Content is important – we all know that. But it’s not just any content that is needed to get websites visible and usable. It is good content that is important to helping a website climb up the search engine rankings. How do you write and commission that elusive ‘good content’ that your target audience will love?
Writing for the web is sometimes talked about as if it were something completely different from other kinds of writing. There are some differences between writing for the web and for print – format and tone are often different, although not always. What makes readers pay attention to what they are reading online, though, is remarkably similar to what makes readers pay attention in any other format. The only difference is that web writing needs to work harder if it is going to really be memorable. Flick through a magazine or newspaper and you are just flicking through a finite number of pages. Browse the internet and there are infinite places to go and things to read. When writing for the web, you need to think hard about what will get people to read your content, and not all the other content that is just a mouse click or two away.
Every audience is different, but there are some things that hold true regardless. These are the three key things to remember:
– Make it relevant.
By relevant, we mean relevant to the audience, not to the writer. Think about who you are writing for, what they want to know and why.
– Make it different.
Writing for the web is not about fitting in –it’s about standing out. Everything is derived from somewhere, but just because your ideas might not be completely original, that doesn’t mean you can’t present them in an original way, or find a different perspective.
– Tell a story.
There is a theory amongst fiction writers and literary critics that there are only seven plots in literature that are told and retold time and again. They are usually quoted as: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy and rebirth. These may not apply to web content writing (although arguably, they might!).Regardless of the plot, all of these stories need to have those three clichéd but crucial elements; the beginning, middle and end. Be as creative as you like, but remember that a plot is what keeps the story flowing, and makes it memorable.
Good web writing is not about clever tricks, but common sense. Give your readers something they want to read, and they will tell their friends and keep coming back for more.