Writing for the web and writing for print are two completely different worlds which come with their own set of rules. We tend to scan read content online, searching for the key words to lead us to the information we are on the hunt for. This therefore means that web writers have to change their language in order to help these scan readers.
The most important rules for web writing include:
1) Use clear and simple language
Slang and jargon should be avoided as this may confuse readers and even make them leave your site in search of something simpler. By keeping your writing clear, concise and correct it means that you can be easily understood by a wider audience. If language is kept simple it helps international readers and the dyslexic.
2) Write for the scanners
Research suggests that only 16% of people read web pages word-for-word. Most people scan. www.enchantingmarketing.com/writing-for-the-web-vs-print/
Ideally a reader should be able to scan your sub-headings and get the gist of what your content is about, so avoid large chunks of unbroken text because frankly nobody will read this! If you use lists or bullet points instead of long paragraphs it makes it far easier to scan and by limiting each paragraph to one point, you will save yourself from waffling.
3) Keep it short
Short paragraphs, short sentences, short words. It’s okay to use single sentence paragraphs.
4) Use familiar words
Using familiar words or ‘care words’ attracts your reader’s attention as this is what they are on the lookout for and this is the same with the trigger words. For example, if you’re searching for a cheap holiday, you wouldn’t type into Google ‘cost effective flights’ you’d type ‘cheap flights’. By using care words it makes your site far more user friendly.
5) Put the most important information first
You’ll be telling the reader everything they want to know straight away instead of getting bored halfway through. This removes the issue of the reader never discovering the information they went looking for in the first place until they reach the very end of your site.
6) Use a conversational tone
You need to learn to speak as you write to keep your text light hearted and easy to digest for your readers. They don’t want to feel as if they are reading an essay!
7) Make it visually engaging
Our eyes weren’t designed to be reading from a screen all day so do whatever you can do to keep your readers eyes on the screen. Bolden important words. Go crazy with your italics. Keep them engaged!
These seven steps are nothing too complex and definitely not impossible to carry out in practice. By following these guidelines, you can see how a simple change in language can be the difference in somebody leaving your site and reading every last word.