Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Write for the Internet

Writing for Websites

It is important to remember that the internet is a completely different market to printed publications. Different rules apply and readers are looking for quick answers to their questions. Here are some basic guidelines of how to write effectively for the web.

Choosing Titles and Subtitles
State the subject matter as simply and clearly as possible so the titles and subtitles will be picked up by search engines. If you’re writing about cat behavior, a suitable title would be Domestic Cats and Behavior Problems. Don’t go for word plays or clever titles such as Moggy Misdemeanours as these will not feature if someone is searching for problem cats.

Internet readers prefer short passages of text that summarize facts. This is not the place for long, rambling essays or pages of detail. Make sure your work is accurate and list references or links where appropriate.

It has been said that people read 25% more slowly on the screen as opposed to a printed page. For this reason, it helps to break the article into brief points and separate them with spaces and subtitles. This is easier on the eyes and helps readers to keep their place.

This should be a short paragraph that sums up and confirms the content of the article while ending it off in a satisfying manner.

Depending on the website, there may be a facility to enter keywords and phrases from the article. These are picked up by search engines and can affect the amount of traffic that finds its way to your writing. Going back to the cat example, a suitable phrase could be problems with cats scratching furniture. This will yield better results than cats scratching or cats and furniture. Enter as many phrases as possible that relate directly to your article.

Pictures add interest to your work and if appropriately titled, can also attract traffic. Make sure they are small enough to allow the page to load quickly, even if the reader is on a dial-up connection.

Next week I’ll be looking at some of the online article directories that invite people to submit their writing. I’ll be covering points such as how they work, is it possible to make money from them and the best way to get started? Make a note to pop back next Wednesday and find out if this is something you could do.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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