In a world where more content is generated every day than in all of
history up until just a few years ago, content authors must not only
instanty grab attention, but maintain engagement for at least long enough
to successfully deliver their message.
At Hub Communications Digital content is a big part of our daily life and
we've learned a thing or two about writing engaging content for your
Picture Web Readers as Wild Animals
In the article Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People
Leave Your Site Faster, Jakob Nielsen at the Nielsen Norman
Group likens readers to 'wild animals gathering food' who are looking
for the 'maximum benefit for minimum effort' while
searching the Web for information.
Jacob describes the term 'Information Foraging' as the process of
hunting for information and 'Information Scent' as the process of
tracking or following the trail to the information they are hunting
By considering this analogy, writing with the informavore's
navigation behaviour in mind, you will improve the chances of
catching the reader.
Spend Time on the Headline
The headline is the most important part of the article.
Authors tend to focus more on the body of the article, putting a
simple headline or title at the top. However, for the reader, the
headline is their first sniff of the information scent.
Typically on the web links to articles are the headline, which the
reader uses to determine the relevance to their search for
Headlines must inform the reader of the subject of the article,
arouse their curiosity, encourage them to continue reading and be
short and memorable, all in one line.
While there is no perfect formula, there is evidence that six worded
headlines have been found to be the most effective.
Use Simple Language
Writing for the Internet is very similar to writing for a newspaper
or a magazine. The use of abstruse (hard to understand) words that
are not part of everyday language will distract the reader (as just
Even if you include hyperlinks to the definition of words that you
have used, the simple act of wondering what a particular word or
sentence means can distract the reader and break the flow of their
Unless your audience are academics looking for peer-reviewed
journals, your readers will quickly lose interest and find something
easier to read.
Follow the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing
A popular technique among journalists is the inverted pyramid writing
style - putting the most important information at the top of the
article and expanding upon the idea as you move down.
Try to imagine your average reader as someone who is late for work in
the morning, but really wants to know what is in your article, and
write your copy accordingly.
Include the most important information in your opening paragraphs
instead of having the reader go through an entire page.
Pick Your Key Words
Writing for the Internet is not just about writing interesting copy.
You must also make sure that your content is search engine friendly.
As an author, you need to consider the keywords of the topic you are
writing about, and incorporate them into your writing to give your
content the greatest visibility on the web.
Some forethought is important however, as some search engines
penalise the misuse of keywords, such as using unqualified or
unrelated keywords, or using them too frequently.
Write for Easy Flow Reading
Write content that can be skimmed through quickly whilst still
delivering the important details easily.
Readers want the answer to their question immediately, so give it to
them and make it clear, but reward those that take the time to read
deeper by expanding upon what the reader would otherwise take away
just from skim-reading.
Stick to a single idea per paragraph or use bullet points to separate
out the ideas in long paragraphs.
Write Accurate Information
One of the most important aims for any author must be the use of
Don't underestimate the ability of your readers to independently
verify claims made by you in your article. Only provide them with
well researched and factual content.
If you learn that information in an old article has become incorrect,
add a correction into the article or write a new article with
Make Sharing the Article Easy
While following the steps above will make a tasty article for the
'informavore', making the article easy to share will add the cherry
Add tools to allow readers to easily quote paragraphs of text from
your article and post to their social media platform of choice.
Provide the means for the reader to easily create a link to your
article, or e-Mail the link to a friend.
While writing for the web might be different from writing a book, or an
essay; with continuous practice, authoring web content can become as easy
as catching fish in a tank.
Keep the above points in mind when writing your next article and you are
on your way to creating quality content for your website.