How to write successfully for the Web

Here's a method to write in a systematic way on the Web, and in particular to present a narrative, a presentation of an article, an idea. It is given to us by an expert of the redaction on the Web, Scott Smith in an interview with Search Engine Guide.

The rules of the method

1) Write naturally

The most common mistake when writing a page for the Web is to use a neutral style, even if you write for a major company. On the contrary, you have to be personal, write as you want to do and express what we feel. A personal style is what appeals most to readers.

Note that an article must always be written for the reader, not for search engines.

2) Define the title with great care

The most important in an article is the title. The title is advertising on the page, it must be catchy. Creating good titles is a challenge, a game which we must engage to promote its site. A good title is a phrase that makes one want to read the article, and choose it among others.

3) Define the content

Scott Smith has a very formal method to define the content of an article: you take a piece of paper that you share in two with a straight line, from top to bottom of the sheet.
- In the left column, make the list of each benefit to the user in that you describe.
- In the right column, make a list of each feature of that you want to present.
Make no order, but everything as it comes to your mind instead, and without any selection, put all what you think, even if it seems insignificant.

Then, put benefits and feature in order of priority. Select what is the best benefit, use it to the title of the article. Then use the list of benefits and features to compose the article, in the order you want.
Once this is achieved, you have to ask whether to create a single page or more.

4) Be modular

To the question whether it is better to write a long article or divide the page into several parts, there is no general answer. But it is at this stage that we can afford the SEO aspect. If the article can match different queries and these queries correspond to different parts of the article, then make a page for each part of the article.
For example an article is talking about PHP, how to use PHP for a form and how to deploy the script on the server, even if it is the same article, this may correspond to different queries, then make two pages.

You can see that we always end up also writing for search engines even if we have chosen to be personal!

5) Finally, think to search engines

Only when the article was written, you need to think more deliberately to engines. Have you thought to include all related keywords and all synonyms in the content? Add them, even at the cost of some minor modifications.

Reference: The full interview.

See also how to write for the Web, in the design section, the best structure for a Web page.