25 January 2010

Writing for the web

It's simple, but it's not. This isn't a subject I tackle very often here on my blog, because many, many, many other bloggers cover this subject daily. In fact, I read about copywriting much more than I actually write about it.

However, since I had several conversations about writing "copy" rather than fiction today, I thought I'd put a few of my own ideas out there.

My first and most important thought on writing for web pages and blog posts is that it's still writing; you have to be engaging and informative. Like an article, you have to provide information. Like a novel, you have to move forward. If I visit a web site that bores or confuses me, I'm gone - fast.

After you take care of entertainment value, writing for the web needs to weave in keywords, for SEO or Search Engine Optimization purposes. This has to be subtle, but effective without creating awkward and unreadable text.

Have you ever found a web site that seemed like it wasn't authored by an actual person? You may have been reading the work of someone overly excited about Google's Keyword tool.

As Internet users, we all know we experience the web differently than we do a magazine or novel. But how do we read it differently?

We scan web pages for the one nugget we're interested in, click, then do the same thing again and again, hoping to read as little as required to: find a fact, make a purchase, get a location, obtain a contact, etc.

Web writers also have to structure their text differently. Use shorter sentences, more fragments, and often convert those fragments into even shorter bullets.

So I'll take my own advice and keep it brief. But if you write for the web and you're reading this post, please do leave a comment and let me know what you think, where I've gone wrong, or what I'm missing.