Web Writing

Let’s talk about how to write headlines; how to write headlines for SEO; how to use hyperlinks; how to write for social media; and how to write for a website.

Headlines

“Let’s put it on our website.” The refrain is increasingly common, but, as always, there’s a right way and a wrong way.

An amateur will do what’s easiest: Copy and paste. But a pro knows that merely to copy and paste is to deprive readers of the web’s richness. Shifting copy from dead trees to web browsers is both art and science.

The art: To write for the web, you need to be not only a writer, but also a marketer, a designer, and a publicist. The science: To write for the web, you need to understand how people read on the web.

To this end, we’ll review the differences between reading something designed for a monitor and something designed for print. We’ll walk through the best practices of web writing. We’ll study a variety of good and bad examples. And we’ll intersperse exercises throughout so that you learn by doing.

By the end of this workshop, you’ll:

  • Know how to craft and test powerful headlines

  • Understand how to satisfy your readers’ cravings for visual cues, such as lists, bullets, tables, and headings

  • Understand the importance of images

  • Write in a web-friendly tone


Headlines for SEO

It’s one of the 21st century’s truisms that in addition to writing for one’s mom, today’s writer must also write for Google. Yet, as always, the devil’s in the metadata.

The secret of SEO is that every online article requires two headlines: The first is for the wordsmith in you — loaded up with wit, irony, and humor — while the second is for Google — loaded down with straightforward keywords.

We’ll review how the leading websites pull off this balancing act — and how you can, too.


Hyperlinks

The best links are woven seamlessly into a sentence.


Websites

This is what happens when you let an engineer write your website copy: “Sorry, this page isn’t available The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.”

Gee, thanks. Couldn’t you at least have displayed a list of similar pages? Maybe linked to some frequently asked questions? At the least, you could have expressed a witty apology or summoned a brand-appropriate quote. And, if all else fails, bring forth a kitten pic!

This is why every website needs a wordsmith: To convert errors and necessary evils and other common, often-overlooked functions into opportunities.

To this end, we’ll walk through 30+ examples of error pages, tip jars, donation forms, calls for comments, and e-newsletter sign-ups and unsubscribe requests. We’ll analyze what works in each example, extract a series of best practices, and craft unique, brand-appropriate calls to action for your own website.