Even the best authors need a lesson in how to write for the web. If you’ve reached the point in your web development process where you are ready to overflow your empty webpages with eye catching, mind engaging, titillating content, then you may want to read some of the pointers this article gives.
Together, you and I will look at some of the answers to questions ranging from “How long should a post be?” to the mind grappling “What should I write about?” To begin, lets break down our lesson:
- KISS Your Titles
- Break Up Your Content
- Emphasize don’t EMPHASIZE
- Writing “Good” Content
- Further Reading
KISS Your Titles
Keep It Simple, Silly. Titles are one of your content’s most important features. Why? First off, your title is your first and most important attempt at grabbing your reader’s attention. Second, your title is key to how search engines rank your posts.
In regard to the importance of titles in grabbing your reader’s attention, according to Problogger.net:
“Head over to Google and type in virtually any word you can think of and you’ll often find millions of results. The interesting thing is that for most search results in Google (and other SE’s) there is very little for readers to go by in deciding which result to click on. There is a title, a short excerpt and a URL. The most highlighted of these is the title…”
This is also true of RSS feeds. You want your title to be both simple and eye catching. Make sure your title conveys what the article is going to talk about in 40 characters or less. Here are some examples:
- 5 Ways to Improve Your Titles
- How to Create Amazing Blog Titles
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Blog Titles
- The Funniest Title Mistakes of 2013
Break Up Your Content
Some topics need a little space. Trust me, it makes the relationship better. Breaking up your content actually adds to its readability. The second your reader sees an extra large table filled with nothing but uniformly formatted words, their eyes glaze over, and they start looking for anything else to look at. Images, lists, and headers are three great beginner steps to breaking up your content into easy to digest mouthfuls. I’ll talk about images in a bit, but here are some examples of lists and headers:
This is a Header
Headers are great because they emphasize your text, drawing your reader to a change in topic, new point, or sub-points.
This is another Header
See how using the different header tags can draw attention to different chunks of your content and even sub-points within your different segments?
Lists Define and Decorate Content
Lists are great for:
- Simplifying and organizing content
- Creating step by step instructions
- Adding intrigue to your paragraphs
- Pulling your reader through your content
Emphasize, don’t EMPHASIZE
Simply put, you should follow the unofficial web rules for writing. Little things such as USING ALL CAPS is the cyber equivalent to yelling. If you’re angry at your reader, please feel free to turn Caps Lock on. However, don’t be surprised when your blog becomes popular for all the wrong reasons.
A few other things to avoid is using bold and underline to add emphasis or create headers. It’s better to use the html tags <h1></h1> for headers, and underline is restricted to only links within the design of a website. Underlines are not permitted in content in compliance with web standards for accessibility.
As far as adding emphasis to your content, there is a bit more freedom. Obviously, depending on the intent behind your blog, you have the creative license to present yourself any way you want. If your main goal is to present yourself as a professional, it’s safer to avoid using bold, underline, and, even in some cases, italics.
Writing “Good” Content
“Good” content is going to mean something different to each writer and reader. The quality of an article’s content is debatable and hard to measure. However, the quality of the article’s writing can be measured by its:
- Research Quality
- Spelling and Grammar
- Use of Graphics
Usefulness and uniqueness can go hand in hand. Before writing you should have researched who your intended audience is. Knowing that will help you determine both your intent and approach. For example if your audience is age group 15-18 years old and your intent is to educate them on blogging, you would want to tweak your tone and vocabulary to match their wants. If you are working for a client and need to write an instructional piece on how to blog for a general crowd, it changes your tone and approach.
Your research, spelling, and grammar are a few things that also go hand in hand. Even commentary articles need to be well researched and cited. If you fail to do this, you endanger your credibility as a writer. Grammar and spelling also contribute to your overall professionalism. If you want to be taken seriously and, better yet, if you want your client to be taken seriously, master all three of these. If you have the luxury of having an editor, utilize them! Also, remember that spellcheckers are not fail proof.
Last on our lesson is graphics. I hate to use a cliche, but this is a truth everyone needs to grasp: a picture is worth 1,000 words. Your reader will appreciate a picture or a video over a thousand words any day. It has become an expectation that webpages have some type of visual content. Photos and videos are going to be the attention grabbers for your post. Make sure that you use them, appropriately, and that they do justice to your words.
Here are more references for you to peruse on how to create great posts:
- ClarkWP WordPress Magazine