Pop Quiz: What Makes a Great Web Writer?

Barbie Head

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.
  • 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.
  • Employs bulleted lists abundantly.
  • Edits web copy so that the message is carved down to the bare essentials.
  • Detests fluff.

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?

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  1. Julie Marsh says

    Hi Demian,

    Not only was this information spot on, but the writing itself was a perfect illustration. Well done. As a prolific author of offline articles, wordiness is an area I battle constantly when writing web copy. I appreciated the reminder. Thanks!

      • says

        Thanks Julie!

        I was fortunate to get my start on the web as a writer [actually I cut my teeth as an English Lit major, but the biz/advertising world cured me of that] so when I swung over to print for a while…it’s a little hurdle cause I still think I’m on the web. Sometimes works, but not always.

        Thanks you for swinging by.

  2. says

    I hate fluff . . . but does everyone?

    Demian, I’m still thinking about yesterday’s post–the one where you embarked on a diatribe against the mediocre.

    Does everyone really obey the “law of the web”? Is online autobahn the rule? Or is it just that small group of those remaining souls who really care about content?

    I wonder, sometimes . . . do I remember to remember that everyone is not like me? Or do I trample all over that “affair with the reader” and concentrate on the style I find most appealing?

    I am forever amazed at the zillion landing pages, all looking like they were cut from a Gary Halbert tutorial, with copy that goes on and on and on…

    But, apparently . . . they work.

    • says

      Good thoughts, Don. And I like your train of thought: challenging popular notions. [Did you just read my latest post? ;-)]

      I think you answered your own question: if they work, use them. Testing is paramount.