Most of what you may have learned in school about writing most likely did not refer to writing for the web. Writing content that is suitable for the web is very distinct than writing content intended for reading in print.
This post takes a quick look at why it is different and why it matters.
The blindingly obvious difference is one will be read from a book or magazine, and the other will be read off a screen. We all know that curling up with a good book for several hours is a real pleasure, but if someone reads a lengthy document on a screen they are likely to end up tired and irritable after a few hours!
When you read from paper, a light source bounces off the paper and is reflected into your eyes. When you look at a computer screen, the light isn’t reflected – it is direct. The light from paper is diffuse; the light from a computer screen is harsher.
Also, when we browse the web for information, the first and biggest part of our work is finding the information. When we site down with a book or newspaper, we already have it, we are holding it in our hands; so on the web finding the information is of the greatest importance, until we find it, we cannot read it!
Hence why it is very important that search engines return relevant results for our keywords – the time spent searching for what we are looking for should be as short as possible.
When we choose a page from the given search results, it is important we quickly see that the page is relevant to what we are looking for. We are then likely to dip in and out of the content, finding the bits that are relevant to what we wish to know, and ignoring the bits that aren’t.
Reading a printed document is much more linear; we usually read it word by word, line by line.
Therefore when writing web content you need to consider these points.
Web content should:
• Be clear and Straight to the point
• Be very relevant to the title of the page
• Consist of short sentences and paragraphs
• Depend less on linear reading.
• Be easy to skim with sub headings, links and bulleted lists.
When writing content for the web put yourself in the reader’s shoes, and decide if the content supplies the relevant information for the given keyword. Writing web content well may not be a skill you acquire overnight, but once you have mastered the skill, you can be sure it is a talent you will be able to profit from in infinite ways!