Rules, rules and more rules. I’m not much of a “rule follower” myself. However, when it comes to writing high quality online content, I do follow a few rules. Ok, they are really just guidelines. Here they are:
1. Use Simple Language
Keep the language simple and plain. Don’t use any words that the reader might need a dictionary to understand. Avoid using too much jargon or technical language that only your friends will understand. Keep sentences short and uncomplicated.
2. Watch your tone
The tone of your web content should be casual, as if you’re talking to a friend. Write like you’re writing to a friend. It’s also perfectly fine to use ‘I.’ Writing that is stiff and formal alienates readers and doesn’t build a personal connection, in addition to being hard to read. The exception is if you represent a stiff formal business with a stiff formal audience.
3. Use Small Chunks of Text
The same goes for the text. There’s nothing tougher than reading a huge block of text on a computer screen. It’s even worse when you’re using a mobile device. Paragraphs should be short and to the point. There’s nothing wrong with a paragraph as short as a sentence.
4. Break It Up with Headers
Break your articles up into headers. These are subtitles that tell the reader what each paragraph or part is about. These are great because people skim online web content. You can write your headers afterward and they can just be a few simple words describing what that section is about.
5. Keep it Short and Digestible…Sometimes
There are two sides of this debate. How long should your blog post really be? It’s often best to keep posts short and centered on one main point.
It should be mentioned, though, that longer articles tend to bring more benefits in terms of SEO. The search engines tend to favor longer content over shorter content. But for the sake of getting started, keep your posts short. You have to get used to writing a bit before you can stretch it out to longer articles.
6. Give It the Quality Test
Gear your web content toward solving readers’ problems. Of course, your 300-word blog post may not solve the problem completely for them. But give them some tips and advice that they can use. When you finish writing, read over it and ask yourself, “Does it offer value?” If it does, it probably passes the quality test.
7. Help Readers Take Action
A nice touch is to add a few takeaways at the end of the article. These are specific things your reader can do to solve their problem right now. You can summarize with steps if the article describes a process.
Now you have the rules. Which one’s will you follow?