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July 14, 2016

3 Best Practices for Writing Content on the Web

by Donna Huber

web writing

A few weeks ago I took an online course offered by HubSpot Academy. I thought one of the classes was particularly applicable to book bloggers. It was about creating remarkable content and offered a number of tips that amounted to best practices for writing for the web.

1. Pick a topic and a title

Picking a topic is often easy for book bloggers - it is the book they just finished. There are other topics that book bloggers can write about: author news and interviews, recommended reading and other themed lists, how to fit reading into busy schedules, etc.

A title can be a bit more of challenge.

You want your title to contain keywords that people would use when searching for the topic of your post. For this post the title could be 'web writing best practices' (this is the title I started with, we'll see if it makes the cut in the end), 'how to write an outstanding post', or 'tips for writing on the web'.

It is best to start with one title and then after the post is written go back and optimize it. You want to make sure what your readers will be getting from the post is stated in your title.

One last tip about titles: Shorten the title so that it will show up in its entirety in Google search. Currently Google only shows between 50 and 60 characters when it returns search results.

If you can't get it below 60 characters, make sure the most important words are at the beginning of the title.

Read more: What to Title Your Posts
tips for writing blog posts

2. Format and optimize your post

You always want to focus first on writing quality content, but once you have a great post written you should consider the design.

If you have been looking for information about web writing, then you know about using headers, number or bullet lists, white space, bold text and images to make your content easier and more attractive to read. These are particularly important if you write longer content.

If you are interested in how many words a post should be, read Copy Blogger's statistics on content word count. It boils down to people are busy so only write as many words as is required to get your point across.

In the course I took, they mentioned two more features that are important for SEO when formating web content: long-tail keywords and internal/external links.This is the opitmization portion of the design.

What is long-tail keywords and how should it be used in web writing?
Are you scratching your head at 'long-tail keywords'? Don't worry; you're not alone, which is why I wrote a post on keyword SEO basics. Whereas a keyword may be a generic word or phrase,  long-tailed keywords is more specific and is usually a phrase. For the example, if the keyword for your post was romance novels, you probably won't rank very high in search results because it's too broad. A long-tail keyword would be steamy romance novels.

You want to make sure you are using your long-tail keyword/phrase in:
  • page title
  • url
  • post title
  • image alt-text
  • headers
  • the body of the post. The phrase/words should be used naturally. You don't have to repeat the exact phrase or word, use synonyms.
When writing for the web you should include links to other material.
The one optimization trick that book bloggers most often miss is the inclusion of links to other content. You might include a link to Amazon or other retailer or perhaps link to Goodreads for people to read the summary, but that's about it.

The instructor of the class recommended 1 - 2 links per paragraph. I think that might be a bit much for a book review. Yet, I do think reviewers can include 3 - 5 links per post.

You will want a mix of internal links (content that is on your site) and external links (content on other sites). So far I have included 6 links to other content in this post. Four are internal links to other content on Girl Who Reads and two are external links.

Internal links keep people on your site, while external links help increase your page rank score.

Have you reviewed other books by the same author or perhaps you ran an interview with the author. Linking to those posts are great options for internal links. As for external links, most authors now have a website or blog and you can link to those (if you can find a specific post where the author talks about the book, it would be better than just link to the homepage). Also you can look for interviews or guest posts the author has done and link to them.

For links to really help with SEO, you should link text that also includes your long-tail keywords or pertinent to the content you are linking to. Do NOT use 'click here' or other variations. For examples of better text linking, see my examples in this post.

3. Include a Call to Action (CTA)

After reading your post, what do you want people to do? If it is a book review and you are an Amazon affiliate, you more than likely want people to go to Amazon and buy the book. In this case your CTA may be 'Buy Now at Amazon'.

A CTA can be a button, a link, or even an image. Try different ways of presenting your CTA to see what works best for you.

Other CTAs may be signing up for your mailing list or following your blog. These CTAs can be in your post or in the side bar. Typically they occur at the end of the post, but you can have a CTA after the first few paragraphs that is in the form of  a passive link. A passive link CTA usually starts with 'learn more', 'read more', 'get info', etc.

CTAs typically lead to a landing page, but book bloggers do not typically have an offer that fits a landing page. However, if you offer something in exchange for signing up for a newsletter, then you may want to consider creating a landing page. But that is a post for another day.

So there you have it: 3 Best Practices for Writing Content on the Web. Whether you are writing a book review, a how to article, or an interview, incorporating these elements into your post will help get your content found, read, and shared.

Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres, but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances.

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  1. This is such a great and useful post. Thank you! I tend to get too wordy and have been trying to work on that but fail so often. Such as in this comment. haha

    1. I can be a bit wordy myself. The important thing to keep in mind is 'are the words repeative filler or truly needed to convey useful information?' If the former then use that delelte key! lol

  2. It's mind-boggling how complicated SEO is these days. This helps a lot. Thanks!

    1. Yes. It can be, especially when changes are made to the algorithms because people are trying to cheat the system.

  3. These are all great tips, Donna, thanks for sharing them.
    I might like to add a couple:
    - Put also at least one high quality image, as it's nice for the readers and great for SEO purposes. Check the copyright if it's taken from the web, that's really important to avoid problems.
    - Try to place at least two links within the post: one leading to another site (possibly a trusted one) and one that leads to another post of the same site/blog. Look at the consistency: articles have to be somehow related to the main topic of the post, otherwise don't link anything.

    Hope it makes sense and adds something valuable to your brilliant post.


  4. Your posts are always so useful. Thank you for sharing!

  5. The call to action is critical. One of the better reads I've had this week. Thanks!