Writing for the Web: Print vs Online

Before the advent of the internet and SEO, books and newspapers were our medium of reading. It was the usual practice to browse through the morning newspaper on our way to work. Subscriptions to libraries and reading halls was the norm. Remember when you use to sit for hours in the library reading your favorite novel. An ideal way to spend your weekend morning was to leaf through your favorite magazine while sipping on a cup of tea or coffee. Remember in your childhood you would rush home from school eager to read your new comics book.

But things have changed now. Books, magazines, newspapers, comics and brochures are not the only sole medium of information. Now most of the people get their daily dose of content by going online through websites and blogs. The way people read has drastically changed. What does this mean for content writing? We all know how content is important from the SEO point of view. Should writers change how they write when posting on the net? And the answer is a complete Yes.

How should a writer transform his style of writing on the web. Let’s find out some of the writing for the web best practices:

1) The F shape pattern: Content writing is just not about SEO and keywords, it is also recognizing the manner in which a reader reads online. While reading on hard print people read word by word, and line by line. But while on the web, they normally use the F-pattern layout. It means on web page, they will scan the top section in a horizontal way. Next they will check out the left side text. A little towards midway, they will again cross the horizontal section of the content which coincides with the lower horizontal bar of the alphabet F. As they go further down, they will read on the left margin of the page. The content writer should place key points of his article in this F shape pattern. So there are better chances of getting the message across.

2) Use bulleted text: Another content writing tip to fulfill your SEO goals is to provide bulleted format text. Consider the following example and find out which is easier to read:

a) Go to the super mall on your way back home and do not forget to bring these items: vegetables, biscuits, sandwich, butter milk, and tissue paper


b) Go to the super mall on your way back home and do not forget to bring these items: 

  • vegetables
  • biscuits
  • sandwich
  • butter milk, and
  • tissue paper

You may have noticed point (b) is easier to read, clearly separates text, avoids overcrowding, and promotes scanning which is the natural tendency of the reader. So use bulleted text in your content wherever needed.

3) Short paragraphs: Using long paragraphs and writing a piece of text in one huge column for online reading is like murdering your article. For your SEO strategy to be effective, separate your text into short paragraphs. Provide one idea per paragraph. This way they are easy to read. Readers are better able to understand and remember your content. Use active voice for your sentence instead of passive. Active voice calls for action and makes it easier to understand for people whose native language is other than English.

4) Subheads highlight your content: Use subheads to begin a new point or idea. This way readers are able to know what to expect in your content. Subheads are like a map of your article. Just as a map guides you through a large area, subheads guide readers through the content, especially if it is a big article.

5) Do not provide false information: When we read an article in a newspaper, we can check out certain facts by querying the newspaper. We generally trust the information we read in hard print. But when it comes to web content, anybody can post an article or a blog. The author’s name is usually not given and we cannot clarify doubts online. So people are cautious while reading on the net. An online writer has to realize this fact and always try to build confidence by posting trustworthy content. Any false information can lose trust and thus viewership.

Thus we see that writing online is very different from writing for hard print. You have to adjust to the way people read on the web and write accordingly. Writing on the web is not just using the latest SEO techniques, it is also about enhancing reader experience and providing worthwhile information.