There are two critical aspects to keep in mind as a professional writer: the writing platform and target audience. Often times, these really go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to know who your reader is and how they are consuming the content.
In the book Audience, Relevance and Search, authors James Mathewson, Frank Donatone and Cynthia Fishel take a look into the concept of writing for the web in comparison to print. They specify how writing for the web and writing for the book-reader are completely different strategies.
When writing a paperback or e-book, the author is in complete control of how the content is consumed. Typical books have structure and ultimately create the path for the reader to take. The downside is that if it’s not structured in a way that’s compelling to the reader, they can ultimately choose to give up at any time. Contrary to print copy, when writing for the web, the browser [reader] is in complete control of how they consume the material. As a writer, this must be top of mind, which is why there is a whole book dedicated to creating “relevant” content for the web. Web-browsers are well-known for scanning, bouncing, clicking and searching, which is why all of these factors must be taken into consideration when writing for the web.
As we all know, the power-house search engine, Google is not going away any time soon, and in the book mentioned above, they suggest writing with the search engines in mind first, and readers second. The reasoning is simple. When writing for the search engines, keep keywords in mind that will match to the body copy, thus making it relevant for the “Googlers” out there to find your work. One caveat, loading your content with keywords that are not relevant may get you traffic, but it will also increase your bounce-rate; which is not a good thing.
That’s why we say, writing for the web is completely different than print, the browsers are in control so it’s your job as professional writers to keep web-readers engaged at the highest level possible. Typical browsers scan for specific keywords, summaries and content they are looking for, and if they don’t find it, they bounce off the page. Writers who know who their target audience should have no problem reeling them in with compelling keyword strings, their next most important piece is writing captivating content that keeps them coming back for more.
Flickr / Martin Gommel