When writing an article in a newspaper , one needs to consider the audience , be mindful of the column inches assigned to them , dream up a headline to attract a reader and importantly deliver content that will keep the reader’s attention to the end.With Web writing , we have similar tactics to consider , however we have additional points that need to be factored in. We have a number of audience types to consider , namely Human Visitor , Search Engine Bot and Screen Reader .
For our Human Visitor , rather than us being mindful of column inches , we need to think about the length of the content vis-à-vis , the topic and the search intent of the visitor. A “How to” article will be longer than a “breaking news” , and different to an Ecommerce product description. Once we have an enticing Headline or “Title” we need to maintain the visitors attention. We also need to think about the Visitors “Search Intent” , which we will discuss later.
Whilst writing for a Human requires a structured flow , we will also need to assemble our content for the “non-human” automated visitors. Our content needs to have keywords relevant to our topic and we need to ensure we use HTML tags to make those stand out e.g. H1 , H2 headings .HTML has been around for 29 years and , in order to provide visual structure , tags were used. While we generally use WYSIWYG editors with popular CMS, Search Engine Bots and Screen Readers will use the tags to help index and present the information correctly.
A visually impaired visitor will use Software or Hardware screen readers when using the internet. They will use tags in a webpage to relay the information to the visitor. It is important that images , have captions related to their content.
Search Engine bots will visit a webpage or pages , take a snapshot , then use this information in its index. A complicated algorithm will determine when , where and at what level in search results to present the webpage.
HTML elements will help Search Engines to determine relevance , but the Google mechanisms need to determine the user “Search Intent” ( What kind of information do they seek ? ) based on language and positioning of action words. A great example is used by Google to demonstrate meaning . Here they show us the difference in potential search results presentation based on the language used by the visitor.
In recent years , Google has used additional information from a website to display “Featured Snippets” and “Rich Results” .
Featured Snippets are a goldmine for a webmaster , as it provides additional “search page landscape” that provides more information to a user. Google’s automation will chose and present the snippets. I setup carepack.ie and discovered the following “featured snippet” recently , constructed from a Q&A page.
Rich Results are based on structured data .Rich Results can present articles snippets, event information , Questions and answers , reviews , how-to & more. Google provides a detailed description of each set of parameters required in order for you to present your data correctly . These can be monitored from Google Search Console. You can also use Rich Testing to test your URL.
So in conclusion , when writing for the web , it is important to consider more than just your Human visitor to your website, you need to be very mindful of Search Engine bots and also visitors who may require some additional accessibility tools to help them consume your content.