People add content to the web for a variety of reasons. Users that only occasionally update a personal blog may not be too concerned about the quality of their writing. However, people that write website content, blog posts, Tweets, Facebook posts or emails with the purpose of marketing a business need to be able to create Internet content that will help them engage and maintain customers. Surefire ways to improve your web writing include simplicity, style, keyword usage and correct grammar.

Keep It Simple

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” This Shakespeare quote, as any graduate of one of the top accredited online writing schools will tell you, basically means that people will respect you for not wasting their time. Typical Internet users do not click on a link and expect the destination page to look like a technical manual. They also don’t usually expect to end up on an extremely flashy page that’s full of moving graphics and distracting sounds. Most users that find themselves in either of these situations will immediately hit the “back” button or conduct a different search. To prevent this from happening, remember to keep things simple while you’re writing your new blog entry or creating a post for a social media outlet.

Format – According to the Yahoo Style Guide, most Internet readers scan an article before reading it. They do this mainly to see if the content is relevant, useful and worth their time. This usually involves reading headings and subheadings as well as looking at images. Using this fact, we can discern some surefire ways to improve your web writing through format simplicity:

1. Write shorter paragraphs – Large blocks of uninterrupted text can look daunting to a reader. Try to keep every paragraph at a 3-4 sentence maximum.

2. Write shorter sentences – Internet readers appreciate clear, concise writing. Overly verbose text will often cause a reader to look elsewhere.

3. Use white space – Having a decent amount of empty space around blocks of text and subtitles allows the content to look clean and scannable.

4. Don’t overuse images – A page that is overly stuffed with pictures, moving graphics and imbedded videos can be a big turnoff for a reader. Be tasteful with image selection and get some second opinions.

5. Use many subheadings – Organize your information and break up the sections for easier scanning.

6. Make use of bolding – Bold important phrases within text to make them stand out.

Another way to simplify format is to use numbered or bulleted lists. Consider this sentence: “The four Ps of marketing are product, price, promotion and place.” Writing in this way can lead to overly long sentences. More importantly, this information is probably desired by a user that is just doing a quick look-up and expects to see the information immediately on the destination page. If the information is buried within the text, the reader will leave and go to a site that more quickly gives them what they need. For these reasons, it would be better to write this:

The four Ps of marketing are:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

Text Appearance – The best Internet content ever written could be destroyed by poor font and color choices. Readers will take the time to scan clean-looking professional content, while text that is hard to read, hurts the eyes, or is too small will surely turn anyone away. Simple black text with a white background can seem boring for a blog, but with the addition of some colorful subheadings and tasteful images/graphics, the page will look inviting to any reader. Harsh combinations such as white text on a bright red background will definitely deter people from your site.

Here are some eye-friendly Internet fonts:

  • Georgia
  • Arial
  • Veranda
  • Bookman Old Style
  • Times New Roman

Style and Grammar

It may seem obvious, but the content on your page needs to be well written. Even something as short as a Twitter post must be written in a way that is clear and makes sense. It is also important to keep your target audience in mind.

Establish an Objective – Who are you trying to reach? What is the purpose of this article or post? Who makes up your audience? Ask yourself these questions before starting to write in order to determine the style. For example, if you’re trying to market the latest designer sunglasses to a young demographic on Facebook, it may be alright to use some humor, hyperbole, current pop culture references or well known acronyms in your writing. However, this type of writing will not work when attempting to market a product to an older demographic through email. In general, a professional yet personable tone is preferred for most situations.

Another important part of developing good style includes creating catchy and interesting headlines or titles. The post title that appears on Facebook or Twitter should engage the reader and should stand out among the potentially hundreds of other posts he or she will see that day.

Grammar – Internet readers notice a certain level of writer skill when determining if a post is authoritative or worth reading. The content must rise above the quality of things like forum posts or everyday, personal Tweets. Here are some surefire ways to improve your web writing by using better grammar:

1. Avoid too much punctuation – Run-on sentences or incorrect comma splices can muddle the sentence’s intent. Again, keep sentences short and clear.

Wrong: Marketing on Twitter can be difficult, you need to know how to obtain followers, and create an effective presence.
Right: Marketing on Twitter can be difficult. You need to know how to obtain followers and create an effective presence.

2. Avoid common mistakes – Make sure you’re using the correct version of there/their/they’re, your/you’re, or it’s/its. These types of common mistakes are a red flag for discerning Internet users.

3. Write in the active voice – Active writing involves having the subject of a sentence perform an action, rather than being acted upon. This allows for clear, direct writing.

Wrong: When she saw the Twitter post, she became interested in the product.
Right: She became interested in the product when she saw the Twitter post.

4. Don’t try to impress the reader – The use of archaic or overly lofty language can make a reader lose interest and can make you sound pretentious. Aim to simply communicate – not to impress.

5. Proofread – Read your completed post and make sure there are no typos, missing words or confusing sentences. Get a different person to proofread and edit your post as well.

6. Avoid useless content – Text that is too vague or does not provide any new information can clutter up the post.

Basic SEO Tips

Search engine optimization, in very basic terms, involves using specific keywords within a post in order for it to rank highly in search engine results. This is a very important aspect of web writing that can often lead to poor content when attempted incorrectly. Here are some surefire ways to improve your web writing through better SEO keyword usage:

1. Use variations of your keyword phrase – If you’re writing a blog post that you would like to rank for the phrase “new fashion trends,” make sure to use similar phrases such as “latest fashion trends,” “new fashion trend,” and “new trends in fashion.”

2. Use keyword phrases naturally – A reader will not take a post seriously if it clearly has keywords awkwardly stuffed into it. Also, the use of too many of the same keyword phrases over and over tells the reader that the post is not of high quality. Find natural places to insert the keyword phrase(s) while you’re writing the post instead of turning the post into nonsense by stuffing in keywords later.

3. Keyword placement – It’s advantageous to place the keyword phrase within the title and subheadings where possible. It’s also beneficial for them to appear within links and metadata.

4. Original content – A search engine also looks for quality, original content. Be sure your web writing is 100% unique and is useful to a reader.
Michael Cash is a twenty something freelance writer and internet consultant residing in western Michigan. When he’s not coaching people out of 1990s era web practices, amateur astronomy and hiking take up his time. A completely random fact about Michael is that he used to “ghost hunt” as a youngster.