Six Tips For Writing Effective Web Content Versus Print Writing and What You Learned in School

Writing for websites is very different than writing for print publications, and to be an effective writer for web content, you need to know the differences and learn to embrace them. If the only writing you have ever done was for print publications or school, learning to write effective web copy and web content means you almost have to learn the rules of writing all over again.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to throw out everything you learned about writing in order to be an effective web writer, because things like grammar and punctuation are still the same, or at least similar, but you do need to learn what makes good web copy.


According to various internet research studies, you have about 3-5 seconds to catch your reader’s attention, and about 12 seconds of writing to keep it. The average computer user will not spend more than 5 minutes maximum on your website or your article even if you catch their attention, so you have a very small window in which to grab the reader’s attention, focus that attention on your article, and then keep that attention to the end.

We were taught in school to use a thesis paragraph and sentence for our introduction to our writing, but with web content and web copy, this is not the best way to go. Of course, you do want to tell the reader what your article is about, but the first part of your article really needs to be something that will grab the reader’s attention in those first 3-5 seconds and keep then reading until the end.

After that, you want to keep the article short. If you don’t feel a short article will convey all the information you need to the reader, then consider writing more than one article. Narrow your focus on one specific point, and then write several articles on each point, ensuring each article can be read in less than five minutes.

Keywords and Search Engine Optimization

When we were taught to write in school, repetition was a bad thing. We were told to find new and creative ways to say the same thing differently. Instead of repeating the same phrases over and over again, we were taught to use different adjectives and nouns to draw our word pictures and keep the writing from being stale.

With web content and web copy, the exact opposite is true. Repetition is better. You need keywords for your article that will be scanned and picked up by search engines and directories, and those need to be ‘optimized’, or in other words, you need to have as many instances of them in your copy as you can without it being overkill.

Yes, this will make your writing read a bit choppy and it won’t be quite as ‘creative’ as if you had written without search engine optimization, but the only way people are going to find your articles and content is if the search engines can properly index your articles for the keywords people would enter if they were searching for your topic.

Capitalization and Formatting

We have long been told that in professional writing, you are to use bold and/or italics for emphasis and to never capitalize an entire word in order to emphasize it. Well, this isn’t necessarily true for web content and web copy. Bold and italics do mean different things to some search engines and directories, and depending on how the browser renders your text or how the text editor works, bold and italics are difficult for readers to see.

Because of this, it is SOMETIMES acceptable to use all capital letters to emphasize a word when writing web copy, even though you would probably never do this in a professional print publication writing. The key here is to use it very sparingly, and only when that emphasis is absolutely necessary for the writing.

Paragraph Breaks

When writing for print, you were probably told in school that a paragraph should be as long as necessary to convey a group of sentences with a similar thought or theme–each paragraph a mini article of its own, with the introduction sentence, several supporting sentences, and a thesis or conclusion sentence.

Web content and web copy is very different in this respect, because people will be reading your article or content on a computer screen, and it will be rendered by different browsers and placed on sites that might include other content or information around the article.

Because of all these things, long paragraphs are difficult for the reader to view, strains the eyes, and also may appear longer than they really are, turning your attention challenged reader away. Remember that the attention span of an internet surfer is greatly reduced over someone reading a book or magazine, and very long paragraphs without a break are intimidating to a web reader, and they may just skim or choose not to read your content at all.

Paragraphs for web content should be between 2-5 sentences in length, unless the sentences themselves are longer, and then perhaps only three sentences to a paragraph. Yes, this will mean that sometimes you break a paragraph when the thoughts that come after it are still related to the content before it.

Lists, Bullets, Points, Headers

Web content readers are looking for snippets of information more than they are for reading articles like one would in a magazine or newspaper or book. Remember that attention span issue, and realize that the web surfer will scan the content with their eyes first, determine if there is anything of use for them, and then may read the first few seconds of your content.

One way to really draw the attention of a web reader is to use things in your content that draw their eye. Lists, bullets, bolded or underlined headings that break up your content into points, and other formatting tools you may have at your disposal will help make your web content more attractive and allow your web reader to scan and hit the high points of your writing first, and then they may come back and read the entire content.

Give Them More

When a person is doing research in a library or by using books and magazines, they will probably find two or three reputable sources and then will not look any further. The person on the internet though is very different in their research.

Since most internet surfers only spend a few seconds or just a few minutes at most on any one article or website, and because additional information is just a few keystrokes or mouse clicks away, the average research on the internet may be from many different sources.

Once we start clicking, those clicks lead to more clicks, lead to more clicks, and lead to more clicks. So when you write your web copy or content, give your reader some alternate sources to click on to read to learn more about your subject. You can send them to more information you have created yourself or you can send them to other websites that support the information you have given them.

This is NOT the same as citing a source or referencing another website in your content though. What you are wanting to do by providing additional resources for your content is to add credibility to your information, by showing other reputable sites who share your opinion, as well as showing your reader you are knowledgeable.

There you have it: Six Tips for Writing Effective Web Content. Of course, these aren’t the only tips for writing effective web content, but these are good to give you a start on how to adjust your writing style to make it more internet friendly.

Article Writing Services: Freelance, Consultancy or Dedicated?

Article writing services are anything but a dime a dozen because ultimately, you get what you pay for. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands or even tens of thousands of companies and individuals offering their “expertise” as professional writers. Unfortunately, the internet allows people who are less than professional to pose as anything they want to be – often at the expense of an unwitting business owner. But because of the fiercely competitive nature of the writing industry, it can be difficult to discern who will consistently deliver finely crafted content. Understanding the three types of article writing services can help you make an informed decision about who to do business with.

The Three Types of Article Writing Services

1.) Freelance Article Writing Service

Freelance writers are generally inexpensive and some provide very high quality work. However, the truly great freelance writers out there are difficult to nail down for a project, and the rest provide substandard work. This makes navigating this particular field rather difficult. And let’s face it: many writers are flaky. Missed deadlines, lack of communication and abandonment of projects are common in the freelance writing industry.

Freelance writers generally write from home. Or wherever they want – that’s one of the primary benefits of the job. But this means that a 17 year old kid living in his parent’s basement can put up a nice website and some decent copy and pose as a professional. Others could be non-native English speakers operating from some third world country. Still others could be former English professors.

How do you tell the difference?

You don’t; not without personal experience or the referral of someone who has worked with the writer previously.

The point is that even the best freelance writers can be flaky, so the only way to distinguish between types is through consistency. If you find a writer that is fairly priced (never less than $0.05 per word) and delivers on time without fail, then you’ve found a freelancer worth keeping.

2.) Consultancy Writing Service

Some consultants are excellent at bringing together the right talent with the right client. For businesses or individuals that don’t know the industry, this can be ideal. However, the work of some article writing services needs to be edited for style, tone, or other issues that don’t involve grammar or spelling. (If your writer of any type returns work with grammar or spelling issues, they are NOT a professional.) This means that the time spent between all factions on the project significantly increases: The writer submits to the consultant, the consultant submits to you, you request edits to the consultant, the consultant requests the changes of the writer, the writer makes the changes and gives them back to the consultant, who gives them to you again for review. All this for one edit.

Consequently, the convenience that a consultant provides is sometimes offset by the frustration of going through a middleman for work that you could easily contract yourself.

3.) Dedicated

A dedicated article writing service is exactly what the name implies: a company or individual that is solely in the business of providing professional articles. Dedicated article writing services have a multi-level staff that includes editors, writers, journalists, fact checkers and – in some cases – attorneys. This allows a number of benefits, the most significant of these being that the writer you hire won’t be the same person conducting the final editing of his/her own work – a big no-no in the industry.

Additionally, when you call or email a dedicated article writing company with a revision request, editing request or simply to check the status of your project, you can be assured of a swift response from the editor who is handling your work. Communication between writers, editors and clients is fundamental to developing an individualized writing plan that incorporates your personal style, flair, marketing intents and target demographic. This level of communication can only be obtained by working with a dedicated article writing service.