Writing for the web is an important and highly relevant skill in today’s digital landscape. With so much information available online, it’s important to make the content on your web page stand out and engage your website readers.
Web writing is completely different from writing for print or writing in traditional settings and formats. There are some key differences between writing for the web and writing for print, and it’s important to consider these differences when crafting your content.
In this comprehensive web guide, we’ve compiled a list of tips and best practices to help you write effectively for the web. From using short, concise sentences and paragraphs to including links to relevant external sources, these tips will help you craft engaging and effective content that resonates with your audience.
Best Tips for Writing for the Web
Following some of the best tips and practices for writing for the web can make your content user-friendly and increase the overall likelihood of engagement from your target audience.
One of the key considerations when writing for the web is the attention span of online readers. Unlike print readers, who may be more inclined to read a lengthy article or report, online readers often skim rather than read every word. To make your content easier to scan and comprehend quickly, it is essential to keep it concise and clear.
Essentially, Web content should be concise and focused on capturing the attention of website visitors quickly, as they may not have a lot of time to spend on your page. It should also be written in plain language so that readers can easily understand it and get relevant information from your page’s content.
So, how can you achieve that?
Let’s explore some of the fundamental areas, including writing style, formatting, and using metadata that you can focus on to improve your writing for the web.
Understand and Write for your Target Audience
First and foremost, understand who your target audience is and who you are exactly writing for.
Understanding your target audience is a crucial aspect of writing for the web. Your target audience is the group of people you are trying to reach with your content, and understanding their needs, interests, and level of expertise can help you craft content that resonates with them.
It can be helpful to research and gather more information about your target audience, including demographics such as age, gender, and location, as well as their interests, needs, and level of expertise. You can also consider using tools like customer personas or audience surveys to get a better understanding of your target audience.
Once you have a clear understanding of your readers, you can then tailor your writing to meet their needs and interests. This can include using language and examples that are relevant to them, as well as addressing their specific questions or concerns.
Knowing what your audience wants and writing for them will ultimately help you to create content that is more relevant, engaging, and effective.
Use short, concise sentences and paragraphs
Using short, concise sentences and paragraphs is important when writing for the web because it makes your content easier to read and understand. As mentioned earlier, online readers tend to skim rather than read word for word, so it’s important to make your content easy to scan.
Here are some tips for writing web content with shorter sentences and paragraphs;
- Keep your sentences short to around 20 words or fewer
- Break long sentences into two or more shorter sentences
- Keep your paragraphs to two to four sentences
- Use simple words and phrases that are easy to understand
- Use headings and subheadings to break up text and make it easier to scan
Short sentences and paragraphs make content more accessible and easier to read. Additionally, headings, bullet points, and numbered lists help break up text and make it easier to scan. This grabs the reader’s attention and helps them easily understand the main points of the content.
Write in the Inverted pyramid style
As opposed to traditional academic writing, which follows a pyramid style, web writing should follow an inverted pyramid style. This means that you should start off with the most important information and then slowly build upon it by adding additional details.
The idea behind using this style is to give readers the most important information first, so they don’t have to search for it in a long narrative or article. By providing key information at the beginning, readers can quickly identify what is relevant to them and decide whether or not they want to continue reading.
This style of writing also gives readers the flexibility to choose how much information they want from your web page. If they are interested in learning more, then they can read further into the content.
Use headings, bullet points, and numbered lists
Using headings, bullet points, and numbered lists can be a very effective way to organize your content and make it easier to read. These formatting tools help to break up your text and make it more visually appealing, which can help engage your readers and keep them interested in your content.
Here are some tips for using headings, bullet points, and numbered lists effectively:
- Use headings to organize your content into sections and sub-sections
- Make your headings descriptive and concise
- Use bullet points to list items or ideas that are related but not necessarily sequential
- Use numbered lists to list items or ideas that are sequential or have a specific order
- Use formatting tools like bold and italics to emphasize important points within your headings, bullet points, and numbered lists
With such essential formatting tools, you can make your content more organized and comprehensible. Additionally, they can make your content more visually attractive and engaging, thus helping to keep your readers engaged.
Use simple and straightforward language
Using simple, straightforward language is important when writing for the web because it helps to make your content more accessible and easier to understand. It’s important to consider the level of expertise and knowledge of your audience when crafting your content.
If you are writing for a general audience, it’s best to avoid using technical terms or jargon that may not be familiar to everyone. Instead, use language that is easy to understand and avoids complex or unfamiliar concepts.
It’s also important to use active voice when writing for the web. Active voice makes your writing more direct and engaging, and it helps to clarify the subject and action in your sentences. Using active voice can also help to make your content more concise and to-the-point.
With simple, straightforward language and active voice, you can make your content more accessible and engaging for your readers.
Use active voice instead of passive voice
Using active voice can greatly improve the effectiveness of your writing. In active voice, the subject of the sentence is performing the action. This makes the sentence more direct and engaging, and it helps to clarify the subject and action in your sentences.
For example, consider the following sentence:
Passive voice: The dish was eaten by the man.
Active voice: The man ate the dish.
In the active voice version of the sentence, the subject (the man) is performing the action (ate). This makes the sentence more direct and easier to understand.
Here are some tips for converting passive voice to active voice:
- Identify the subject and verb in the sentence
- Make the subject the performer of the action (rather than the recipient of the action)
- If the original sentence does not have a clear subject, consider adding one
- Avoid using “by” or “was” phrases
Using active voice thus can make your writing more direct, concise, and engaging. It can help to improve the overall effectiveness of your content and make it more appealing to your readers.
Use subheadings to organize content
Using subheadings is a great way to organize your content and help readers understand the main points of your article. Subheadings break up your text and provide a clear structure to your content, making it easier to read and understand.
When writing subheadings, it’s important to make them descriptive and concise. They should clearly summarize the content that follows and be written in a way that is easy to understand. Subheadings can also be used to highlight key points or ideas in your content, making it easier for readers to find and refer back to them later.
In Practice: If you use WordPress for writing and publishing on the web, use the Gutenberg Headings block and define the heading from H2 > H6 for different sizes.
To write effective subheadings, try using keywords and phrases that accurately describe the content that follows. Avoid using overly long or complex subheadings, as this can make them difficult to read and understand.
Thus subheadings can make your content more accessible and engaging for readers by improving its effectiveness and making it more appealing.
Include links to relevant external sources
Including links to relevant external sources can be a very effective way to provide further information and add credibility to your writing.
By linking to sources such as research papers, news articles, or other reputable websites, you can provide your readers with additional context and support for your ideas.
When including links, it’s important to make sure that they are relevant to your content and come from reputable sources. Avoid linking to sources that are unreliable or untrustworthy, as this can damage the credibility of your content.
To find relevant external sources to include in your writing, try using search engines or databases to find articles, papers, or websites that are related to your topic. You can also consider reaching out to experts or industry leaders for additional information or perspectives.
You can take this article as an example to see how we have linked to several external sources wherever relevant and towards the end as references.
Thus, with relevant links to external sources, you can add depth and credibility to your content and provide your readers with additional resources for further learning. Such writing style can ultimately help to make your content more engaging and informative for your audience.
Use formatting tools like bold and italics
This might be the most basic aspect, but by using formatting tools like bold and italics, you can emphasize important points and make your content easier to read.
Besides, by formatting certain words or phrases, you can draw attention to key ideas and make them stand out from the rest of your text.
To use bold and italics effectively, it’s important to be selective and only format words or phrases that are truly important or need to be emphasized. Overusing formatting tools can make your content appear cluttered and difficult to read.
When deciding which words or phrases to format, consider what you want to emphasize and what will be most helpful for your readers. For example, you might use bold to highlight the main points of your content or to draw attention to important definitions or terms. You might use italics to add emphasis to a word or phrase, or to indicate a foreign word or phrase.
Using the formatting tools like bold and italics effectively, you can thus make your content more engaging and easier to read, and help your readers understand the most important points of your content.
Use images, videos, and other media
Using images, videos, and other media can be a great way to make your content more visually appealing and engaging. By adding media to your content, you can make it more interesting and interactive for your readers, which can help to keep them interested in your content.
When using media in your content, it’s important to make sure that it is relevant to your topic and adds value to your writing. Avoid using media just for the sake of using it, as this can distract from your main points and make your content less effective.
Practice: Find the blocks available in your web editor to insert all kinds of media elements.
To find media to use in your content, you can try searching for images and videos on sites like Flickr or YouTube. Make sure to check the license of any media you use to ensure that you are using it legally. You can also consider creating your own media, such as taking photos or creating videos, to use in your content.
Using multimedia in your content can ultimately make it more visually appealing and engaging for your readers.
Optimize content for search engines
Search Engine Optimization, or optimizing your content for search engines, is an important aspect of writing for the web. By using keywords and phrases relevant to your topic, you can improve the visibility of your content on search engines like Google, which can help more people find and read your writing.
To optimize your content for search engines, it’s important to do keyword research and identify the most relevant keywords and phrases to include in your content.
These should be placed in strategic places within your content, such as in the headline, subheadings, and throughout the body of the text. It’s also important to use variations of your keywords and phrases to help your content rank for a wider range of search terms.
In addition to using keywords and phrases, it’s also important to ensure that your content is well-written and of high quality. Search engines prioritize content that is valuable, informative, and well-written, so it’s important to focus on creating content that meets these criteria.
Thus, writing content that ranks higher on the search engine results page can increase the visibility and reach of your writing, which will ultimately help you to drive more traffic and attract more readers to your content.
Use alt text to describe images
Working with images is another important aspect that you need to master to excel at writing for the web.
Using alt text to describe images is an important aspect of writing for the web, as it helps users who are visually impaired or using devices that do not display images understand what is being depicted in the image. Alt text is also used by search engines to understand the content of images, which can help improve the visibility of your content on search engines.
To write effective alt text, it’s important to describe the content of the image in a concise and straightforward manner. Avoid using vague or irrelevant descriptions, as this can be confusing for users and may not accurately convey the content of the image. It’s also important to keep alt text short, as longer descriptions may be truncated or not displayed in full.
For a practical tip, look out for the Alt Text box while inserting images in the CMS you’re using. For WordPress, when you upload and want to insert an image, you will see the Alt Text Box.
In addition to describing the content of the image, it’s also important to consider the context of the image and how it relates to the rest of your content. This can help users understand the purpose of the image and how it fits into the larger context of your writing.
By using alt text to describe images, you can make your content more accessible and inclusive for all users, as well as improve the visibility of your content on search engines.
Here’re some more tips for the actual writing stage of writing on the web from our partner, Semrush. You can visit Semrush’s content marketplace to hire writers to produce the best web content for you.
Best Tools for Writing for the Web
While this post is primarily about writing tips, it might be helpful for those learning to write on the web to know that there are several useful tools out there that can make the process simple and increase their productivity.
There are different categories of tools available to help you write effectively for the web. You can consider finding the best tools in the following categories;
Grammar and spelling checkers: These tools can help you catch and correct errors in your writing, ensuring that your content is free of errors and easy to read.
Online dictionaries and thesauruses: These tools can help you find the right words and phrases to use in your writing and can be especially useful when you are trying to find synonyms or alternative ways to express a concept.
Project management tools: These tools can help you keep track of your writing projects and deadlines and can also help you collaborate with other writers or editors.
Content management systems (CMS): These tools allow you to create and manage your content on a website or blog and often include features like formatting options, image uploading, and publishing tools.
Here are some of the most popular tools used for writing for the web:
Grammarly – Grammar, Structure and More
Grammarly is one of the most popular tools that can be used to improve the quality and effectiveness of your writing for the web.
It is an online grammar and spelling checker that can help you catch and correct errors in your writing, ensuring that your content is free of errors and easy to read.
Grammarly can be used as a browser extension or as a standalone app, and it works with a variety of platforms, including Microsoft Word and Google Docs. It can also be used to check your writing on social media platforms and email.
Grammarly uses advanced algorithms to analyze your writing and identify errors, and it can provide suggestions for corrections and improvement. It can also help you improve your writing style and clarity by suggesting alternative word choices and phrasing.
Hemingway App – Editing Web Content
Hemingway App is another popular tool used for writing on the web. It is an online writing tool that helps you improve the clarity and readability of your writing.
Hemingway App works by analyzing your writing and identifying areas that may be difficult to read or understand. It can highlight complex sentences, passive voice, and other issues that may make your writing less clear. It can also provide suggestions for improvement, such as rephrasing a sentence or using a simpler word.
In addition to its editing features, Hemingway App also includes a variety of formatting options, such as bold, italics, and headings, which can help you create more visually appealing and engaging content.
Google Docs – Writing and Collaborating on the Web
Google Docs is a powerful and convenient tool for writing on the web and is especially useful for collaborative writing projects.
One of the key features of Google Docs is its ability to allow multiple people to collaborate on a document in real time. This makes it a useful tool for teams or groups working on a writing project together, as everyone can make edits and suggestions in the same document.
Google Docs also includes a range of formatting options, such as headings, lists, and font styles, which can help you create more visually appealing and organized content. It also includes a spell check and grammar check feature to help you catch and correct errors in your writing.
WordPress – Writing and Publishing on the Web
WordPress is another popular tool used for writing on the web. It is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to create and manage a website or blog, and it is widely used by individuals and businesses around the world.
One of the key features of WordPress is its ease of use. It includes a simple and intuitive interface that allows you to create and publish content with minimal technical knowledge. It also includes a range of formatting and styling options, such as headings, lists, and font styles, which can help you create visually appealing and organized content.
In addition to its publishing features, WordPress also includes a variety of plugins and themes that allow you to customize the appearance and functionality of your website or blog. This can include things like adding contact forms, creating image galleries, or integrating social media feeds.
Overall, WordPress is a powerful and flexible web writing tool and is suitable for a wide range of purposes, from personal blogs to eCommerce websites to other business sites.
Start writing effectively for the Web
To summarise, writing for the web is a unique and important skill that every writer should master. It requires a thorough understanding of your audience, the purpose of your content, and the strategies that work best for reaching and engaging readers online.
Whether you are creating blog posts, articles, social media updates, or website content, it is essential to be clear, concise, and engaging in your writing.
By following these best practices for web writing, you can effectively communicate your message and reach a wider audience online.
With practice, you can become an experienced writer and create content that stands out from the crowd.
With these important tips in mind, you are ready to start writing effectively for the web. So go ahead and get started with creating great content that your readers will love!
More Resources for writing for the Web
You can further explore these references and authoritative resources for best practices and writing effectively on the web.