Why the web?
Technology has created new opportunities for access to every kind of media. The music industry has been overhauled by the sale of MP3s on the web. Widespread internet access and the proliferation of e-readers are doing the same for written content. The web is not just a potential threat to traditional print journalism. It is an enormous potential market and no magazine journalist can afford to ignore it.
How is writing for the web different?
Reading on a computer screen is twenty five percent slower than reading print, and it causes eye strain. This means that articles should be short, so that they don’t cause the reader discomfort.
Web readers are looking for content that makes its point quickly. They scan an article. If the main points aren’t clear they won’t spend time trying to figure out your article.
Get found by search engines.
In print your audience is captive. The reader finds your article paging through a magazine. On the web you have to compete with the rest of the world for attention. You’ll get noticed if your article is found by a search engine.
How do search engines notice you? Search engines look for content in your article connected to a user’s search. It’s too complicated to process the whole article so the engine looks for key words. Key words are words in your article which are important to the topic of the article.
Writing to get noticed by search engines is called search engine optimisation (SEO). Identify key words for your article and emphasise them.
Break your article into chunks.
Do everything you can to make your article easier to read. One technique for this is chunking. Break your article into small paragraphs. Each of these paragraphs deals with a different sub topic from your article. This allows a reader to pick and choose. The reader can immediately identify which part of your article interests him/her. This saves the reader time, improving the chance that he/she will stay on the site to read your article. You can also link chunks concerning some sub topic to other articles you have written on that topic. (E.g. Click here to read more about chunking…)
Use a direct, descriptive title.
Poetic, obscure titles may be interesting in print, but they don’t work on the web. Titles have high priority for search engines and they should succinctly describe your topic. It’s also important to put keywords into your title.
Remember these five points for magazine journalism on the web:
- No magazine journalist can afford to avoid web writing.
- Web writing must be to the point.
- Write to get noticed by search engines.
- Chunk your article into short paragraphs covering different ideas.
- Keep your title simple and descriptive.
About Henry Steere
Henry lives in South Africa. He recently completed his MSc in mathematics. Currently he works as a data analyst and writes freelance articles. He is interested in mathematics and philosophy of science. Among other achievements he recently passed the Turing Test.
Photo credit: Alex Ziv