If you write for the web, you must have already seen a host of articles telling you how to do it. It’s automatically assumed that you will find vague How-to lists interesting enough to read and follow. But these articles aren’t really helping you at all. At best, you’ll churn out content similar to 90% of what’s already crowding the web. At worst, you’ll write end up getting penalized by search engines for using black-hat techniques.
What shouldn’t you do when you write for the web?
1. Don’t Write for Search Engines
SEO is constantly changing and it’s at the mercy of people who control search engine algorithms. When you’re attempting to write for search engines you lose sight of who you’re actually trying to reach. Instead of concentrating on each algorithm update, focus on the long-term. Learn the basics of SEO, but understand that search engines are trying to make search as natural as possible for people. Write content for humans, not robots.
2. Avoid Lingo, Jargon and Jingles
It may seem like you’re exhibiting a lot of expertise and knowledge when you use obscure terms and technical jargon in your content, but all you’re doing is making your copy hard to read.
As Einstein put it, ‘You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.’ The same applies to content. If you want to look like a domain expert, make things so simple that anyone can understand complex concepts.
3. Curate Sparingly or Not At All
Ever since the rise of social media, content curation is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Some sites devote a lot of time and energy to finding the best things on the Internet and compiling them in one place. They help everyone out by making a wide range of obscure but useful content discoverable. But most curation is simply an excuse not to write original content. If you have to curate, do it well or do it sparingly or don’t it at all.
4. Steer Clear of Amateurish Mistakes
Poor grammar, incorrect spellings, sales pitches and stiff sentences are a sure-fire way for spotting an amateur. The problem with amateurs is that they often don’t have anything of value to write about. They write for the sake of writing, which results in poor results.
Instead, do this:
1. Tell a Personal Story that’s Not About You
Storytelling is a vital part of writing for the web. With a quintessentially human story which connects a pain point with a solution, you entertain and inform your readers at the same time. And entertainment sells. It’s even better if the story is from personal or professional experience, but don’t blow your own trumpet. Focus on the problem and solution not the character in the story.
2. Be Mindful of Spelling and Grammar
This is fairly basic but many don’t realize the importance of writing grammatically correct English. In short, verbose and semantically wrong language marks you out as an amateur, especially since you’re a writer.
3. Write Like You Talk
Have you ever read a sentence that’s so convoluted that you decide not to finish reading it when you’re in the middle? Don’t do that. Instead, write like you talk. A conversational tone will help you keep things crisp. Have trouble doing this? Read it out load and check if you would actually say something that you’ve written to your colleagues and friends in person.