Basic tip for Internet writers: Visitors don’t really READ what’s on your website

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If I could only share one or two “tips” for Internet writing, the most important would be this: Visitors who come to your website don’t really READ what you put on the website. I capitalized “READ,” because you need to keep an important distinction in mind between “READING” and “SKIMMING” or “SCANNING.” Website visitors rarely really read what you write — they skim through it or scan through it, picking up important words that catch their eye.

If you blog and have a faithful group of blog readers, they may focus more carefully on reading instead of skimming. If you have a marketing website, you can be sure they mostly skim or scan through the copy for the most important information they are seeking about what you are offering.

This most important tip leads to a second: Since people limit their interest in what you’ve written, you need to put the single most important point you wish to make at the beginning of the blog post or web page. You may even try to put it in the first title or “headline” on the page. If you’re coming to the Internet with a journalism background, you are very familiar with the “inverted pyramid” structure of a news story. That means the most important information comes first, with lesser information or supporting details coming into the story as you progress from the beginning toward the end. (It’s called “inverted pyramid” because the base or most important information is at the top, while the lesser or “smaller” stuff is on the bottom. Get it?)

Get to the point you want to make. Make that point first and make it the most “eye catching” point on the page/post. Say what else you want to say. Summarize or restate that main point. Quit writing.

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