While web content writers must place a high portion of their focus on keywords, headlines and word counts, if the words don’t fully engage the reader then nothing else will likely matter. Humans read web content, and most of those humans are first and foremost in a hurry to resolve a particular situation or problem. Even though they are in a hurry, however, this does not mean that they lose their ability to tell the difference between mediocre writing and writing of the highest quality. Mediocre writing will never bring your readers back time and time again even if everything else happens to be just as it should according to the best practices of web writing.
Ways to Engage Your Web Reader
Most all web content will tell their reader in some way or another to take action and which specific action they should take to reach the resolution they want. Writing in the second person makes your web content more personal to the reader and is a good way to engage them and hold their attention. You want your readers to feel as though you are speaking to them—having a face-to-face conversation nearly. When you speak in a personal manner, and use the words “I” and “you,” your content becomes personalized, therefore more engaging. Since only a very small percentage of web readers actually read an article from start to finish, you must hook your reader immediately following your amazing headline which caught their attention originally. Then, if you want your reader to actually read every word you’ve written, you must ensure it is rich, high quality, and full of valuable information or a creative solution to a problem.
Even if your friends refer to you as Ms. or Mr. Webster, curb the use of more difficult words. Remember that the Internet is full of people from all walks of life and your goal is to benefit each and every one of them. The average reading level for a web reader is between sixth and eighth grade, so keep this in mind while you write. You don’t want those reading your pages to have to haul out the dictionary to determine what you are saying nor do you want them to feel uneducated, so write simple sentences with easy-to-understand terminology. Aside from wanting your web reader to fully comprehend your message, you don’t want to appear as a boastful or self-important writer, so bring the word level down a bit in order to keep your readers fully engaged.
Writing for the Reader Who Scans
The majority of web readers scan content rather than reading an entire page in the traditional left-to-right fashion. In fact, web readers tend to read from center to left to right, scanning quickly down the page in order to determine whether or not the solution they are seeking is available. Using point form in your web content writing can help your readers scan quickly through a page. Point form includes the use of sub headings, bulleted lists, numbers and the judicious use of bold words. This is not to say that everything you write should contain a bulleted list—use them when appropriate and when you feel they will allow you to make an important point your readers might otherwise miss.
If you find your subject does not lend itself to bulleted lists, then keep your paragraphs short and sweet, focusing on one point for each paragraph. Try using the inverted pyramid style of writing, meaning your most important point will come first, followed by less important information. Don’t forget to add some humor to your writing and you will be able to fully engage your web reader, possibly even ensuring they will read to the very end of your page.