Anita Stoner: Web Content Writing

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Presentation by Anita Stoner for the SIUC Web Conferece on August 10th, 2009.

Feed the robots, rock-m, sock-m web heads (and other web text tips).

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Anita Stoner: Web Content Writing

  1. 1. Feed the robots rock-m, sock-mweb heads<br />(and other web text tips)<br />
  2. 2. Types of Titles / Heads<br />Page titles you must write for search engines<br />Many systems insert your page-specific headline into the title tag<br />Page specific – write to elaborate<br />Subheads – add details and breaks<br />Local heads – the links your regulars /fans follow<br />Combos – may work well locally AND globally<br />
  3. 3. &lt;title&gt;Titles / Headlines &lt;/title&gt;<br />Page specific headlines <br />Can be different or same as titles<br />Head/Title all pages well for search (you may want to add Something-colon)<br />School of Journalism: Message from William Freivogel, the director<br />Post Entertainment: Celebrity critic Chick Flick pans “Tilt” movie<br />
  4. 4. Subheads<br />In traditional writing courses, teachers say “there are NO magic bullets”<br />In Web writing, bullets are MAGIC<br />Organize everything into short sections<br />Use lots of subheads<br />Use tons of bullet boxes<br />
  5. 5. Local headlines<br />Local headlines – The NEWS links you want your fans/regular users to find and follow<br />This audience types in, wanders in or has bookmarked your main page (pbpost.com) or a top section page (pbpost.com/sports/) to SCAN<br />A more creative head may attract the scanner to news items<br />You have less than 20 seconds<br />You may be less global or less keywordy<br />“Cole slaw: C’dale mayor chefs at homeless shelter”<br />Understand what makes your audience tick<br />Morgan Fairchild - NAKED!<br />
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  8. 8. On local or fan user pages…Headline Writing as Poetry<br />“The headline writer is the journalist most like the poet, stuffing big meaning into small spaces.” -- Poynter Institute<br />Creative heads draw clicks from your regulars:<br />Clever<br />Catchy<br />Balanced with title/ searchhead writing that is<br />Clear<br />Concise<br />Precise<br />Informative<br />
  9. 9. Review Example<br />First consider the basic who what etc.<br />The lead singer for Molly Hatchet died from diabetes complications<br />The band’s big hit was “Flirtin’ with Disaster”<br />Remember, search engine recognition and creativity draw two different types of clicks <br />NOTE: Because of space restrictions, the head has to fit in just four words. <br />Identify which is what type of head:<br />Diabetes -- not Disaster -- kills<br />Molly Hatchet mourns lead<br />Diabetes kills Hatchet man<br />1. subhead 2. title/search 3. local<br />
  10. 10. Combo heads<br />Sometimes a title/head works well for local audiences AND search<br />My all time favorite example works well for BOTH search engines and for the home page…. consider reading this on a high school newspaper home page<br />How to get served alcohol underage<br />
  11. 11. Headline Writing as Poetry (a creative tip)<br />Play with words, sometimes even for serious stories<br />PLAY, meaning choose words the average writer avoids <br />But, words the average reader understands.<br />Jubilant mob mauls four dead Americans<br />What word makes this headline distinct?<br />Also, invite the user to an experience<br />Explore the space station with seven former astronauts<br />
  12. 12. Description Text<br />The best systems give you a little box to type into<br />but sometimes they just rehash<br />You may have to stick it in the meta-info yourself<br />This is what search engines stick under the result <br />Another place to put the most attractive catch-phrases<br />“how to make a peanut butter banana sandwich”<br />
  13. 13. Readable Text on the Pages<br />Shoot straight to the point<br />Cut excess, be specific / CONCISE<br />Offer visual cues (bullets, boxes)<br />Stay focused – kill verbose text<br />Provide links<br />The “right” amount<br />
  14. 14. Traditional Writing Sample<br /> Southern Illinois is filled with nationally recognized events that draw large crowds of tourists every year. In 2002, some of the most popular events were the Big Muddy Film Festival (25,000 attending), the DuQuoin State Fair (75,000), the SIU Salukis (140,000), Sunset Concerts (83,000) and Parade of Lights (18,000).<br />
  15. 15. Rewriting for the Web: Bullets Scan<br />Southern Illinois is filled with nationally recognized events that draw large crowds of tourists every year. In 2008, some of the most popular events were <br />SIU Saluki games (140,000)<br />Big Muddy Film Festival (25,000)<br />DuQuoin State Fair (75,000)<br />Sunset Concerts (83,000)<br />Parade of Lights (18,000)<br />
  16. 16. To the Web: Concise, Objective, Scannable<br />In 2008, top events in Southern Illinois included:<br />SIU Saluki games<br />Big Muddy Film Festival<br />DuQuoin State Fair<br />Sunset Concerts<br />Parade of Lights<br />(or title a box, Southern Illinois: Top Events)<br />
  17. 17. Academy–speak example<br /> …In fact, the revisions are less changes, than they are re-conceptualizations and the development of a new distribution system for getting information about campus events to you and your students. <br />Translated: <br />An intern will send you information about campus events.<br />You will change the assignment <br />
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  19. 19. The Conceptual Change – What we Call it and Why that Matters<br />Although in our documents to you, we are now calling it the “co-curricular requirement,” we would like for individual instructors to consider renaming it in a way that makes sense for your own individual courses. For instance, because my course is themed heavily on the idea of community as it relates to success and learning, I may choose to call it the “Community and Culture” requirement. <br />
  20. 20. How to change the Co-curricular or “Passport” requirement<br />1. Rename it in a way that suits the theme of your course<br />
  21. 21. We suggest this renaming possibility because we are trying to find ways to embed co-curricular occasions into the heart of courses, rather than have them feel like “add-ons,” disconnected to course theme, etc. This is a disconnection we (and our students) have struggled with in the past. In fact, we hope instructors will help us begin thinking about the ways in which we can use co-curricular events, not to meet simply a goal of having students “participate in co-curricular events” but to meet one of our other learning outcomes for INQ 101 (I will be sending more information about thoughts on this soon)<br />
  22. 22. 3. Ask students to attend events that match up with one of the learning outcomes<br />
  23. 23. This doesn’t mean you can’t just call it the “Co-curricular Requirement.” You can, if you’d like. We are just suggesting you consider renaming it based on theme and begging you not to call it “The Passport Program.” <br />
  24. 24. 2. Do not call it the “Passport Program”<br />
  25. 25. While you can certainly have students do what many of us did last year – require them to attend a certain number of events in each category – we ask you to consider re-imagining this by linking either certain categories or events more closely to your course theme.<br />
  26. 26. 4. Require events that pertain to your course theme<br />
  27. 27. How to change the Co-curricular or “Passport” requirement<br />1. Rename it in a way that suits the theme of your course<br />2. Do not call it the “Passport Program”<br />3. Ask students to attend events that match up with one of the learning outcomes<br />4. Require events that pertain to your course theme<br />
  28. 28. More Writing Tips<br />http://jrnl.siu.edu/~stoneranita/312/<br />Poynter’snewsU: http://newsu.org<br />Cyberjournalist.net and others<br />

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