Write For The Web

Write For The Web


Your Readers' Words Provide the Key to Building Your Site

Do you have your list of questions in hand?

To complete this step you will need to have taken the time to list the potential questions of your visitors. From these questions you can extract the keywords and key expressions that your readers will be most likely to use.

An extract from the manuscript of Jack Kerouac's
An extract from the manuscript of Jack Kerouac's "On The Road"

What kind of language?

The first thing to notice is that the language your visitors use is often not the language you would use. Identify and list the various ways that your readers name things, and the exact phrases they use to ask for them.

Key words and expressions your readers use

In your list of questions, you can start to regroup the words your clients use most often.

For example, what you might have written as "budget accommodation 500m from the train station", they may ask as "clean guesthouse in my town near the train station".  This divergence in the language of website readers and website creators is surprisingly common.

Try to mirror the expressions your visitors will use and recognize most easily.


Note that some keywords can be more important than others. Location is often crucial. Readers won't search for "great Japanese restaurant", they will look for "Japanese restaurant in Manhattan". The web is vast, and if you are a location-based business, mentioning where you are is essential. 

Keywords unique to you

It's also important to use words that represent the uniqueness of your business or activity. What makes you different and special? In marketing terms you might call this your niche. In SEO terminology, your "long-tail keywords".

For example, the things that travelers finds in a guesthouse that make them want to come back, such as live music, cooking classes, specialty deserts, or even something simple like a mountain view. These are all things that people will specifically search the web for.

Expressions your visitors will likely use on search engines.

The way a person asks for information when he talks or when he reads a website and when he asks a question on Google are often very different. It is your job to learn the language that your client will use in each of these cases and adapt your website to it. 

A common mistake: Keyword Stuffing

It can sometimes be difficult to resit filling your titles and other text with keywords you think Google "likes". 

But be careful - your readers will feel when you're talking to them, and when you're not. It's better to communicate genuinely with your readers than to try force feed search engines.

Google can also detect when there is an unusually high density of keywords on your page, and if that is the case it may never appear in search results.

Let your topic determine the other words: The lexical field

From the list of words that you have gathered from your readers you should select the ones that are most likely to be specific to the topic you are presenting. 

For example if I list the words: windshield, steering wheel, transmission, tire, road, viscosity, models.

And then I want to sell you oil. You would not make the mistake of thinking I was selling extra virgin olive oil, because all of the words that I have used previously fall into the lexical field for a vehicle. When writing for the web you need to keep the vocabulary you use clearly in the same lexical field :
This is how you help Google view your site as relevant.

>> Next, we'll look at how to

write your answers into the pages of your website >>

Keeping your vocabulary similar to your reader's is a way to ensure clarity
Keeping your vocabulary similar to your reader's is a way to ensure clarity
Photo by