Know Your Audience: Writing for the Web

 So, what is the first step to successful communication? Knowing who your audience is. No writer can afford to overlook the reality that writing for the web is very different from what you learned in high school English class. And, if you don’t want to be a voice in the wilderness, you need to know your audience and what they want from you.

Who is your audience? 

Writing for the web means engaging two different types of visitors. There’s your human visitor, vital to the success of whatever business your website is promoting, and then there are the Bots.

Bots are the ambassadors of the algorithms; they’re out there collecting information and sending it back to the mother ship – the search engine. Algorithms allow the search engine to reply to the customers’ needs, those humans who use the service to find answers.

However you got here, I have to give you something priceless to consume. OK, maybe not always earth-shattering but full of value. My purpose is to answer your questions or concerns. The information you find here must be helpful.

Bots crawl around the web, gathering the pages with pertinent, helpful content, and scurry back to home base with their findings. It’s for this reason that content is still king! Quality content is vital to successful communications if you are writing for the web.

Keywords are one of the ways the bots find what they’re looking for. So when writing for the web, your content must use keywords to be seen by search engines. But it’s no good just stuffing your landing pages or articles with keywords!

There’s a right way and a wrong way. The right way will get you a steady and growing stream of visitors but do it wrong, and your website will take a knock!

Mistakes, I’ve made a few. 

Long ago, the whole of the internet knew about Penguin and Panda, Google’s terrible twins. Sites using underhanded tactics were heavily penalized, dropping out of sight, literally overnight.

But that’s all in the past, and you’re not going to make those dirty tricks your own. You’ve worked too hard on your website and business to compromise your standards.

It all starts with the content. The search engines love quality content; the bots love quality content. Have something to say and make it worthwhile; answer problems for your readers. Address their concerns. Entertain them. Writing for the web means writing for others.

The big easy 

Make the content easy to read. Not the language, per se – but writing for the web is all about scan-ability. Your visitor’s time is precious. They’re busy people, so make your writing accessible. Don’t overwhelm the reader with big blocks of solid text – walls they must climb just to get to the good stuff.

Break it down so the eye can quickly pick up the relevant information and move on to the next point. Give that material the correct headings. Search engines love headings, so be sure yours are correctly formatted as in h1, h2, h3, and, if necessary, h4 and h5.

Enhance the calm 

When writing for the web, don’t forget the importance of white space, those blank patches where the human eye can rest. White space on the page or post will keep the visitor reading there longer. The judicious use of white space helps the clean, uncluttered look of the best websites.

For the same reason, bullet points and numbered lists are prevalent. Organize the content in such a way that the reader can quickly scan it. If they need this, they’ll read, but if not, they can move on. Your visitor engagement will improve because people will come back, over and over to a place where they find value.

Make it pretty 

Something overlooked when writing for the web is the importance of an image. We’re visual creatures, us humans. Disagree? Then explain please why Pinterest and Instagram are so enormously popular.

An eye-catching image will add plenty of visitor-appeal to your website. Well-chosen pictures enhance the message the content is conveying. And you can optimize images for your keywords because images are content too. Read more about optimizing your images here.

Writing for the web is all about engaging with your audience. But don’t just take my word for it. Spend a few minutes working out why your favorite sites are favorites.

Examine the posts and articles. Please take a good look at the way they’re presented. What appeals to you will appeal to others. And don’t be afraid to be critical; like most things, websites aren’t perfect. Surely, yours can be improved also.

What do you appreciate about a website?