Shape Your Content for the Web
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Content is king, but it's meaningless if your visitors don't want to read it. How do you keep them from clicking the back button and going to another website? Give them content in a way that makes them want to stay and read. Here's how.
Impatient web surfers often don't want to spend a lot of time reading text on a website. Online reading still isn't as comfortable as reading a book or a magazine, so attention spans are naturally shorter. If you want to get your message across, you must make it easier to read. That doesn't mean talking down to your audience or using short words; it means formating your text to make it easy to pick out the important stuff.
The ideas I'll discuss here were mentioned by Stoney de Guyter writing for Search Engine Guide. He thinks of it as teaching your content tricks that will make your audience want to read it. I think of it more as finding the skeleton in what you've written and making sure it's visible. Either way, the result is the same.
Use section headings
Remember when you wrote research papers in school, and your teacher made you write an outline? You probably got sick of Roman numerals and capital letters and the various ways you had to show your topic broken down. Guess what? Your teachers are about to get their revenge, because you need to use the same principles when you're writing for the web.
In other words, you need to break your main topic down into smaller topics. If you're going to write about five great safety tips for Halloween, each of those tips deserves its own section heading. Even if you're only going to spend a paragraph or two discussing it, you should still use a short heading that sums it up. Under the heading, you can explain the tip and why your reader would want to use it.
Your reader, in turn, can judge from the heading whether they need to read the rest of the tip (they may already be aware of that particular precaution, for instance). And they'll be grateful that you're not wasting their time by forcing them to wade through something they already know just to find the meat.
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