10 Tips on Writing for the Web

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Writing unique content for your website can (1) help your site rank better in search, (2) make it easier for your targets to find you, and (3) differentiate yourself from the run-of-the-mill real estate professional.

However, the most difficult part about writing…is writing.

To get the ball rolling, make a list of keywords and topics you know well and are passionate about. Next, schedule your posts on an editorial calendar. Posting once a week is a great first commitment, after all online transparency is about quality…not quantity. And finally, sit down and write.

You may find it tough to “just write”. So take note if there is a particular time of day your writing seems to “flow”. For me, it’s the morning following my workout. Also, recognize the moment an idea comes to mind. Those moments can be the perfect opportunity to spend 10 minutes writing because there is energy and motivation behind them.

If getting your ideas on paper, or onscreen isn’t an obstacle for you…great! But don’t make silly grammatical mistakes that take away from your quality content. So here are 10 tips to make your web copy sparkle:

1.    Title Capitalization

This really comes down to style and preference, but the two schools of thought include: capitalizing the first word of a post title, or capitalizing each word except unimportant words such as articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, or, nor), and prepositions (of, with, by).

BONUS TIP: Use section headings (w/ h2 and h3 tags) often in the body of your posts to break up ideas and help readers easily find what they are looking for.

2.    Write How You Talk

Give your posts a clear voice by writing in a conversational style. Obviously, getting too colorful may not work to your advantage (especially on a professional website). However, adding your personality here and there makes reading your posts more fun and relate-able to your target audience.

3.    Opt for Sprint vs. Marathon Paragraphs

I am undoubtedly guilty of this from time to time. When you’re on a roll with an idea resist the urge to let your paragraph continue all the way down to the footer of your site. Once you’ve written a paragraph, re-read it out loud and identify pauses. If you notice a pause, make it another paragraph. Also if you are giving tips within a paragraph or include a quote, let those stand alone in your formatting.

4.    Their, There, and They’re

Their: implies possession as in, “I love their house.”

There: implies location as in, “I would rather walk there.”

They’re: is the contraction of “they are”, as in “They’re going to Hawaii.”

5.    Its vs. It’s

Its: implies possession as in, “The company is celebrating its 40th anniversary.”

It’s: is the contraction of “it is” or “it has”, as in “It’s going to be a beautiful day!”

6.    Your vs. You’re

I usually police my own grammar…except when I see this mistake more than a few times in one day! This mistake drives me a bit bonkers.

Your: implies possession as in “Is that your bike?”

You’re: is the contraction of “you are” as in “If you’re riding 112 miles today, I’m in!”

7.    Then vs. Than

Then: implies an element of time as in “I will swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles.”

Than: implies a comparison as in “I enjoy swimming more than running.”

8.    Use Hyperlinks

If you are writing a post that includes a term that could use an explanation of its own, hyperlink it. In addition, use a hyperlink when you are covering a topic you may have related posts for.

Example: When considering the use of hyperlinks it helps to identify the type of web pages you are creating content for.

9.    One Space after Periods

We’ve been using computers, not typewriters for some time now. So if you’re still adding 2 spaces after a period, you’re doing it wrong. You only need to add ONE space after a period before beginning a new sentence…period.

10. Use Your Tools

Once you’re finished writing, be sure to utilize your tools. The best tool you have is your own voice. Read your writing aloud to check your flow. You might notice you are using the same descriptive words again and again. If that’s the case, bust out your thesaurus. I use spell check as well, since my brain will often play tricks on me as I read aloud inserting the word I assume is already there.

Take it, or Leave it

Remember writing for the web is not like writing for print. You don’t have to stick to rigid grammatical rules. Most bloggers and web copywriters enjoy writing in a conversational style.

Sentence fragments and dangling participles will not alert the web copy grammar police. In fact, when it comes to writing for the web it’s important to know that most people aren’t really reading your writing…they are scanning it. So just get to writing quality content and make it easy for your targets to find the information they’re looking for! Blog on!

2 thoughts on “10 Tips on Writing for the Web

  1. Bob Horn says:

    Nice guidelines! Like you, I am so tired of seeing the obvious incorrect choices with apostrophes where they don’t belong and no apostrophes where there should be one! Here’s hoping your tips reach some of the offenders!
    I especially like number 2 – write how you talk. I try, and when I succeed, I almost always get more interaction and feedback.
    I always enjoy your newsletter – thank you!

    • Nicole Nicolay says:

      Woohoo! I’m glad you like them…and realized I’m not trying to be a web copy know-it-all…far from it. I just think it’s nice to be able to read or scan through something online without getting hung up on little mistakes or formatting issues that make you want cringe, look away, or worse…leave that site. Blog on!

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