Writing for the web

Writing for the web

Photo of Sean DrurySean Drury

Opinions - 4th March, 2019

Writing user-friendly content for the web requires a very different approach from writing other marketing literature. It is important to ensure that the content is easy to find, well-structured, and uses language efficiently to provide users with the answers they seek.

Audience

Users often approach a web page with specific tasks in mind which they want to accomplish as quickly as possible. On average, online audiences only read 20% of the words on a web page, so important information should be included in the first 2-3 paragraphs.

Additional information can come afterwards, but audience attention may start to wane. Use internal links to maintain their interest and allow them to explore the website further.

It is acceptable - encouraged, even - to repeat key points which have already been stated elsewhere on the website. The audience will not scan the entire website in search of information.

Language and Structure

Online content should use plain language and basic vocabulary which all audiences can understand. It should contain keywords that the audience will search for in search engines.

Content is easier to read when it is broken up. Paragraphs should be no longer than about four lines or five short sentences. Bullet points and numbered lists are often a more effective way of presenting information.

Headings and sub-headings can be used to structure the content. Relevant images and multimedia can also be used throughout the page to make content more user-friendly.

SEO

Effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital to the success of any website. Most traffic that websites receive is channelled through search engines, and there are several simple methods which can be implemented to improve SEO.

In search engine results, a website is represented by its meta title and description. The meta title should include the company name and one or two relevant keywords. The description should be a call to action, providing greater detail about the page to encourage visitors to click and read more.

Headings are also important to SEO, so these should contain keywords which audiences might enter into search engines. There are different types of heading in HTML code, with H1 being the most important (and should only appear once on a page) down to H6 being the least important.

Search engines cannot process images, so these should be supported by alt text describing the content of the image.

On page SEO is an important component to a successful website - we will explore this topic in greater depth at a later date.

Conclusion

Hopefully you now know a bit more about writing for the web. Effective online content is crucial to the success of businesses, as users will look elsewhere if they cannot find the answers they seek.

It is important to make content user-friendly, but even more important to make it search engine-friendly. If a web page cannot be found, it is not serving its purpose.

Bear in mind that this advice is not necessarily applicable in all situations. Different websites and web pages will have different demands, so writers must be able to adapt their writing style depending on the purpose and target audience.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash