5 Basic Tips to Improve Your Writing for the Web
It's neat to talk about lead generation and marketing. But how well do you write? Think about it: Your writing directly impacts how many people do business
Please meet my friend and fellow real estate marketer Braden. He works and writes at RESAAS.
I was super busy with our development team this week and couldn’t get out a second post. So, I asked him to contribute something.
(If you haven’t seen what we recently launched, check out our new app called InstaFarm. This new app for LeadSites will forever change how real estate agents will farm communities.)
Anyway, Brandon’s got 5 great tips for you to take your writing to the next level. Your business will live or die by your web writing skills over the next 5 years.
Think about it:
Everything you do is an email or online document these days…and marketing is soon to be synonymous with web content. Here’s Brandon’s advice for improving your web writing… -Tyler
Attention all real estate agents!
Forget what you learned in English class.
Writing for the web is a whole different ball game.
Because the way we read has changed.
Nielson’s groundbreaking 1997 study revealed that only 16% of web users read content word-by-word.
Nobody opens up the internet to read a novel.
They want information.
And if you want to generate leads with content marketing, then you need to write in a style that quickly and effectively conveys information.
Here are 7 tips to do this:
This is the single best way to write in a style that appeals online readers. Strip down your language and convey your argument one point at a time.
It may seem silly at first. But trust me, this is the way it has to be done.
(Re-read the introduction to this article to see what I mean.)
Here is one easy way to simplify your writing style:
– Reduce your sentence length.
Examine every sentence you write. Find ways to chop them up and throw periods in there. The longer a sentence, the more likely the reader will leave.
For example, compare that sentence I just wrote with this:
“Examine every sentence you write and try to find ways to chop them up and throw periods in there, because the longer a sentence is the more likely a reader will leave.”
Did you make it through?
I know I didn’t – and I wrote it!
Here is a simple rule to help reduce sentence length:
– Each sentence should only prove one point.
Think twice every time you press the comma button to include a subclause. Ask yourself, would it be easier to read if I wrote it as an independent sentence?
The answer is probably yes.
Readability Score is a great tool to help assess how easily understood your piece of writing is. This formula was developed by the US Army to help make their training manuals more readable.
So you know it’s legit.
Get to the point.
This is the next way to improve your writing style for an online audience.
Too often, people will skirt around their main argument. You need to make statements, not suggestions. Be strong.
Here is one way to achieve this:
– Avoid passive language.
For example, don’t use the “ing” form of a verb (if possible). Especially if it’s the first verb in the sentence. I guarantee that your writing will pack a stronger punch as a result.
Here is another way to be more direct:
– Avoid adverbs.
I’ll let Stephen King explain this one.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s—GASP!!—too late.”
Do you see a trend here?
In order to be more direct, use fewer words.
Cut out the filler as much as possible – “just”, “so”, “very”, “really”, “that”, “and then”, etc. If you keep an eye out for these words, then you’ll be amazed at how many exist.
Next, ensure that it looks good to the eye.
Nobody wants to see a massive brick wall of text when they open an article. Their eyes will gloss over. They’ll scan the first page. They’ll leave.
It has to be inviting – like a home!
Here is one way to get this done:
– A short first sentence.
Every article I write begins with a short and simple sentence. It’s all alone up there. This way, the user will have no choice but to read on.
Now I can pull them along into the rest of my article.
(Like you…right now.)
If you bury the first sentence within a block of text, then it discourages the reader from entering. It may sound trivial, but veterans of web writing take this seriously – first impressions are crucial.
This same strategy must be applied to the rest of your article as well.
No paragraph should be longer than 3 or 4 sentences. And, of course, each sentence must have zero percent body fat (Tip #2).
Want another way to improve the visual appearance of your writing?
– Use bullet points
They’re a fantastic way to break up text.
And at the same time, they make it easy to identify the most important info on a page. This way, when a reader scans your article – which they most certainly will – you’ve already shown them where to stop and read.
The more you incorporate bullet points, then the more creative you can get with them.
(I just used a bullet point to mention bullet points. Ha!)
Take this article for example.
I’ve broken down the advice into a numbered list.
And within this numbered list I’ve used bullet points to highlight specific actions.
This is one of those tips you don’t want to hear.
But it’s perhaps the most important of all. Nobody can write an excellent article first time around. It takes multiple rounds of edits and revisions.
A spelling mistake is like a trampoline – people bounce away.
If I see that the author hasn’t bothered to re-read their own article, then I won’t spend much time on it either.
Onto the next one!
Here is a tool that helps:
It’s a free text-editor app that helps identify spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Kind of like Microsoft Word on steroids.
I highly recommend you try it out.
Here is another way to improve the editing process:
– Send it to a friend.
A great way to find out if your article makes sense to the reader is to, well, send it to a reader.
Let them know that you only care if they understand the article. Or if there are any spelling mistakes. Or if they felt their eyeballs glaze over at any point.
Or if it’s boring.
…These are all bad things.
But here is the single most effective editing technique:
– Take a day.
Often, you can spend so long on a piece of writing that you’re stuck inside of it. Then it becomes impossible to look at it objectively.
You’ll spend hours in this place.
So sometimes the best thing to do is to stop, get some sleep, and don’t think about it. Then go at it again the next day.
This helped me out of quite a few jams.
Now here is the final tip to help improve your writing for the web:
After all, this article is for you right?
Tell me what you think!
Do you have any questions or comments about this topic?
Leave one below!
I promise I’ll do my best to answer all of them.
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