Here at Best Rank, we provide Internet Presence Management. Essentially, we help our clients gain better recognition on the World Wide Web through search engine optimization (or SEO). Our marketing services take place exclusively on the Internet, and not through printed media. There are many benefits to reap through this specific marketing strategy, and there’s certainly a great deal more to it than that, but if I described it all here, would you read it?
Maybe, but according to Dr. Jakob Nielsen, maybe not. And this brings me to my main point: writing for the web is an entirely different thing from writing for print. Called, “the guru of Web page usability” by The New York Times, Dr. Nielsen has conducted multiple extensive studies that prove major differences between web readers and print readers. In other words, that tome of wonderful information you’d like to have on your home page probably isn’t going to get much attention. Here are a few facts Dr. Nielsen found in his usability studies:
- 79% of web users scan the page, instead of reading word-for-word
- Reading from a computer screen slows readers down by 25%, so,
- Web content should only have about half the word count as printed content
- Web users pay more attention to headlines and summaries than body content
- Web users often neglect the left to right reading rule, and dart around the page from the center
- Web readers tend to bypass large blocks of text or long web pages – and prefer short paragraphs or bulleted points, with the most important information at the top
… and this is truly only a small sampling of findings. The conclusion? It’s survival of the fittest in the vast land of the Internet, and we must adapt our writing to fit readers’ needs, or we’re all at a loss.
For those new to the idea of SEO and Internet marketing, this can be a little bit frustrating. You would think the computer screen is just another vessel through which we share our precious information, right? Actually, it’s a whole different animal.
This doesn’t have to be unfortunate, though. Those of us living in analog land, still getting our film developed and carrying around our battered yet beloved copy of Catcher in the Rye can learn to adjust our web content. After all, it’s a quickly-advancing modern world in which we live, and you don’t want to be left behind. Here are a few tips for creating effective web copy:
- Keep it simple – and short (remember, word count should be 50% of print)
- Break large chunks of copy up into smaller, more concise sections
- Use bulleted or numbered points to simplify main ideas for easy reading
- Keep sentence structure and word choice simple
- Always put your most important information at the top
- Create various pages within your website for different topics, instead of having lots of information on one page.
- Use highlighting, or bold important keywords
If you want presence on the Internet, it’s important to stay up-to-date with web writing practices. Always make sure to check your site for current information and usability.