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Writing for the Web – How Is It Different from Traditional Writing?

Everyone knows that writing for the web is vastly different from traditional print writing. People
scanning the web for information have much shorter attention spans, different eye tracking patterns
when reading online content as opposed to reading a book or a magazine, and want their
information given to them in small bits and pieces. Here are a few areas where online web content is
consumed differently by readers.

Here’s how writing for the web is different from traditional writing:

1. Web writing is tailored to focus on user needs

This is perhaps the main reason why web content writing is so different from traditional writing. In
the latter, authors rely on the belief that someone is taking time to sit down and read their piece
from cover to cover, with no option for any other source of information once a person starts
reading. The author has the power to direct the flow of information and has more freedom in
choosing his writing style. Web writing must adjust to the reading style of the reader, which is
usually dictated by his needs. If a reader is looking for something, he usually gets drawn to content
that offers him what he is looking for in the first two or three sentences, or you risk losing him to
another website that has the information he wants.

2. Web writing involves the use of catchy titles and conversational tones

Catchy titles are a must in web content. Online readers are bombarded by text when they open their
browsers and a catchy title is one way to stand out from the sea of words. Aside from catchy titles,
online web writing is also informal. It is common to use the first and second person speaking styles
to connect better with the reading audience.

3. People scanning content online prefer shorter paragraphs and bullet points

Shorter paragraphs and bullet points deliver information in a way that is easy to spot when scanning.
Most people who browse the Internet often allocate just a few seconds of their time for a particular
page and quickly more forward to another page when they do not see what they looking for. Your
page may have the information but it is hidden in long boring blocks of text, rendering it invisible to
the searcher. Shorter paragraphs and bullet points are easier to read, so online readers can easily
spot them on the page.

4. Web writing incorporates SEO for higher rankings

The main characteristic of web writing that makes it different from traditional writing is the use of
keywords the words and phrases most likely to be used by readers as they search for information on
the web. The right use of SEO, which is a keyword appropriation of about 2-4%, leads to high search
engine rankings which make the article or piece more visible to searchers. Too much keyword usage
can lead to low search engine rankings and lower visibility for a particular piece or website.

The Internet is an environment where we read and consume information in a manner that is
different from the traditional or conventional. However, with the Internet becoming the primary
mode of gathering information, knowledge of these patterns and behaviours is very important for
anyone aiming to get information out to readers online.