Why is Writing for the Web Different than Writing for Print?

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When I say Writing for the Web, I mean all kinds of writing like blog posts, Social Media Writing and traditional copy writing.

It is actually quite obvious that you have to write differently for the web when you just consider the medium. You read differently on the web don’t you?

How People Read on the Web

Here is a thought. When you read a book, you usually look at the cover and start reading the book from front to back (in Western culture). But, when you write for a blog or a website you have no idea where your reader is coming from or where he/she lands. This is all due to the wizardry of search engines and keywords.

Anyway, people don’t read on the Web, they scan. Oh and they only read about 20 percent of what you have posted.  Believe me I also think this is terribly unfair, especially when you go to a lot of trouble to research and craft and article – but that is the way it is!

Reading on Smartphones or Tablets

Also remember, more than half of your readers will access the Web on a device like a tablet or smartphone – the screen is small and they are on the move. People are rushed so they seldom settle in for a long read.

This way of writing also applies to blogs. You can’t just write a story in any old way and put it on your blog and expect it to work for you. You will be thwarted by Google.  And while we’re about it, remember you need to write for two audiences: search engines like Google and for your target readers.

Reading on the Web: Eye tracking Studies

According to Nielsen Norman Group  Eye tracking research shows that people scan web pages and phone screens in various patterns, one of them being the shape of the letter F. If you are interested in how people read online, read this article. Then look at your blog or website and see if the readers are seeing what you want them to see.

I know, when you first look at all the things you need to do to be a successful web/content/blog writer, it can seem intimidating and a bit overwhelming. But there are some techniques and a few tips and tricks which can change your success on the web. You will also have to practice. But it isn’t hard to learn.

Writing to be Found

Search engines are like library assistants, they “catalogue” all the information and then they fetch it when a search query comes through. So you need to write your headlines, intro paragraphs and articles so that search engines can find you.  You also need to make sure that your important information is in the places people see. In other words, you need to write so that you can be found.

And while you are doing this, you should create great, original copy. Google will love you. Your readers will love you and you will succeed as a web writer.

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