Ease in Writing
Writing Tips from Full Circle Communications
April 2009
In This Issue
Web Writing Re-Visited
Web-Writing Resources
Attention, Authors!
Past Issues
Scan previous issues on such topics as design tips for writers and speechwriting.
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Ease in Writing?

"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Foot step chartNote he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just like dance lessons can help get you around the floor with your partner more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two each month so you can improve how your organization communicates in writing.
Web Writing Re-Visited
You know by now that the Web requires clear writing, "chunked" paragraphs, and brevity. But, wait, there's more.

Is it time to look at some of your pages that have been up for (ahem) a while?

Rachel Pastirik, president and lead architect of Netdrafter, uses this graphic to explain how to organinumeralsze content for a website.

Take-away message: Don't save your best stuff for last. Most visitors are skimmers who will move on if you don't catch their attention immediately.

She passed on a few other pointers:

4 main audiences: You have to know your audience--but what does that mean in a practical way? As a do-able task, she suggests planning for four types of users (for example, vendors, customers, competitors, staff members). Use focus groups or informal feedback to ensure they can easily find what they need on your site.

335 words: Very roughly, that's the "sweet spot" for word length per page. Too many words loses readers and dilutes search engine rankings. Too few words, especially on the home page (think all-graphic splash pages), means a search engine "misses" the page entirely.

3 keywords: Three keywords per page is, at this point, the optimum for search engines. Remember that search engines look at each page separately (versus an overall site). Don't put all your energy into the "About Us" page and skimp on everything else.

85% of traffic: According to Pastirik, 85% of search traffic is targeted. When people have searched and clicked on your URL, they already are interested in what you have to offer. As she noted, "Engage them when they get there--don't turn them off."

1 domain: Blogs are an inexpensive way to update content, engage readers, and, not incidentally, help with search engine rankings. Pastirik recommends integrating the blog within a website. Why direct visitors away to Blogger, Wordpress, or someplace else? Also, having the content under the same domain helps, yet again, with search engine rankings.

Quarterly or more: Small organizations and businesses should update, or at least review, their site at least once a quarter. Larger places will have the need and resources to update more frequently, weekly or even daily.

Web-Writing Resources
Online resources abound. Rachel Pastirik lists tips and common mistakes to avoid on her company's blog. She also recommends web-writing guides on sitepoint, useit, and grokdotcom.com.

To these, I would add the Web Style Guide and content-strategy.com.

Attention, Authors!
Have you written a book or article? Do you have a communications-related blog or newsletter? I would love to share the information with others. Let me know what you have created. I'll write about it (and link to it) in another issue of this newsletter.