When you want to get your message across online, there are a few key points to remember. It’s easy to lose visitors in lengthy descriptive prose, so the first rule is:
Keep it short
Just how brief should you be? Well, 400 words are plenty if you are looking for a page full of text. On screen, that’s the maximum you should aim for. If you have more to say, break it down into separate sections and have links to click to the next part.
Next, think about how people look at websites. Most of the time readers scan the screen looking for items of interest. Rule two, therefore, is:
Break it down
Use lists, bullet points and short sentences and sections so readers can see at a glance what might interest them. Cut out wordy descriptions and superlatives, and focus on facts.
You need to grab your reader, so make what you’re writing personal. Think about your target audience and write in a style that will appeal to them, using language that will be clear and easy to understand. The third rule of good web writing is:
Write in a simple style
Once you have written a rough draft, print it out and review it. Can you cut out words and still leave the meaning the same? And can you use a short word instead of a long one?
Before you launch into writing, take a moment to work out what you want readers to remember from the page. Follow rule four, which is:
Focus on your key messages
People are unlikely to remember more than a few points, so work out what are your priorities for that web page. Get your main point across in the first few lines, and then back it up with another couple of supporting points.
And, there’s little point writing if people aren’t going to read what you write. So, the fifth and final rule:
Think “Search Engine”
Many people will come across your site by using a search engine. Use keyword tools to work out what search terms people are looking under, and make sure you use these in your text. Build in relevant links too, and your website will soon be ranking on important search engines.
Follow these rules and you will soon be writing succinct, snappy and memorable web pages, which will show up on search engines and lead people to your site.
About the Author
This article was written by DIY PR expert Antonia Chitty of ACPR