Writing Content For Online Readers

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Many writers still think that writing online to attract readers is pretty much the same as writing hard copy for a direct mail piece.
Unfortunately they are wrong.
How does online writing differ? For an online writer the most important difference is the reader's mindset.
An online reader skip reads or skims content for relevancy and will search out the information they want whereas a hard copy reader is more leisurely and often meanders in their reading, spending more time on each page.
When writing online the geography of the offering also needs to be accounted for.
Are you writing for a localised website or a national ezine or even a global site? The tone and content will alter dramatically for each.
What makes it even more interesting to write online is that the elements of a direct mail piece and the way a consumer interacts with it is vastly different to an online approach.
Take for example the envelope.
Writing keyword rich subject lines Direct Marketing writers always know that the message on the envelope can make or kill your campaign.
Online, there are no envelopes so it's the subject line that suddenly becomes vital.
The cut off point in Google for title characters is around 65 so the writer is subject to producing a relevant subject line of keywords within 65 characters and ensuring that they're enticing enough to secure a unique open from the recipient, whereas on an envelope you can use a variety of techniques to get a recipient to open it.
Writing body copy for online users The body copy alters online as it needs to be written specifically for web users so the writer has to consider the varying online calls to action and be aware of tips like using primary keywords in the first paragraph of text and title and heading tags, not over using internal links within the copy that contain keywords where possible and inserting cross links to strengthen web pages within the search engines.
As mentioned earlier the writer may have to alter tone and content to suit Geographic's, especially when segmentation of a database occurs and copy is written to satisfy specific interest.
The first few lines of body copy are often used as the meta description tag for a search engine listing so the writer needs to include targeted keywords and in a manner that entices the user to click on the listing i.
influence the click through to engage the user in a call to action.
Apart from that the writer needs to remember keyword density though out the body copy.
Too little is as bad as too much.
Strike a balance and remember to list in footer and navigation.
Online copy is never as long as hard copy mailers either.
The average article online is between 600 - 800 words.
A restricted area in which to secure a definite call to action! Because of this some writers use video to embellish their message and gain space.
Breaking up copy online with shorter sentences, paragraphs and bullet points helps ensure 'stickiness'.
Online readers want easy reading even if they are a regular at your blog.
Using Twitter is a great way to train as an online writer mastering brevity.
Get to the point quickly and make your call to action clear.
Strong verbs and sharp nouns are called for and if you develop a pithy tone your online writing will have higher recall.
Writing a happy ending Briefly summarise the message and remind the online reader of the call to action.
Naming images using keywords as well as highlighting them in the body copy is also recommended.
Above all remember that although the requirement is for shorter online copy it still has to be well written as online readers are fickle and recognise being fobbed off with inferior content.
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