Your digital content should be one of your most powerful marketing tools, but it only works if you know the basics of writing for an online audience. The first thing to realize is that Web readers aren’t looking for a literary masterpiece when they visit your site. In general, they’re looking for information first and foremost. You don’t have to be boring to be informative, but you don’t have to dazzle anyone with your command of the written word, either.
The truth is that writing is only part of the puzzle. How you arrange and format your posts plays an equally important part in whether readers find your content valuable. Creative copy should be encouraged, as long as it fits within the larger framework of what makes a blog post accessible and share-worthy to Web readers. The point where information and organization intersect creates great online content.
How to Organize Your Content with the Reader in Mind
The great majority of readers will arrive at your website seeking information. Maybe the title of one of your blog posts caught their interest, or they’re simply looking to learn more about your products or services. Either way, your reader is looking for something, and it’s your job to make that something as easy as possible for the reader to find. You’re writing for a broad audience, so your content needs to be easy to scan, organized logically, and written in an informative, accessible tone.
- Start by breaking your content into chunks. Big blocks of text will only send readers scrambling for the back button, so stick with short paragraphs and sentences. The process is similar to organizing paragraphs for an essay, but in smaller chunks.
- Use bullet-point lists to format your chunks of text for easy scanning. When creating a list, try to group related items together in a logical way.
- Use clearly labeled subheads to guide readers through your content, and tell them what to expect from a list. For example, the subhead above refers to organizing content. Scan down from that subhead and, sure enough, we’re talking about how to organize content effectively.
- You can see how each step feeds into the next, and simplifies the information-seeking process for the reader. If the reader can easily find what they want, they’ll be more likely to return to your content in the future.
- Images and quick-hitting statistics are both great ways to break up text and keep the interest of readers. Images are also the most shared type of content on the Web.
How to Craft Compelling Content for an Online Audience
Don’t try to do too much. Your audience is more interested in information than entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with a spark of creativity, as long as you remember that you’re dealing with a broad audience. Your readers have limited time, and limitless distractions online.
- Never use the passive voice, unless there is absolutely no other choice. And really, there are very few occasions when the active voice isn’t an option.
- Lead off with your most important information. Your opening paragraph should set expectations for the reader, and include a few interesting tidbits to grab attention.
- Write in language that your readers actually use. As a general rule, don’t use words that the average reader would need a dictionary to understand.
- Don’t be afraid of a little white space. It’s good to give your text room to breathe, and white space also helps in the formatting and scanning department.
- Finally, have a little fun. Being informative should be your first priority, but there’s nothing wrong with showing a bit of personality in the process.
Be informative, be organized, and write with your audience in mind. Following those three simple rules will go a long way toward ensuring that your content delivers the quality that your readers expect. Creating quality content isn’t easy, but the process is much simpler when you understand the expectations of your audience.
The experts at Emphasize Design are here to help with your writing, web design, and online marketing. Learn more about our online marketing services, and how we can help with all of your content development needs!