Web Writing For Beginners: Internet Authors Make Many Mistakes When Starting Out

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Writing for the web may be similar to other forms of writing, but it is not the same thing. Even if you write well and an interesting fashion, it will not keep people coming back from more.  The key to writing for the success as an Internet author is learning how to write content that will be ranked highly in the most popular search engines.  Even writers who have experience working with other forms of media have some difficulty learning how to ply their trade online.

The basics of writing for the web are simple. The web writer must understand search engine optimization, keyword density, social book marking, and how to title his article.It may seem strange but title selection for web articles is one of the simplest things of web writing. It is also one of the last things many people grasp.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is writing articles in such a way that search engines will cause them to be indexed higher in your search engine listings.  In other words, SEO is a long name for a simple concept.  The Internet author must understand and use these techniques if he wants to be successful.

Selecting Titles for your Articles

The neopyte Internet oauthor often chooses the titles for his articles by selecting a cute or clever title.   Choosing a title that is cute or clever  is the absolute worst thing to do when maximizing content for page views..  The pay for authors on the Internet is  always related directly or indirectly to the amount of times a particular story is viewed, the habit  of choosing clever titles must quickly be unlearned.

The correct strategy when choosing a headline is to think about what a user would type into a search engine such as Yahoo or Google to find the information contained in your story.  The titles the author chooses for his pieces should include the keyword phrases that will be repeated through the text of your story.  If the reader does not understand what is meant by the term keyword, the term will be defined in the next section.   It is even more important than the next SEO item, which is understanding keywords and how to use them.

Understanding Keywords and Keyword Density

A keyword is the phrase most likely to be typed in to find the article and keyword density is the amount of times the keyword appears in the article.  A story should be written around one or two essential phrases that get scattered through the article

Repeating key phrases over and over again helps a web writer’s search engine rankings, but there is a catch to this.  Early in the days of the World Wide web, people would stuff words into the background to cause pages to rank higher.  This practice no longer works.   A keyword density of over 10% will cause most search engines to penalize the author’s efforts and the site will rank much lower in the search engine’s indexes.

Keyword density is the number of times the keyword prhase appears in the article.   The ideal keyword density for articles optimized by Google should be between 1-2%.   Hovering around the lower end of this estimate is ideal.   Tools like textalyser.net can analyze the density of certain phrases and help the author reach his goal or let the him know if he has used a particular phrase too often.

Writing for the Web — Keep It Short!

This guide violates this rule, but that is because the topic needs to be covered a little more in depth.  Many web readers have short attention spans and do not want to spend too much time reading their articles on the Internet.  Many sites recommend stories have a length somewhere between 300 to 500 words.  The specific minimums and maximums will depend on the particular site where the final piece will appear.   (The reader can verify this right now. How many of you wished this article ended several paragraphs ago?)

Social Book Marking

This is the trickiest element to master when it comes to writing for the web.  Social book marking sites are useful for promoting your content, but the habit of many writers to spam links to their content has caused the book marking sites to view some sites with deep suspicion.Netscape’s Propeller has banned Suite 101, and Reddit is not particularly fond of Associated Content.    Social book marking, does however, increase the number of links to your article, which is an important element of search engine optimization..  

The key to not getting banned on these sites and not getting the sites for whom you write for is being a good online citizen.  Web writers do not need to submit every article they produce.  In fact, if good SEO techniques are followed, promoting Internet articles on gives a boost on traffic for the first few days after the article is posted.     Remember to bookmark other articles and other sites and save the links for the articles that you are proudest of as an author.  (Onlywire can streamline the social bookmarking site submission process greatly.)

Google is Your Friend

Most readers will reach your articles via Google. Goggle’s closet competitors Yahoo and MSN would not equal Google’s traffic if the number of their total searches were combined.  Google does occasionally change its indexing techniques, and as these are a corporate secret,  Google does not readily reveal them.  It is often pieced together by web writers later.

It is important for a web writer to keep abreast of the changes made by the more popular search engines when they become known, as Google, for example, often changes its code to provide better search results.

Google also makes tools available that help web writers and Internet advertisers figure out what topics web users  are searching for.  Google Trends can give information about the most popular searches for a single date or arange of dates, and  it can be used to help a web writer find topics to write about.

Putting It All Together

Web writing is not harder than more traditional writing.  It is simply different.  Readers will expect a web writer to be fairly competent with spelling and grammar, but the writing quality on many web sites has lowered expectations of potential readers.   Once the author grasps titles and keyword density, most of his work is done and the rest is simply learning a few useful tricks. 

Changing your pen name to a well-known celebrity may garner page views, but this tactic is frowned upon, unless for some reason, your real name actually happens to be something like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.


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