How to Write for the Web

On the Internet many of the rules of the brick and mortar world do not apply and writing is no exception. Competing websites are a mouse click away. The web is written for the MTV generation that was weaned on Nintendo. Think “short attention span.” Headline news, not the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer. USA Today, not the New Yorker.

The competition is fierce. Your writing must be accurate, compelling, to the point and fun! You must make it personal so that the reader feels you have written just for them. Ask yourself, why would anyone read what I wrote? What’s in it for them? What can I say that will keep that person reading the rest of your article?

Grab ’em
A catchy title means much more on the web. You need a short, catchy, attention grabbing title. Your title may be all that comes up on a search engine and you want the user to click and read your article. “CEO Leadership Secrets” is better than “Chapter Event from May.” Print magazine covers offer great examples.

Hold ’em
Now that you have grabbed eyeballs with the catchy title you need a snappy introduction. You must hold the reader with every sentence. Get to the point and skip that introduction text. Your writing must be tight. Edit carefully and delete every extra word. Try removing 50% of your words. Boredom is the cardinal sin of the web. Bonus points if you spice it up and make it more fun!

Link ’em
A hyperlink is an underlined or highlighted word, phrase or web address (URL) in an article linked. Don’t underline anything that is not a hyperlink. You click on the link and it brings you to another article, page on the website or to another website. You should think of possible links when you write. Visit the site you are writing for and search for keywords you will probably use in your article. Hyperlinks make your job easier as you can simply link to another article instead of explaining every term. For example:

Building on the E.D.G.E. in Leadership study results to improve women’s representation at senior levels, we’re investigating career tools to help the individual manage her professional development needs and companies attract, promote and retain talent.

Our Building Better Business Connections (3BC) program offers the corporate partner community in-depth information on how to start and ways to mature their women’s networks as well as how to identify and address hidden bias, a potential barrier to achieving true diversity.

The ACE award continues to honor internal leadership programs that perform. As constructive feedback is given to all submitters, I encourage every company to investigate how ACE can help – June 1 is the deadline so act quickly.

The Career Center job board now has close to 1,000 job postings and nearly that many resumes to help both job seekers and companies find the right match.

Follow these hints and you will educate and entertain your readers. Want to see how you’re doing? Check your bounce rate.

Carol Meerschaert, MBA, RD is the director of marketing and communications of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA). This article was adapted from a handout Carol wrote for a lecture delivered in 2007.

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