7 Common Web Writing Mistakes, And How To Fix Them

    As the former editor of an online news portal, I’ve edited a lot of web writing in my time and seen the same mistakes occur time and again from writers on different continents. These 7 mistakes are the most common, and seeing them creates the sense that your writing is less than authoritative and readable. To get an editor to choose your content over another writer’s work, use these tips to deliver well-written copy that avoids typical problems:

    Mistake #1: Not Creating a Draft Outline

    “Just do it” might work for Nike, but it’s not the way to go about web writing if you want to make it a career. You’ll find yourself losing focus and rambling, unsure of what you’re trying to achieve with the piece, going off on tangents and not fulfilling the topic or title.

    Fix this by:

    • Listing the key points you want to cover
    • Identifying who your target audience is for the specific piece of writing
    • Defining your purpose for writing it, i.e. what do you want the reader to do as a result of reading.

    Mistake #2: Taking Too Long to Get to the Point

    Good web writing needs to get to the point immediately. Never mind that long lede that comes to mind when you sit down to write without an outline (see Mistake #). Unless you tell the reader what to expect, he has no good reason to make the effort to read your piece.

    Fix this by:

    • Outlining succinctly for the reader what you are going to write about, in the first 100 words
    • Stating in the first one-third of the piece what its promise is and what the content can do for the reader
    • Establishing your authority on the topic, i.e why you or your client are qualified to write it.

    Mistake #3: Not Staying on Topic

    When you try to cover too many aspects of an issue you risk going off topic. I often come across web writing that starts out on one topic and ends up on another—or so it seems to the reader. The writer might have intended to create a relationship between the two issues, but failed to make that clear enough along the way.

    Fix this by:

    • Creating your draft outline before you begin to write
    • Checking what you write against your title every step of the way
    • Breaking up complex topics into two or more posts, instead of trying to cover them in a single piece

    Mistake #4: Using Unfriendly Formatting

    Big bad blocks of text are enough to put most readers off your web writing. I’ve lost count of how often I’ve landed on pages that don’t guide readers, and therefore they miss good opportunities for engaging their attention.

    Fix this by:

    • Using subheads, bullet and numbered lists
    • Separating aspects of the topic into different sections to avoid confusion

    Mistake #5: Being Long-Winded and Wordy

    There’s nothing wrong with writing a long piece if it makes sense, but the moment your reader has to go back and re-read to understand something you’ve lost his interest.

    Fix this by:

    • Using plain, everyday language instead of jargon
    • Keeping sentences to less than three lines of text, with not more than one comma in each
    • Writing paragraphs with a maximum of four sentences in them
    • Employing direct, active voice wherever possible

    Mistake #6: Missing the Call-to-Action (CTA)

    No matter how good your web writing is, unless you tell readers clearly what their next step is and how to take it you’ve wasted their time reading your post.

    Fix this by:

    • Including a clear CTA at various points in the copy, not just at the end
    • Using banner CTAs rather than text hyperlinks. They are less likely to appear as duplicate content in search, which could result in penalization.

    Mistake #7: Not Proofreading Before Delivery

    It’s so easy to make a mistake and not see it yourself, which is why so many clients employ editors to review all web writing content before publishing it. Editors don’t want to have to fix typos, however, so make sure that when you submit copy it’s been checked carefully for obvious mistakes.

    Fix this by:

    • Letting your work “rest” for a few hours before re-reading it to check for typos and errors
    • Making corrections before submitting it, instead of having to send hasty emails to the editor with revisions attached.

    Avoid all these mistakes by taking the time to plan your writing beforehand and then executing it in a steady, logical manner.

    Topics: website content - web site copywriting - web writing - web writer - web copywriting

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