Writing for the web is an exercise in restraint and discipline. Why, you ask? Well let me tell you.
Cut the waffle
You need to be short, sharp and sweet – all at once. The internet is not the place to try out your freeform writing techniques and to write endless sentences with no punctuation that meander from point to point without actually making a point and in the end dwindle off into unread nothingness.
On the web, people don’t have time to read. If you’re not grabbing attention from the get-go, you’re going nowhere.
Keywords are key
This is one of the most difficult aspects of web writing to get right. You need to stuff as many keywords and key phrases into your articles as possible. So, for example, if you’re writing about the ‘artificial insemination of hippos’, you need to drop the words ‘artificial’ ‘insemination’ and ‘hippos’ into your article as much as possible, as well as any other related phrases to the point where it almost feels awkward.
But not quite. Because the more keywords you have, the better your chances of Google finding you, the better your chances of being read.
Look at me, I’m a sub-heading
Keeping your paragraphs short is just as important as keeping your sentences short. The rule of thumb is to try keep one thought per paragraph. Where sub-headings come in handy is that they renew a reader’s interest (just in case they think your story is beginning to lose its sheen). They’re also easy to scan to see if an article is actually worth reading.
Put in clever clickable links
Never use the words click here. Not only is it soooo early-Noughties, it detracts from the flow of what you’re saying, and exposes readers to clicking blindly at a link that might lead them to some dodgy spam site.
It’s best to ensure your hyperlinks continue the flow of your sentence. So if you’re linking to an article about the artificial insemination of hippos… well, that example should be self-evident.
You’re visible on the web!
As any wannabe writer knows, apart from your parents and a few close friends, hardly anyone gets to read your writing. Even if you strike it big and get an article published in Playboy magazine, nobody will read it. (Despite arguments to the contrary, people who read Playboy are only looking at the pictures).
But on the web, it’s a whole different story. If you’ve posted a few blogs about your mental suffering as a teenager due to acne; if you’ve written 50 Shades of Grey fan fiction; hell, even if you’ve penned a particularly abrasive piece of correspondence about e-tolls for a newspaper, chances are people will read your stuff. Especially if you’ve used your keywords wisely.
So the eyes are out there. They can even be turned into cash-money, if you’re savvy enough. So my advice would be to get started. Take a course on web writing. Be seen and be heard and be read.
And be nice out there. Nobody likes a troll.