The reading level for this article is Novice

Now that your website is up and running, it’s time to add content. Fresh content will make your site interesting and keep people (and search engine crawlers) coming back. In order to achieve optimal web success, your site must be informative, relevant and written the way that people read the web. Here’s a few tips to get you started.

Get to the point–FAST. Just ask internet usability guru Jakob Nielsen. People don’t read the web, they scan. It’s not like print, where you can meander your way to the point. Online, you have but a nanosecond to prove you’re legit. Nielsen says to use the “inverted pyramid method." for web content. Tell the point first, get to the supporting info afterwards.

Find your inner voice. We want to hear you on your website, not a text book or someone else. Get in touch with your real-live human “voice.” Hello? Is anybody there? Show us your humanity so we can relate to you. Don’t publish anything that you haven’t completely written researched or re-worked. Posting text to your website that’s meant for the printed page is a no-no. People won’t read it, and worse, they’ll make bad faces at you.

Use the least amount of words for what you have to say. Listen, you’re not going to impress us by using big technical words. In fact, when you use words we don’t understand–I must say–you look stupid. Why? It’s easier to write a story with 3000 words than it is to write the same story in 300. It takes more thought, more planning, more time to extract away the excess. Therefore, the writer who uses less words to convey to same message is clearly the winner.

Write to a person, not a group. When you are writing web content especially, write to a person. Pretend like that person is sitting right in front of you and write conversationally. When you write to a person, it draws the reader in and makes you look more human. It’s good for connecting and bonding with your reader.

Don’t talk down to your readers. Though it’s true that most of your readers will be reading at the 9th grade level, and your content should be written accordingly, resist the urge to talk down to your audience. Humble yourself. And certainly don’t try to appear more knowledgeable with shop talk. If you don’t know what your writing about, research it more. Otherwise, your lack of knowledge will be transparent even to a 9th grader.

Use small words with the least amount of syllables. This is a basic web content premise. The fewer syllables that you use, the less your web reader has to think to digest your information. Try not to make your user think. Spoon feed the information in the cleanest manner possible so they get your meaning with the least amount of distractions. Don’t say “successfully” when “well” will do. As with every rule, there are exceptions.

Do not underline to make a point. Underlined words are It is a convention on the web that underlined words are links. It is irritating to click an underlined word when you think it is a link. Do everything possible to keep your visitors from being irritated, and to keep yourself from looking–well let’s just say, from looking like you don’t know. Don’t underline anything unless it is a link. Use bold to accentuate your main points instead.

The tips above are by no means exhaustive. There are gazillions of techniques and writing tricks that foster online success.  Wise is the web marketer who understands that marketing your business online is a process that can always improve, just like direct sales.  Get these guidelines under your belt and you’ll be a step closer to winning clients, customers and respect online.


This Web Marketing article was written by Jennifer Ryan on 2/28/2005

Jennifer Ryan
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