Best practices for writing for the web and presenting digital content

People reading articles online remember only 10% of what they read, so make your point quickly and simply when writing for the web said Tuesday’s presenter at the “Content Curation: Discovering, Gathering and Presenting Digital Content” seminar at the University of Buffalo’s Center for Tomorrow.

“Content will tell the story of your organization and product in ways that you want it to be told,” said presenter Nicole Schuman, owner of SchuShine Communications, a marketing communications business. “It will help people find your webpage as far as keywords and search, and it will brand you as an expert in your industry.”

How to write for the web

  • Use bold, summarizing headlines
  • Be short; use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Bold your text to make people remember the most important points
  • Use bulleted lists
  • Use block quotes in a blog
  • Use active voice versus passive voice
  • Get to the point (subject, verb, object)
  • Keep it to one main idea per sentence
  • Every sentence must have a fact. Cut any unnecessary filler.
  • Focus on the reader (avoid “we” and “us,” use “you,” meaning the reader.)

Schuman recommends using the 3-2-1 formula: include three subheadings, two links to additional sources, to let readers delve deeper into a topic, and one graphical element such as a photo, chart or video.

In addition to sharing your content on social media networks, Schuman also recommends cultivating relationships with reporters and bloggers through Twitter. Schuman first started using Twitter in 2006 in order to get press for the e-commerce company where she worked.

“We couldn’t get normal news stories in a newspaper or even trade magazines,” said Schuman. “The way to get more news reporters to be involved with us was to get involved with the tech bloggers. The only way to get in touch with the tech bloggers was through Twitter. We got a lot of blogs (posts) about our company through the tech bloggers.”

Blogs are still very important said Schuman, “It’s really your hub for online content.  Companies with blogs generate 55% more web traffic than companies without them. If someone comes to your blog, chances are they are going to go to (visit) your website.”

The March 27 seminar was presented by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Buffalo Niagara Chapter. Visit their website for upcoming events.

Recommended Resources

Book: “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business,” By Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

Article: Best Practices For Writing For Online Readers