensure that your posts and pages are easy to read and engaging. This means that they are typo-free and written using the best web copy practices. Here are fifteen best practices to ensure your content will do its job.
1. Write Shorter Paragraphs
Rather than writing your pages or posts in one massive wall of text, it is highly recommended that you break your content into small paragraphs. This will ensure that your content does not intimidate the reader. Use shorter paragraphs and ensure that you give each one a catchy headline. When writing your headlines ensure that each one gives your readers an idea of what the subsequent paragraph contains so that if they want to scan the post they can easily find out the information that they want.
2. Do Not Write Filler Content
Ensure that every sentence you write is informative and interesting to your reader. You should never fill a page with fluff, as it will take away from the quality of your writing. Ensure that your content covers relevant issues that your readers will find helpful. Keep in mind that tips and tricks, resource lists, and how-to articles always draw readers in.
3. Invite People to Respond
The whole point of putting your content on the Internet is because it is an interactive interface. Ensure that your readers know that you appreciate their feedback by asking that they comment on your posts. Put time aside to respond to every comment that is left on your website. If you do not want to get any spam, then it is recommended that you put a spam filter plugin on your site so that you can approve comments before you post them.
4. Be Careful With Punctuation
Inputting punctuation that isn’t necessary makes your sentences unappealing and confusing. Instead, break your sentences up into smaller ones whenever possible. Extra semi-colons and commas make your sentences look much more complicated than they need to be and will often turn your reader away from reading your post.
5. Utilize Relevant Pictures
The right pictures can be the cherry on top of your content by making it more appealing and richer. However, overusing images can overwhelm your audience, and so choose your graphics and photos very carefully. It is also a good idea to add a caption so that your images have even more value. Try to caption your pictures with something that will pique the interest of your readers.
6. Include The Right Amount of Hyperlinks
Articles can always use a bit of enrichment from the outside world. Utilize hyperlinks to entice your readers to look into more information pertaining to your article themselves. These can link to the articles you found helpful yourself in doing research for the article or to affiliates’ sites. However, it is a good idea to make sure that external links open a new window so your readers can get back to your website easily.
7. Know Your Audience
Keep in mind that everyone reads content differently. If you know what your niche audience likes, then you can customize your writing to suit their desires. For example, some readers may like a more laid back tone and the use of “you”, while others may prefer a formal approach. Ensure that you know your audience’s preferences before you start writing.
8. Proofread and Spell Check
Having your spell checker is needed; however it can only fix the words you misspell. This is why it is important that you look for errors that your spell checker does not pick up. For example, make sure that you used the proper use of “then” and “than”, “their” and “there”, and “it’s” and “its”. Additionally, make sure you only put one space after periods so that there is a natural transition from sentence to sentence. If you feel as though your grammar could use a little extra work, then you can also use a grammar checker such as grammarly.com.
9. Write so a Third Grader Can Understand You
A good writer knows that when they are writing content for a general audience and not niche expert readers, writing at a third-grade level will make sure that nearly everyone will be able to understand you. Even intellectual readers will like to read content at an easier reading level. For instance, always explain an acronym once before you use it, besides the ones that are known by everyone like the FBI. Additionally, avoid using large words and explain any terms that a general audience might not know.
10. Use a Constant Voice
Having a writing voice can be a tricky concept to grasp. It is the way that you write and the way that your tone comes across in your content. Some writers’ come off as formal while others come off sounding exactly the way that they talk. While some websites use a sales pitch voice similar to the one you read in a catalog or brochure, others write in a less obvious manner. Whatever voice you choose, it is important that you stick to it. Do not attempt to write in a voice that is not your own, as you will come off as inauthentic. Additionally, make sure that you do not change your tone for each post, as readers do not like inconsistency.
11. Take Away Reader Questions
It is not a pleasant feeling to watch a news report only to be left with more questions than you have answers. The same thing goes for web content. When you write content, it is critical that your readers be left feeling like they have answers and not more questions. Make sure to explain the who, what, when, where, and why. It is also a good idea to have someone else read your content and then write any questions that are nagging him or her after reading it. When readers are finished reading your piece and are left feeling as though their questions have been answered, they will be much more satisfied, and more likely to do whatever it is you want them to.
12. Use Powerful Language and Action-Based Words
One of the best ways to get your readers engaged is to use action words. Make sure that you avoid the passive voice as much as possible, especially if you want your readers to do something. This is because the active voice helps convince readers to take action. Also, make sure that you write to the reader so that they feel as though you are speaking directly to them. Moreover, ensure that you use words that are action sounding and write them so that they are active grammatically.
13. Use Good Examples
One of the best ways to write compelling and engaging content is to use excellent examples in your content. Ensure that the examples you use matter and are helpful to the reader. Also, ensure that they are direct and precise. It is a good idea to explain why the example is pertinent to the reader. It’s also recommended that you find numbers and statistics to back up any claims that you make. Summarize any studies you find on your subject in your content and then link to them. This will maximize your website’s usefulness to readers.
14. Your Visitor’s Needs Should Come First
You may have ideas that work for you or your company, but if they do not make sense to your readers, your content will fall short. It’s imperative that you put your readers first so that your website is effective. Keep in mind that it is not about you; it is about your reader. The best websites are those that think about the customer. Give information that readers want and present it in an organized and interesting fashion. Additionally, make sure that your readers can easily complete the action that you wish them to, whether it is to subscribe to your newsletter, follow your blog, or buy your product.
15. Use Landing Pages
Although you may think that having everyone enter through the homepage of your website is the best strategy, it is not. Instead, it is best to use a targeted approach by using landing pages that are on one specific subject. For example, if someone wants information on your return policy, you should have a landing page that is specifically dedicated to that one subject. Landing pages foster a much higher viewer rate than homepages do. Also, ensure that your landing pages are well organized on your website so people can easily navigate them.
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