Improve Your Online Writing Skills

8 Best practices to reach and engage your online audience with content

In this video from our “House Calls” video series, we’re going to go over 8 best practices for improving your online writing skills. You have to be able to communicate in an effective and professional manner online. These eight steps can get you start quickly and painlessly.

Full video transcript:

To improve your online writing, keep this best practices in mind.

Out of respect for your users’ time and reading skills, keep your writing simple and concise. Avoid jargon, acronyms, idioms, and techno speak that your audience may not understand. Most people prefer a conversational tone to a formal tone because it’s more personal and direct.

Highlighting carefully chosen keywords can attract readers’ attention to specific areas of the page. Using design treatments such as boldface or colored text adds emphasis and draws the eye to important elements. Highlighting entire sentences or long phrases slows readers down, so single out just those words and phrases that communicate key points.

Headings and subheadings should be used to break text into manageable chunks and making it easier to read and comprehend your copy. Their main purpose is to point readers to the content they seek. Headings and subheadings should have a 60 character maximum, should appear larger and bolder than body text, left justify, and don’t set in all caps.

Meeting Low Literacy Needs. The number of web users with low literacy may be as high as 30%. Writing text that’s aimed at the 6th grade reading level, especially on high-exposure pages such as the homepage, category pages, and product pages. Pages deeper inside the site can be written at an 8th grade reading level.

It’s OK to Toot Your Own Horn. Sometimes a little self-congratulations is appropriate, such as when you’re highlighting noteworthy accomplishments. The goal is to appear knowledgeable without coming on too strong.

Long, rambling text frustrates audiences. In general, the word count for Web content should be about half of that used in conventional writing. Break your content into smaller chunks. It’s helpful to keep paragraphs under five sentences. Each paragraph should have one topic sentence and one idea.

Ask yourself whether somebody reading the first two lines on your page will take away the information you want to convey. Make sure the most important point on a web page is stated within the first two lines.

When describing steps or items in a series, use bulleted or numbered lists.

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