Strategy Bytes: Writing for Web

Andrew Amundson
Andrew Amundson
- 4 min read

Writing for Web


Reading Time: 4 minutes

Episode Syllabus

Did you not do well in English class back in the day? No worries — Andrew and Lisette and here to educate you on the finer points of writing for the web, from best practices for SEO to how George Orwell’s original ‘Six Rules of Writing’ still resonates today.

Podcast Transcript

ANDREW

To make robust user engagements with the end user more robust, we have implemented a 3rd party integration facilitation that integrates and looks to find what are the needs of our various audiences so that conversions can be more.

LISETTE

Don’t write like this.

ANDREW

Our new API’s allow us to engage more with the end user and learn from our audiences, ultimately leading to more conversions.

LISETTE

Write like this.

ANDREW

Welcome back to Strategy Bytes, our mini-pod of digital tips and tricks. She’s —

LISETTE

Lisette. And he’s —

ANDREW

Andrew.

LISETTE

We’re digital content strategists here at WDG and this week we’ll be discussing something near and dear to anyone involved with content — Writing for the Web.  Andrew, did you know that people still read and write?

ANDREW

Wait, what?! That’s crazy — I thought peeps stopped doing that back in ‘08.

LISETTE

Yes, it’s true — even though audiences love a site to work and look pretty, they do actually read what’s written on the page. Well, there’s a caveat — most users scan text more than they read it, but still — words matter, and well-written content that’s well positioned will lead to better SEO and more conversions. Before we get into the finer points of writing in general, there are some web-specific tips you should be aware of. Andrew?

ANDREW

Oh, I go now? Right. When writing for the web, keep the following in mind: long-form content should be around 500 – 800 words. Writers used to get paid by the word, now they get paid to fall within the right range. If the content’s too brief it’ll hurt your SEO and if it’s too long, well, no one will read it. #millennials

LISETTE

Even if your content is the right length, you need to break it up, people. A crazy long paragraph on a page is kryptonite for reading online. Paragraphs should be around five sentences and broken up with headers or H2’s. Ensure that your headers convey the right information, incorporate keywords, and have some punch to them. As much as you want to play by Google’s rules, you also just want to grab someone’s attention. Speaking of which …

ANDREW

Oh, I’m on it this time. Listeners, do you think you read at an 8th-grade level? Or did that just offend you? Most of us would like to this we’re more intellectually advanced than middle schoolers — and hopefully, we are — but no matter how much of a genius you might be, most people prefer text that’s roughly at an 8th grade/9th-grade level. If you’re really smart, you’ll be sure to strike the right balance of not dumbing down the material while also not talking over the audience’s head.

LISETTE

What grade level do you read at, Andrew?

ANDREW

Solidly 3rd grade.

LISETTE

Once you have these basic technical techniques down, it’s time to get to the actual writing. Andrew, you used to be an English teacher — what nuggets do you have to share?

ANDREW

Know the exit route in the event of a fire alarm — oh, in terms of the writing. Always write in a clean, clear, concise, conversational way. Use an active voice. You don’t have to say, “Our organization believes in efficiency.” Just say, “We’re efficient.” Wasn’t that more efficient? And try not to be needlessly redundant. Don’t say, “This project is our favorite project of all our projects, including recent projects.” Just say, “this is our favorite project.” And please, inject some life in your text with the wordplay that’s at your disposal: alliteration, metaphor, simile, double entendre, hyperbole, elegant variation. If you don’t know what these words mean, I must not have been your English teacher.

LISETTE

How you write is crucial and one should always consider one’s audience when writing, as they’re the ones that will be reading it. One’s tone should always be a top consideration: do you want your content to be —

ANDREW

Funny?

LISETTE

Authoritative?

ANDREW

Casual?

LISETTE

Approachable?

ANDREW

Or serious as (beeped out).

LISETTE

Whoa, Andrew.

ANDREW

Sorry.

LISETTE

It’s okay … Andrew and I are fans of George Orwell’s original six rules for writing. The basic tenants of his still hold up but we have an updated list that encapsulates the do’s and don’ts when putting words together on the internet. And so … The Six Rules of Writing for 2019. Number one: never use a cliched tech buzzword if you can avoid it.

ANDREW

Number two: never use an emoji when an actual word will do.

LISETTE

Number three: always spell out an obscure acronym first.

ANDREW

Number four: never let autofill decide for you.

LISETTE

Number five: never use a bourgeois term when a basic one will do.  

ANDREW

Number six: Break any of these rules sooner than sounding like an outright troll.

LISETTE

So Andrew if the number one rule is avoiding tech cliches, what are some that come to mind?

ANDREW

Oh, I don’t know …

LISETTE

Key Performance Indicator.

ANDREW

Robust.

LISETTE

Mobile-first.

ANDREW

Cutting-edge.

LISETTE

Out-of-the-box.

ANDREW

Thought-leader.

LISETTE

Functional.

ANDREW

Intuitive.

LISETTE

Interactive.

ANDREW

A clean, fresh aesthetic.

LISETTE

So class, in summation — when writing for the web, make sure your content is between 500-800 words, break it up with impacting headers, and gear the content towards an 8th-grade reading level.

ANDREW

Be concise and clear. Try to avoid cliches. And really ask yourself, ‘Would my audience enjoy reading what I just wrote?”

LISETTE

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be diving more into content and the strategy around it, culminating in our interview with Content Strategy Expert Carrie Hane. So Andrew … feel like reading?

ANDREW

Oh word, I’m going to scan this transcript later.

 

 

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