Since online articles can be an additional source of contract leads, it is important that you write them in such a way that they are "web friendly"-and thus more accessible to your readers. This is especially important for articles you published previously in magazines, journals or other print media. While long paragraphs are visually acceptable in print magazines, they are a bane to Web users.
Web users don't read; they scan.
When you write for the web, you must first consider how people read on the web. A study by Jakob Nielsen, deemed the "guru of webpage usability" by The New York Times, found that only 16 percent of his test users actually read the copy they found online; 79 percent of them simply scanned it.
Given those numbers, web-content providers who truly want to get their information across to their readers must follow what has become the cardinal rule of web writing: Make it "scannable." Web users, notorious for their impatience, don't want to get bogged down in long blocks of text as they search for the information they need; instead, they want that information to jump out at them.
Keep it short and scannable.
There are a number of ways you can make your text easier to scan:
Use bulleted or numbered lists. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Make sure all your writing has substance. Say it straight. Use subheadings. Use typeface variations.
Start with the conclusion.
Use your keywords.
To get visibility on the major search engines, your site must be able to be "indexed" by their robotic software. To do this, they must be able to compare the code, keywords & other Meta tags, and the actual written content of the site and reach a consistent conclusion regarding the context of your site. Other factors are important as well, but that is the most basic requirement. Use these guidelines for other online copy.
These guidelines hold true for all kinds of web copy, not just your online articles. Keep them in mind when creating content for your own websites or when contributing articles to other electronic media. The same things that encourage users to read your online articles will encourage them to read your other web copy.
About The Author
Dale DeHart is the President and founder of SOHO Prospecting, a Camarillo-based marketing company that provides owners of small- and medium-sized independent businesses with the strategy and services they need to compete.