How to Write for Your Website

writing4web2smWriting for the web doesn’t have to be a long, difficult process. Because people read differently online than they do when reading print, it’s actually easier to get your point across online in a blog post or article. Readers on the web tend to scan a page rather than read every word in every paragraph.  Eye tracking studies show that they’re looking for keywords pointing to the information they need, and that they tend to read in an “F pattern“, meaning that they look for key words and phrases across the top of the page, another horizontal row under that, and the vertical column on the side.

Here are some hints to make your content easier to read on the web:

 Write using the “inverted pyramid” style. Begin with your main point and then support it with sentences that answer basic questions like who, what, when, where, why, and how.  When you’re done, state your conclusion and add more supporting information. Finish with a call to action, which tells the reader what to do next. Examples include “click this link to subscribe to my newsletter”, or “let me know what you think of this post by leaving a comment”.

Make sure your key words are in the header and title tag of the page. Google determines what an article is about by ranking the information contained in several different parts of your site. It considers keywords in the title and heading most important, followed by those in the body of the post, and those found in the sidebar and/or footer least important. That doesn’t mean you should just cram a bunch of keywords into your article without considering whether it makes sense (which may get you penalized by Google), just make sure that you express your point in a way that reads naturally and contains useful information. It will make your post easier to find in Google, which will in turn help your readers when they’re looking for an answer to a question or an article about a certain topic.

Use a picture that illustrates what you’re blogging about. Graphics will catch your reader’s eye faster than text and invite them to read more about your topic.

Use lists so that readers can pick out important points right away.

Highlight key concepts using bulleted lists, bold or italic text, or a change in color.

Use links to other sites to support your content. That way, readers can see that you’re not just making facts up off the top of your head, and you’re giving them an incentive to visit again when they need more information.

 

If you enjoyed this article or have questions/suggestions please contact me through the comments section.

What’s the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

As a web developer and trainer people ask me this question all the time. Here’s a quick explanation that will hopefully save you time, money and stress as you plan and create your site.

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WordPress.com (pictured above) is a site where you can create a blog or website about whatever subject you want using an easy and intuitive interface. All you have to do is sign up for an account and follow some basic steps. It’s not designed to allow you to run a bunch of supplemental programs, advertising, or other big drains on its bandwidth. Your options in terms of themes, plugins,widgets and level of storage space that you can use are limited to the ones approved by WordPress.com. You can sign up for a free blog or pay for extra features and varying levels of support by selecting one of their other packages. If you’re using the free site, your domain name will end with .wordpress.com (e.g. myblog.wordpress.com) unless you pay extra, you won’t have any control over advertising that shows on your site, be able to use GoogleAdsense to reach potential customers, track your site’s performance with Google Analytics, or access and manage your site using FTP. WordPress.com will, however, backup your site and upgrade the WordPress version whenever a new one is available.

 

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WordPress.org is an information site about self-hosted WordPress sites. Self-hosted means that its files reside on a server that you pay for.

If you pay a fee to a company like Bluehost, HostGator, or Network Solutions for web hosting,  have registered a domain name and have a WordPress program installed on your server, you have a self- hosted WordPress site and that you have control over what themes, plugins, advertising, and other programs you use. With a self hosted site, you can change settings on your WordPress setup to improve performance, use whatever themes and plugins you want, access and manage your site using FTP, and pretty much customize it however you see fit.

The tradeoff is that you are also responsible for your own maintenance. You’ll need to backup your site periodically, upgrade the WordPress version and any plugins that you’re using in order to keep your site safe from security flaws, etc.

In conclusion, which one you go with will depend on how much control you want over your site, how much you’re willing to pay to get it, and how comfortable you are with taking care of it.

Check Out My Social Media Classes

I’m teaching two classes for Albemarle County adult education. The first one is  called “Getting Started with Facebook” and it deals with Facebook basics. It will cover how to create, use and manage a personal Facebook page. I will also cover privacy settings, the Facebook timeline, social media etiquette and security. Thursday February 27, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Room 113, Albemarle High School.  The course # is 4052 and the fee is $19. This is a “hands on” course, so students must bring their own fully charged laptop. Please call (434) 975-9450 with questions.

Using Permalinks

A permalink is the url of a specific post on your blog, or a specific page on a static website.  Visitors to your site might want to use a permalink to link to a part of your site that they’re referencing in their blog or in an email.

Types of Permalinks

The default permalink structure in WordPress shows the main website name plus a number, like http://www.tonibdesign.com/?p=1.  These are often referred to as “ugly” permalinks because no one has any idea of the subject of the link or what it goes to.  Numeric permalinks, one of the custom styles that you can select on the Permalink Structure page, are also “ugly” for the same reason.

Permalinks that show the website name and the title of the individual article, post, or category being referenced are called “pretty” permalinks.  They’re much more desirable from a search engine optimization (SEO) viewpoint, because they give search engines more information to work with when calculating rankings for your site. For example, the permalink for this post is http://tonibdesign.com/2013/05/using-permalinks/.  Search engines will see the keyword “permalink” in the title, and mark this article as more relevant to someone searching for information about permalinks than a default permalink of http://www.tonibdesign.com/?p=1.

To Set Up Permalinks

  1. Click on the Settings link on the bottom right side on the Dashboard.
  2. Click on the Permalinks link on the submenu.
  3. Select one of the common structure options.
  4. Click the Save Changes button.

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After changing the permalink structure, you may need to update your .htaccess file.  You can do this automatically through WordPress, if it’s configured to do this, or  update it yourself using a text editor. The code to be added will appear in a text box below the update message. You can find instructions on how to update your .htaccess file here.

Once you have established your permalink structure, you should not change it, especially if you have a significant number of posts/pages/other links on your site. Updating permalinks to a new structure may involve placing a lot of redirect commands to your old content.

For more information, see the WordPress Codex page on Permalinks