Writing for the Internet, whether you call it e-copy, web copy, web text, website content or whatever, is essentially a craft.

It is ordinary writing with a job to do.

If it means business you better write to grab their attention quickly, engagingly keep it and successfully lead them into taking some form of action.

Most websites contain copy written primarily for the benefit of the visitor. Websites however, really have two very different audiences: visitors and search engine-indexing spiders.

Writing for one takes a completely separate set of skills than writing for the other and may be best left to the talents of a professional web content writer. For now I will explore some basic rules that technical writers use for crafting their writing to serve both the engines and people.

In reality, it is perhaps more important that website copy satisfy the needs of the search engines. After all, in order to become visible to their second audience (the visitor) websites must first receive adequate rankings by their first audience (the search engines) and be listed near the top of the listing results, preferably within the first two pages.

Let’s first consider a website’s second audience, the visitor. Most website visitors come looking for something specific and they want it fast so the website better deliver. Writers must clarify their goals and understand the purpose of the website. The site’s “unique selling proposition” or USP must be in line with the visitor’s purpose for being there. Writers must know the type of person being targeted and write in a conversational style that is simple and direct.

Concise writing that gets to the point quickly and uses clear headings helps visitors.

We tend to read differently from computer screens than from other offline print mediums. Basically we don’t read we skim read, ignoring details to better our reading speeds. For this reason website text content must be more objective, more concise and easier to browse through.

The message must be written so it can be easily scanned. Every word on the page must fight for its rightful place and stay true to that old adage “less is more.”

The opening statement must first solve the visitor’s problem. The body of the page should then list the benefits, not the features.

Writers ask how the product or company features translate into customer benefits. What are the benefits for the visitor is choosing this product, service, etc.?

Navigating through web page content must also be intuitive for the visitor. Proven layout formats and conventions that most visitors easily understand work best.

Lastly, closing statements must offer an effortless “call to action” using the easiest, most direct route for the visitor to take, to get what they came for. The call to action must be clear-cut with rewards that are irresistible and reaffirms for the visitor why this is something they need.

Now that we’ve taken care of the visitor’s needs we still need to satisfy the site’s first audience.the search engines.

For most, this is a hidden problem when it comes to crafting their writing. What the search engines want is completely different from what visitors are looking for.

Search engine indexing spiders work primarily with text, visible HTML text that is. They simply cannot read flash, JavaScript, graphical text, etc. Web page text copy must therefore be placed within the html coding so that it is more accessible to the search engine spiders, more “search engine friendly” if you will.

But just as text copy must be properly placed within the html coding in order conform to the needs of the search engines, the writing itself, also needs to be “search engine friendly”. The writing needs to be keyword rich with relevant content that supports the keyword phrases being targeted within the page.

When a web searcher types in a “keyword phrase” the search engines try to match up web pages in the order it thinks are most relevant to the searcher’s request. Essentially, the search engines scan through their databases looking for web pages that contain the keywords used by the searcher.