Writing for the Web Steve Buttry CBC Nov. 15, 2011
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Answer the 5 W’s• Who• What• When• Where• Why• How
Answer the 5 W’s• Who • Research• What • Writing• When • Ethics• Where • Links• Why • Visuals• How • Promotion
Who?• Research: Who’s playing? Who’s hot? Who’s not?• Writing: Characters• Ethics: Double-check spellings• Links: Artist page, bio, news stories• Visuals: Photos, videos• Promotion: Who cares about this?
What?• Research: Shows, songs, concerts, tours• Writing: Basic details, what happened, plot, conflict, resolution• Ethics: Fairness, tell the other side(s)• Links: Links provide background, context• Visuals: Photos, videos of actions, events, relevant objects• Promotion: Point of greatest interest
When?• Research: Verify dates and times• Writing: Not always chronological• Ethics: When did they know what?• Links: Previous events, future promos• Visuals: Timeline (Dipity, Memolane)• Promotion: Dates, deadlines
Where?• Research: Venues, hometowns, birthplaces• Writing: Setting• Ethics: Verify location info & spelling• Links: Venue pages• Visuals: Maps• Promotion: Venue, where to get tickets?
Why?• Research: Motivation, explanation• Writing: Theme, conflict• Ethics: Give subject chance to explain• Links: Other stories (even competition)• Visuals: Interview video, graphic• Promotion: Motivation of target audience (nostalgia, cool, romance)
How?• Research: Interviews; numbers (how much?)• Writing: Explanations, resolution• Ethics: Ask: How do you know that?• Links: Others may have explained• Visuals: Graphic• Promotion: How do I enter contest?
Focus your story• What’s the most important W?• Subject, verb, object• Summarize in 6 words
Start strongTell reader quickly what the story is about• Get to point in the first few wordsOR• Intrigue w/ initial words & make point soon and strong• Sometimes simple declarative sentence works best …
“In the beginning, God createdthe heavens and the earth.”
Writing exercise3 minutes non-stop writing on:1. Today’s workshop so far2. Why you like your favorite musician/group
Morning breakListen to musicians telling stories about music
Writing your blog• Think posts, not stories & columns. A sentence with a link, an embed or a question can be a post• Read aloud, listening to your “voice”• What’s most important? Start there• Get to the point.• Engage the community (question, poll, opportunity to participate)
Story structuresChoose the right form for your story:• Inverted pyramid• Narrative• Summarize, elaborate, summarize• Curation• List• Intro to video or other media
The blogging conversation• Crowdsource (specific questions: “Do you know anyone who …?” “Did you see …?” “Has this ever happened to you?”)• Consider ending post w/ question• Stimulate/continue conversation in social media• Engage with comments• “Don’t allow trolls or mean people to spoil the conversation.” Howard Owens
Blogs have a voiceNews voice (with thanks to Roy Wenzl): John Goode is an aspiringmusician who hopes to make it big someday, in spite of his origins inpoverty.He learned to play guitar while sitting beneath a tree in his nativeLouisiana. Train engineers, running freight on the tracks near NewOrleans, recall seeing him sitting under the tree frequently, strummingchords. Local residents living nearby say that he can play the instrumentunusually well.They also say that the youth, who lives in a nearby log cabin, and isilliterate, is so poor that he carries the instrument in a sack.One of the chief inspirations in his life is his mother, who has told him thathis playing is so good that he will probably draw large audiences when hegrows a little older. She has said she is sure the boy will see his name onnightclub marquees.
Keys to SEO• Relevance• Keywords in headline• Keywords in story (best in lead)• Understand how people are searching• Relevant links
Relevance rulesKeep SEO in mind as you write, but …• Relevance matters; popular but irrelevant keywords can hurt you• Quality matters• Social matters, too, and people share good reads• Relevance matters in links
Keywords in headline• What words would you use to search for this post?• Use those words in headline• If possible, start headline w/ key phrase• Check Google trends• Use full names• (VIDEO) in headline
Keywords in lead• Most important: good lead• Sharing drives traffic, too, so don’t write for search engine• Edit for search engine; would search terms help or hurt original lead?• If keywords don’t work in lead, be sure head is strong & use them high
Links help people find you• Relevant outbound links boost Googlejuice• Pingbacks bring you inbound links & boost Googlejuice• Add links as you do research• Use relevant anchor text (not “click here”)
Reach a wider audience• Effective use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, etc.)• Relevant comments (w/ links) on related blogs• Emails/tweets/#hashtags call to attention of influencers
Effective captions3 audiences• Search engines• Searchers• Those who’ve reached your page
Captions for search engines• Include relevant keywords, especially if it’s a video or slideshow & not photo accompanying story• If each photo is its own URL, each needs an SEO-smart caption• Add keywords in metadata
Captions for searchers• Keywords help it show up in search results• If caption is all I see in search results, does it tell me enough to make me click?• If I click, will I be pleased?
Captions for readers• Does it answer my questions?• Does it state the obvious? (If it needs to state the obvious for SEO, can you rewrite to work for search & reader?)• If in a photo gallery, does the caption stand on its own (it may be entry point)?• Does it invite me into the next photo?