The invention of the internet signalled the beginning of a new ‘democracy’ for writers. No longer did writers have to wait for a publisher to agree to publish their work, but rather we are now all free to write on forums, start our own blogs, write comments on other people’s blogs, submit articles to article directories, post notes or rants on our social networking sites, or just start up our own websites.
This is a great way for ‘the people’ to identify the content they want to read, rather than waiting for some publisher to provide us with what they think we want to read. This has resulted in such phenomenons as the “Stuff White People Like” blog, which has now become a book, and also a much less frequently updated blog, I assume because the writers are too busy with their new found fame. The ability to get a book deal from a blog was showcased in the ridiculous example of ‘This is why you’re fat’, a blog which relies on submitted content from the public, and which got a book deal within 3 weeks of being established!
The downside to all this new content online is of course the deterioration of quality – something that the big publishers, like newspapers, have been harping on about recently. By removing the need for publishers to approve our content, we also removed the requirement for editing, which has resulted in a lower quality of content. However, while the internet is being spammed with newly created content every second, there is still quality content out there, and the ‘democratic’ nature of the search algorithms hopefully means that it is easier to find than the spammy stuff.
So, what is the point of this rant? First of all, to demonstrate how anything at all can be published on the internet, and second of all to make a quick list of things you need to do to separate your content from the millions of spam pages online:
- Make sure you have basic grammar and spelling down pat. Not only will bad spelling and grammar turn your readers off, it can damage your brand and make you look unprofessional.
- Remember that online readers are likely impatient readers. Make your content concise – and no I don’t teach by example. (Although these bulleted points are a last ditch attempt at that).
- For SEO reasons, you might like to use relevant keywords in your content. Don’t stuff them in there! It can be discounted by Google, and will most certainly be disliked by your reader. It makes your content look like advertisements, and will reduce the likelihood of readers returning.
- Use structure where possible – headings, bullet points, etc. If your headings are relevant, this may also help with SEO.
- It might be obvious, but like any journalist – put your most important facts at the top of the page. Assume people aren’t going to read the whole thing.
- Use description. If you are talking about your flower shop, be descriptive – our fresh flower shop, our North Sydney flower shop, our discount flower shop, etc.
- Although I am sure most quality writers won’t do this, I just want to reiterate, because nothing looks spammier – don’t use a lot of exclamation marks!!!!! or even question marks!???