Capturing a larger online audience is a great goal for 2014, and with the right tools and strategies, you can improve your web writing and reach your objectives. What makes web writing different from traditional writing? The people reading it.
Who are these online readers you're trying to reach? More and more, they are on the go. Mobile technology has changed the way people use the Internet. A few years ago, people spent more time reading web writing as if they were reading a magazine or a book. Today, people are reading on smaller screens, and they often look for bite-sized pieces of information, grabbed in a hurry in short windows of time, like on the bus or waiting in line.
Trying to write for such an audience sounds like a nightmare, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, once you get the hang of web writing for 2014, you may enjoy it more than ever before. Here's what to remember:
1. Don't Beat Around the Bush
2014 readers are looking for information, and they have a million places to get it. If you don't give it to them fast, they'll go find what they're looking for somewhere else. This can be liberating to writers. Instead of having to come up with an enlightened-sounding introduction for every topic, just dive in. Say it well, and say it in a fresh way, but say it as quickly as possible.
One way to train yourself to get right to the point is to pretend someone is asking you what your article is about. You have just one sentence to convey the entire idea. Next, right down your summary and see how it sounds. This could be a great first sentence. You may worry that you're giving all of your best information away too soon, that your readers won't want to read the rest, but when you hook them with a power-packed first sentence, they realize that you have plenty to say, and you can use the rest of your piece to elaborate, give personal examples, and explain subtle nuances.
2. Manage Your White Space
Large blocks of dense text are immediate turn-offs to many readers. It looks intimidating. It looks like it's going to take a long time to read, and time is precious to 2014 readers. White space is the space in your writing that is not occupied by any text, and by paying attention to white space you can actually make your writing more intuitive and easier to follow. You can use the following tools to insert white space in your web writing:
- Bullet points
- Numbered lists
- Text boxes and sidebars
Use your white space to your best advantage, remembering that not all of these strategies work well on mobile devices. Too many large images, for instance, can do strange things to the mobile views of some websites and blogs. Always test your website out on different devices to avoid problems.
3. Optimize SEO for Local Searches
One thing that hasn't changed is the need for search engine optimization. Although you may need to be more direct and more aware of white space with 2014 readers, you still need to think about keywords and how your writing will rank with the search engines.
An important result of the growth in mobile technology is the increase in local searches. For example, you're on a business trip and need to find somewhere to eat for lunch, so you search "Mexican food Tampa." You end up eating at the restaurant with the best online reviews. Think about how people will find your business online. Have you optimized your SEO for local searches? Potential customers are out there driving around right now in need of your products and services. Is your web writing helping them to find you? If not, start today to optimize your SEO for local searches.
As you can see, capturing 2014 readers doesn't have to be difficult. Just keep in mind that these readers are in a hurry, on the go, and looking for what you have to offer. Your challenge is to reach them so you can give them what they're looking for. Do them the favor of coming right out and saying it, not cluttering their lives with huge blocks of text, and be sure to optimize your web writing for local searches. When they realize you have what they're looking for, you'll reach your goals as never before.