I’d like to share a few simple online writing tips for creating readable content. That’s because so much online content sucks.
Forget what you learned in school about writing. Today, everything we write is read on a screen.
You have less than six seconds to grab attention.
Academic writing was great for college papers. It doesn’t work online. Here are some things that do:
Article Headlines & Subheads
- Before you write the headline, consider the keywords that people will use in search to find content on that topic.
- Headlines should always be short and descriptive of the story’s key point
- A short subhead can be used to further clarify the heading
- Article headline and subheads should be 60-65 characters, with a maximum of 6 words
- Include at least one keyword in the headline
- Relevance is important for search, so the important keywords should be at the beginning of the headline.
- There should be a subheading – describing the content that follows it – at least every three paragraphs
- It’s good practice to do a Google search to make sure other articles are not using the exact same headline as yours.
- Include Who, what, where, when and why.
- Start with your point
- Be clear
- Big words don’t impress, they annoy
- Be direct. Say what you mean
- Don’t over complicate your prose!
- Sentences should generally not be longer than 10 words
- Paragraphs should not be longer than three sentences
- Readability and simple language are key to search engine optimization
- Use bulleted points
- Do not use “quote marks” unless you are quoting something that someone said
- Longer content will rank higher in search
- For SEO, 800 words is a good length – never less than 600 words
- Anything that is underlined indicates a hyperlink.
- Never underline anything that does not contain a link.
There are some wonderful free tools that will help you improve your writing. Some are free.
- Hemingway App is my favorite. It’s an editor that highlights and corrects grammar, fluency, and sentence structure in order to help your writing read and look better.
- Grammarly is an AI-powered desktop app with comprehensive suggestions for grammar, tone and more.
Yes, I know this post is less than 800 words. :)
B.L. Ochman has been writing and ghost-writing for the web for some 25 years. Her background is journalism and you can see her portfolio here. With experience in verticals from cars to cookies, she’s served brands including Ford Motors, Meijer, Transitions Lenses, Cendant, Simon & Schuster, McGraw-Hill, Stew Leonards and American Greetings. Since 2012, she has been producer and co-host of the award-winning Beyond Social Media Show Podcast. Follow her on Twitter.