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The World Wide Web:
A Writer’s Guide from a Design Guy

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos, Partner

29 March 2017

When you structure your content correctly, you’ll maximize the amount of text people read. And when you improve the readability of that text, you’ll increase both comprehension and retention. As a bonus, when you do both, your SEO score will increase naturally.

Structuring your Content

As early as 1997, the Nielsen Normal Group reported that web users don’t read copy.

Their advice at the time — long before SEO became the buzzword that it is today — was this:

  • Write overt headlines and subheadlines
  • Ditch promotional or “clever” writing styles
  • Include and highlight relevant keywords
  • Link to credible sources

In short, help users skim your text so they can find what they’re looking for.

Subsequent studies showed that:

Improving Readability

Once you’ve properly structured your content, the next step is to maximize its readability. Why? Because you don’t want to lose people when you finally have them.

You can do this by:

Final Thoughts

In an era in which everybody is a content developer — when we’re all blogging, publishing case studies and white papers online, engaging audiences on social media, populating detailed knowledge bases, FAQs, and more — we often wonder why our readers still haven’t gotten the memo, and are largely clueless in spite of our best efforts to educate, inform, and entertain.

But maybe it’s we who haven’t gotten the memo.

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

About the Author

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos is a Partner with O’Brien Communications Group (www.obriencg.com), a business-to-business brand-management and marketing communication firm with responsibilities ranging from brand creation and creative concepting, to graphic design, web development, and more. He’s also an experienced teacher/trainer, presenter, a newbie dad, and is active in a number of communities and forums — online and in the real world — dedicated to helping others achieve their goals.

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