On the webpage: reading, words and white space
I don’t remember much about Lisa-Marie Presley's life other than her grungy black eyeliner and troubled first marriage. Her next husband was Micheal Jackson. And that left us all scratching their heads for a second.
"And..." you ask? Well, she's famous but for the most part she kept out of the spotlight. We only noticed her when she got it wrong. The way you offer your words on the page is the same. No-one arrives on your page and thinks, "Hmm, impressive formatting!"
But when you make it harder for people to 'do it' online, they notice. Their reactions will vary but it usually ends with a frown as they leave your website unsatisfied.
Heading 1, Heading 2 etc - Use the drop down box called ‘Style’ in your editing tool bar. Just making headings bigger and bold isn't enough. Allocating a heading using the website’s ‘style’ helps search engine crawlers and assistive technologies understand what is important on the page.
Don't manipulate this by over stuffing key words in your headings, your ranking in search results will suffer. Keep it natural and descriptive, with a focus on your audience.
Here are the main tactics you should use when writing for the web:
get to the point quickly – in the paragraph and in your sentences
write in everyday language
use small paragraphs and short sentences
if you offer more than two options, use dot points
stick to the topic
leave people with somewhere else to go on your site
link to relevant and trustworthy information
White space doesn't have to be white. But use the space on the page to create room around the words that are important. Your reader has a short attention span so white space makes it easier to scan and pick out the 'must know' content.
Watch this video on eye tracking research by Normal Neilson Group. Then edit your content using the layered cake strategy to help your audience find and read the content on your page.
If you are writing naturally, you should already be using the key words and phrases for the topic. But sometimes we are too close to see it and our jargon sneaks in. Or some people think they can con Google and achieve a first page result by stuffing key words throughout your text. Maybe in 1996...
Try analysing keywords first. The words the audience is writing into Google's search bar are probably not the same as your industry jargon or your witty play on words.
Next write. Then check that the appropriate key words appear naturally in:
the page title
the main text close to the top of the page - key words will help describe the page content
at least a couple of times on the rest of the page - this can include variations and sometimes headings but remember to keep it natural
in alt text for your images - where you describe your image for screenreaders
in the URL path - the little section after your domain name - eg www.socialanimals.com.au/words-and-whitespace (and use dashes between the words, not underscores or capitals).