So your business needs a blog? And you think you’re the person to write it?
If you’ve written essays, studied English language or been through enough books to stock a library, you might think that you’re well equipped to create a (fairly decent) blog.
I’ve got news for you…it’s not as easy it sounds!
Writing for the internet is a completely different ball game to writing in general (particularly how it’s taught in school).
In the remainder of this blog, I’m going to share some of my most valuable tips for writing for the internet.
The Modern Blog Reader
I could talk about writing tips and tricks until I’m blue in the face, but if you don’t understand what the modern blog reader looks like, they’re not going to mean anything.
A lot of beginners tend to write for the internet like they’re expecting the reader to be sitting on their wingback chair in their drawing room, supping on a pipe, whilst wearing their favourite pair of slippers.
The reality is very different (and this is why a lot of blogs fail).
Most of your audience do not have much time or attention for blogs, articles and guides.
^This is a cold, hard truth that you must accept ASAP^
As a result of this, most visitors to your blog are not going to read the content you’ve created (unless you know how to write for them).
I can say this with assured confidence for a few reasons:
Mobile is the Most Used Internet Browsing Device
As great as mobile is, these devices weren’t designed with blog reading in mind.
The text is small, dangerously easy to scroll over (with the flick of a thumb) and most importantly, people who browse the internet on their mobile have much less intent than a desktop user.
Your blogs should be primed for the mobile user (and I’ll explain how to do this later).
You must accept that mobile visitors are a tough crowd to please, especially with the rise of apps and social newsfeeds – so, you’ll need to be clever to win them over.
BTW: Learn more about creating super-fast, high ranking webpages for mobile in our Guide to AMP.
Attention Spans Are Shorter Than Ever
We live in a competitive world of high-speed information sharing. At times it can feel like 100 people all want your attention at the same time.
This has made our attention spans shorter than ever before.
If a blog feels slow, like it’s taking too long to get to the point or (for lack of a better word) boring, readers will abandon without a second thought.
When writing for the internet, focus on repeatedly grabbing attention (I’ll explain how to do this too).
Reading Can Feel Like Work
As much as you and I might love it, reading can feel work – particularly when it’s based on an educational topic (like this).
And with video and podcasts proving easy content to consume, the digital world is increasingly leaning towards these types of content.
However, that doesn’t mean that blogging can’t or won’t work for you – it almost definitely can – you just have to make it more enjoyable for your readers.
I look at every blog that I write and publish as the ‘experience’ that it is.
When you have a few minutes of your reader’s time, do everything you can to improve their experience – and try to make sure it doesn’t feel like work!
A Quick Summary (Before The Tips!)
Blogging is an incredibly competitive medium – that’s because it works.
It drives traffic, builds audiences, generates leads and can move your business/brand towards its goals – as long as you realise what the modern internet reader looks like.
Many are on their mobiles, few have time or attention to spare and for some, reading can feel like hard work.
These might sound like drawbacks, but they’re actually opportunities…
…because the more we know about our audience, the better we can provide them with an experience that suits their needs.
So now you know the average internet blog reader, let’s look at a few ways that you can write more effectively for them:
Have a Conversation
Writing a blog might feel like a one-way thing, but it isn’t. Write like you’re having a conversation.
Try to anticipate what your reader is thinking and respond to it – do this by filling information gaps ASAP and immediately answering any questions that your content brings up.
Having a conversation also means writing in a conversational tone. This means steering clear of long-winded explanations, sentences that try to make you look clever and formalities for the sake of formalities.
Write like you’re talking to a friend and your readers will feel a lot closer to you (and maybe even become your friends along the way).
Being real and authentic with your writing gives you a much better chance of building an audience than being fake, formal or distant.
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to increase bounce rate, quick page exits, backward clicks and low time on page stats, it’s big blocks of text.
Personally, I hate them.
Whenever I land on a blog that looks like a never-ending sentence, I’m outta there as quickly as I came in.
Yes, it’s important to vary sentence length for the flow of the reader – but, it’s more important that you don’t waste their time on long, bulky, intimidating looking stuff.
Long paragraphs scare readers and destroy readability. Cut unnecessary words and phrases wherever possible.
And what’s more, long paragraphs condense into super-long blocks of texts on mobile screens – completing neglecting your mobile visitor’s experience.
If more than half of the internet are browsing the internet online, it’s probably worth your while to write in a structure that fits their needs!
Sub-Heads that Recapture
Whilst this is not a general rule for all blogs, I strongly advise using sub-heads at a maximum of 300 words apart.
The main reason for this is skim readers.
No matter how long you spend writing guides or pouring your heart into blogs, you have to accept that a lot of visitors will simply flick over your article, filtering their experience down to the most relevant information to them.
Regular sub-heads are one of the best ways to re-engage skim readers.
They stand out from the text, give your internet writing a structure and make things very digestible for visitors.
Every sub-head is an opportunity to boost your behavioural metrics and build stronger relationships with your prospects.
Similarly, to the points made about sub-headings (above), visuals allow you to recapture the attention of skim readers.
You should use them to demonstrate the points that you’ve made in the text – but try to avoid generic stock imagery as much as possible!
Visuals also improve the experience of the readers on your blog.
It’s important to note that everything you add to a webpage impacts your visitors’ impression of your brand – visuals allow you to add value.
And value is massively important!
For example, in instructional content I use as many screenshots and screen records as possible so visitors can visually understand the points I’m making.
But it doesn’t have to stop there – images, click to tweets, quotes, GIFs, videos – are just a few other examples of visual content that can add value where appropriate.
Just make sure that when you use visual content, you use it rhythmically throughout the page – this means using them at similar intervals to break up long stretches of text.
It hurts my heart to say it, but the most amazing content in the world will not perform unless it has a strong headline attached to it.
You could follow every rule in this guide to writing for the internet, really know your target audience and produce something spell-bounding, but if the title is poor, it’s going to do badly.
I could write an entire guide to headline writing, but for now, I’d suggest you go to a website that publishes a lot of content, and check out the posts that are performing best.
Try to pick apart the focus and structure of the headlines and rewrite them to fit your content.
Writing well is one thing, but writing that follows a content marketing strategy is something completely different.
Blogs and online written content should be produced with an overall brand aim in mind.
^^^That usually means something more than just providing blogs to read^^^
Always encourage your readers to take further action on every single blog post.
For example, you could try to get them to:
- Read more content
- Sign up for a lead magnet
- Follow you on social media
- Find out more about working with your brand
- Discover your product/service solutions
Create content that fits into a strategic plan, and use your written articles and blogs as tactical movements towards that strategy.
Something I’m asked a lot is – ‘how long should my blog post be?’
It’s well documented that longer content tends to rank better on Google.
In my experience, there is some truth in this. However, it’s not a make or break of performing in search results.
Some of my best performing content in terms of Google traffic is relatively short in word count, and some of my longest hasn’t done as well as expected.
If you’d asked me about this a few years ago, I would’ve agreed with the ‘experts’ with regards to content length, but now I have a much more considered perspective.
Ranking on Google is difficult – and it takes a lot more than writing 1500-2500 words (or however much you’ve seen recommended).
If you’re just starting out, or aiming to improve your writing for the internet, write what feels comfortable.
Don’t try to stretch out content for the sake of it, and don’t restrict your words to fit a ‘SEO Master’s’ suggested word count either – your readers will notice!
My biggest piece of advice here is to stay consistent. Find your comfortable writing length and stick to that ball park figure.
If you’re comfortable and engaged writing your content, your readers will feel the same.
My final tip in this guide is to allow plenty of white space for readers.
This might not be as easy for mobile users, but when it comes to desktop, you’ll notice that many of the internet’s best performing blogs in ALL industries include tons of white space.
For example, the Einstein Marketer blog only includes content in the central column on every page.
This uncluttered and modern feel allows readers to focus on nothing but the content – exactly where we want their attention.
It also makes the page appear less intimidating, and gives the content a bite-sized feel.
Use as much white space as possible!
Writing for the internet takes practice – just like anything else.
The more you publish, the better you’ll become.
Find your voice, follow the tips in this guide and produce content that tactically helps your brand achieve its strategic goals.
And remember, people want to hear from you – give them that opportunity with great written content.
Want more marketing strategies, tactics and advice? Check out one of our best performing relevant guides:
- Content Marketing Ideas: How To Never Run Out of Content!
- How I Turn One Blog Post Into 100’s of Social Media Posts
- Priming in Marketing: Advertising Psychology 101
- Google Chrome Extensions For Marketers
- Instagram Reach: 9 Tactics To Reach More People on Insta