Writers in the print world often think that because they can write well in print they can write well online.
It’s not that simple.
In fact, there are lots of things that go into writing for the web. The following 14-point check list is not an exhaustive list but it is a quick-and-dirty guide to what it takes to write well for the web.
If you are a web writer, work through the list and see how many describe you. Then see my half-baked grading system to evaluate your status.
Ready? Here we go…
A great web copywriter is someone who:
- Understands SEO–but doesn’t crawl in bed with her. [Actually, the writer’s affair is with the reader.]
- Understands how to write attractive micro-content.
- Gets usability.
- Is a slave to results.
- Is a slave to user needs. [See first bullet.]
- Nods in approval when some says the word “keywords.”
- Gets links, link building, linkbait and anchor text.
- Makes no bones about front-loading headlines with information-rich words so readers grasp what they need in micro-seconds.
- Delivers scannable posts and articles tricked out with seductive sub-headlines and meaningful links that woo readers.
- Understands the law of the web–and obeys it.
- Employs bulleted lists abundantly.
- Madly in love with the inverted pyramid metaphor.
- Edits web copy so that the message is carved down to the bare essentials.
- Detests fluff.
- Opposes tiny font (via Henneke Duistermaat).
Like I said, this is not an exhaustive list, but if five or fewer of the bullets describe you, you’ve got work to do as a web writer.
If 6-10 describe you, you’re a good copywriter. But you can do better.
All 14, and I’m kissing your feet. In the end you are the ideal web writer Google has in mind when they talk about writing high-quality content.
So, how’d you do?
Image source: Self-portrait as phrenology illustration