Writing for the Web Best Practices

10 Tips for Writing for Mobile – Post Mobileggedon

Now that we are a few months past ‘Mobileggedon’ – how did your sites fare with the algorithm update? Back in February, Google’s Webmaster Central blog made this announcement:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices. (Full blog post here)

Luckily, none of my sites were impacted greatly in the search results.  When I first heard of the news, I was a bit concerned about this ‘deadline’ / ‘ultimatum’.  When I thought more on it – it just makes plain sense!  If you don’t already have a mobile-friendly site set up, you are causing your customers so much hassle (and lots of unnecessary scrolling, zooming & wishing for tinier fingers).  On that note though, having a mobile-friendly site is not enough to ensure a pleasant site visit.  One of the important factors you have to consider is that content consumption is different on a mobile device.  If you haven’t already explore Thinking with Google’s research on Micro Moments, head over now for some great insight. In short, mobile search is more purposeful – the ‘Is-it-worth-it moments’ to ‘show-me-how moments’ to ‘ready-for-a-change moments’ are all ‘inspired moments’ that are mostly on-the-go.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

If your business receives a lot of mobile search, you have to make sure the content on your site is mobile-friendly and conducive to the ‘moment’ your audience is conducting their search. A restaurant for example, might want to make their menu easily accessible on their website. Not only that, knowing site visitors might be visiting on their mobile devices, they might want to not make their menu a downloadable PDF file (just saying!) Here are a few more pointers on writing for mobile:

  1. Write a Compelling Headline – think of what your customers will be searching for and write headlines that satisfies their needs. This will draw them in to either make contact or dig deeper. Keep your headlines short – 55 characters or less as guideline.
  2. Use Sub Headlines – readers consumer content in chunks so guide them through the page with informative sub headlines. Even better if they make sense on their own!
  3. Deliver Content in Bite-Size Bits – each section under a sub headline should be concise as well!
  4. Make Your Content Skimmable – remember that smaller screens will make even the smallest paragraphs seem long winded.  After writing your content, edit and refine to make sure your content is as concise as it can be.  Use bullet lists, bolded or italicized text to bring focus to important points.
  5. Keep Your Most Important Information at the Top – according to Content Marketing Institute, users give 68% of their attention to the center and top half of a mobile page, and a full 86% to the upper two-third. Below that point, they tend to lose focus and concentration.
  6. Use Images Wisely – people love to look at pictures. When given a choice between images or text, most reader’s eyes will gravitate towards the images. Images also take up a lot of space (something you don’t have a lot of on mobile). So – before you add images alongside your text, think about whether it will be a distraction or enhancement to your content.
  7. Be as Concise as Possible –  Edit, edit and then edit some more! Writing for mobile is not just about using fewer words, it is about writing better. That means getting rid of unnecessary filler words and phrases.
  8. Leave Spaces Between Links – if you are adding links to your writing, be sure to leave enough room in between so that your users can accurately select the link they want. (Not all of us have tiny, delicate fingers…)
  9. Remember Your Keywords – SEO is still important, even if you are writing for mobile. Remember to include your keywords for SEO purposes.
  10. Don’t Rely on Design – with all the different phones we have out there, what is ‘above’ the fold on an iPhone 6 might not be in the same spot on a Samsung Galaxy. The point is, don’t rely on design to position your content where you want. It will be impossible to satisfy all the screen sizes out there!

If you haven’t thought about your mobile content – now is a great time to get started!

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Writing for the Web in an Age of Short Attention Spans

Write Effectively for the Web

As marketers, we all know the mantra “Content is King”.   Everywhere we look, we are told that original content is the key to marketing success in 2014.  9 out of 10 organizations  already market with content and believe that content creation is the single most effective SEO tactic.

So with all the time we spend on creating original content, we have to make sure what we are putting out on the web is valuable, interesting and most importantly, engaging and share-worthy.  Part of keeping the readers’ attention is to write and structure your piece in a way that can be read and understood quickly.  To that end, we can apply the techniques of Macrowriting to our writing for the web.

Macrowriting is a writing style that focuses on the “big picture” and the message as a whole.  This style of writing is ideal for when you want to get your point across quickly and effectively – which is precisely what you want to do when you write for the web.  Here are a few techniques for Macrowriting:

High Skim Value

Structure your piece so that readers can easily skim through or refer to certain sections easily. Make sure of headings and subheadings to group ideas together or to emphasize certain words or phrases.

Clear and Logical Progression of Ideas 

As your readers are scanning through the copy, use the headings and different sections of the piece to help them move from one idea to the next.  Provide linkage between sections so they can understand the ties between them and understand reasoning.   Use white space and paragraphs to break up your content visually.  Divide text into shorter blocks of 150 – 200 words if possible.  Keep paragraphs short with 5 sentences or less.

Basic Grammar & Writing Style

Write is writing – no matter the medium.  Good writing still requires organized thoughts, grammatically sound and well structured sentences.  Avoid run on sentences and edit for brevity.  On the web, writing is expected to be less formal and more personable so speak in a voice that will appeal to your audience.

Make it Easy to Share

If you want your readers to share your content – well, make it easy for them to share! Install the “sharing” feature on your blogs or the Pinterest plug-ins if your content is predominantly image-driven.  Keep in mind that your readers may choose to share your content across social media, so include an image with your content if it is possible to encourage click throughs and social shares.

At the end of the day, content creation is not an easy task and requires a frequent investment of time and effort.  If you are creating content for your website, keep your audience in mind and write in a way that will appeal to them!

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