Writing good online content is very different to writing a speech or an article in the ‘real world’.
On the web people like to get their information quickly, and so they tend to scan content instead of reading it properly. If it looks irrelevant, or simply too hard to read, they will move on. Check out your web page bounce rate and see what that tells you…
The trick is to be clear and concise:
1. Identify your message – ask yourself why you are writing this particular piece of online content. Pinpoint the purpose and you are halfway there.
2. Don’t waffle – keep to the subject and don’t use ten words where three will do.
3. No jargon – try not to use slang or jargon unless you are targeting a specific audience who will know exactly what you mean.
4. Explain as you go – keep in mind the likely level of understanding of your target audience. Explain complicated issues and jargon (if you really have to use it) in layman’s terms.
5. Break it up – a long page of unbroken text is very off-putting. Break it up with sub headings and bullet points.
6. Short paragraphs – aim to discuss only one idea per paragraph and make sure no paragraph is more than eight lines long. The shorter the better, really!
7. Links – there is nothing wrong in linking back to a source. Not only do search engines love it, but it allows interested readers to find out more, while everyone else can skim past. Both will thank you for it!
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and take a critical look at the content you have written. Can you split some of those paragraphs up a bit? Would they work in the form of a list or bullet points? And last, but not least, how does it sound when you read it aloud?
Time to get the red pen out…
(This blog was first posted in 2013 on an earlier version of this website)