Writing for the web to keep your audience engaged

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Writing for the web

Graphic by Brandon Andersen

Writing for the web is tough. Your audience is distracted and you need to make your story stand out.  Here are 10 web writing guidelines that keep your audience engaged.

1. Keep it short

Most people on the web scan your page. They don’t read it. Usability expert Steve Krug says that you should write your web copy and then cut it in half. Once you’re done cutting it in half, cut it in half again.

Get to the point because every 100 extra words only gets 4.4 seconds of attention. So make those words count! 

2. Keywords go at the beginning of your headline

Your keyword should be the thing people came to read about. Make sure people can spot it quickly so they’ll stay on the page. This is a common mistake bloggers make.

3. Break information into sections

You’re not writing a thesis or a literary novel. Break things up into sections to make them easier to digest. Break up long paragraphs by keeping them to just a few sentences each.

4. Write sub-headlines that are direct

People are scanning your content. Use sub-headlines that are direct to grab your audience’s attention at a glance.

5. Incorporate relevant facts & figures

Quick facts are easy to digest and share with others. It adds a level of engagement to your content and gives the audience something to remember. By the way, people read 25% slower on a screen compared to print.

6. Break up content with visuals

A visual can convey a lot more than just words. Use them to clarify points and break up blocks of content.

7. Use lists

  • Lists are easy to scan and digest
  • They give order to the content
  • Bulleted lists are easier to read than comma separated lists
  • Lists call out important details

8. Get to the point

Think inverted pyramid. Hook your audience in the first paragraph by telling them what the page is about.

9. Lose the jargon

Use terms that your customers and prospects will know. Jargon confuses people and can lose their attention quickly.

10. Link to your other content

Referencing an old article on how to write an optimized press release? Link to it.


About Brandon Andersen

Brandon is the Director of Marketing at Cision US. In his role, Brandon leads Cision’s US marketing team and develops strategies for engaging marketing and PR professionals. He is a host of the popular Cision Webinar series, and blogs about everything from inbound/content marketing tactics to future trends in communication and technology on Cision Blog. Find him on Twitter @brandonchicago

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