Reading online is very different from reading a physical copy of something and if you want to keep your audience interested and engaged you need to know what they expect from an online article.
Hopefully, everyone who writes online already understands that ‘Content is Key’ (Click Baiters excluded) but there’s no point in writing killer copy if you don’t give any consideration to how your audience will want it presented.
Although every article will be slightly different, there is a basic set of rules you can follow to make your words a little more digestible when consumed on the internet.
Write a Killer Headline
Research into the effectiveness of headlines at Upworthy has shown that the writing of this one-line summary (unless you’re the Daily Mail) can affect traffic by up to 500%.
A headline is often the first piece of content people read. And often it is the ONLY thing people read” – Hoa Loranger.
Writing effective online headlines is something that gets easier with time and practice, but it will always be part of your article that demands extra attention.
Make sure your headline:
- Works out of Context
- Is Clear & Concise
- Is Specific
The Importance of a Strong Lead
If you’re already trained in the ways of news writing, you’ll already be aware of the much-discussed inverted pyramid approach to writing, where the author front loads their “A lead is a promise. It promises that the piece of writing is going to be like this” – John McPhee. By front loading your article with key information and spelling out (or enticing) your readers with what’s to come the chances of them reading your article will be increased. Writing a good lead is much like writing a good headline. You should keep it short, think about which aspects of the article you want to put your focus and be specific.
Make your Content Scannable
What was the first thing you did when you opened this article? Be honest…you skimmed through to see how long it is and checked if anything caught your eye…right? Don’t worry though, this is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact it’s one of the very few well-documented facts about web use. Due to the amount of content now available, the time in which we have to consume it and our dwindling attention spans, people don’t want to commit precious minutes to anything that might not be a worthy investment. “In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word” – Jacob Nielson. To make content scannable for your readers, be sure to; Keep paragraphs short, Breaking text into easily digestible chunks (also known as “chunking”) & Highlight key info through the use of headings, subheading, blockquotes, italics & bold text.
Put Hyperlinks to good use
The hyperlink is often an underused commodity in the world of writing for the web, with writers sometimes seeming scared to link out as it could be seen as distracting. However, not only is the good old hyperlink really the staple of the internet, and essentially one of the major factors that separates it from print, but used right it can be an effective tool when writing for the web. To put the hyperlink to work for you, why not use it to; Add Depth to your Article, Prove your Point, Provide Attribution & Promote other Articles