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Writing for the Web

By Gina Vasselli
Mar, 19, 2012

Coming into this business I would have never realized how much of what we have to do on a daily basis involves writing—writing blog posts, writing site content, writing descriptions, and more!
It’s given me a pretty good appreciation for the things that just won’t work when you’re trying to sell your site or brand as an authority.

Writing Tip 1: Voice
You want to have a specific voice for a site. It’s part of the branding for your company so think carefully about how you want to come across.
Here’s a couple examples:
“If you want customer service dedicated to giving you fun in the sun, Generic Hotel can give you the best vacation ever!”
“At Generic Hotel, our courteous and dedicated staff can meet your every need”
“At Generic Hotel we’ll treat you like family, but better because we can’t kick you out once you start getting on our nerves”
These messages convey basically the same generic message about customer service. But the voice and message is very different, giving the sentences and therefore the site very different feels.

Writing Tip 2: Sentence Structure
It’s probably a holdover from my days in journalism, but I think simple sentence structure is the best way to go. It keeps people from getting confused about what exactly you’re trying to say.
Example:
“At Generic Hotel, our staff can meet any need customers throw at us, from booking a charter fishing trip on the Atlantic Ocean to creating a luxurious spay day for a mother-daughter retreat and much more.” 
This sentence, while it gets the point across, kind of confuses the main message with lots of details.
I would rewrite it instead to say:
“At Generic Hotel, our staff can meet the needs of any customer. Whether you’re looking to book a charter fishing trip or have a mother-daughter spa day, we can help!”

Writing Tip 3: Goals
I think the main reason people get tripped up when it comes to writing content for the web is they don’t really have a reason for writing or, if they do, it gets lost somewhere in the midst of their trying to figure out how to formulate the words.
Think about what you want someone to do with what you’re writing. If you’re writing a hotel resort description, you want someone to choose your hotel above the others so you want to highlight the things that will make someone choose your hotel over the other choices. If you’re writing a blog post for the same resort, your ultimate goal is the same—you want someone to choose your hotel over another. But you’re also writing for people who may have already booked your hotel and are looking for information about what’s going on there. To do that you’ll need to write a mix of “this is why you should book here” and “this is what’s going on” which is actually not too difficult to do if you tie the two together.
If you keep your goal in mind when you’re writing, you wind up with a much more focused and polished piece of writing.

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