Tip No. 5: Refine your prose.
Every good writer is an anal wordsmith at heart. That kind of attention to detail is especially important on the Internet, where only the most exquisitely refined prose can hold the wandering eyes and short attention spans of online readers.
In order to build a loyal fanbase, you’ll have to be mindful of three key textual characteristics as you prepare your written work for publication.
1. Sentence and paragraph length
Internet readers are looking for information they can digest in a short amount of time and with a minimal amount of effort. It’s your job as a writer to give them what they want—first and perhaps most importantly by pruning your sentences and paragraphs of unnecessary verbiage.
As a general rule, long blocks of text and convoluted grammatical forms turn readers off. By contrast, short sentences and short paragraphs—à la "Like this" above—keep readers reading. The more effectively you cater to the tastes of the masses, the more likely it is that the masses will enjoy your article from start to finish—and the more likely it is in turn that they’ll seek out your work in the future.
2. Rhetorical concision
If you’re like most writers, you love the sound of your own voice. If you’re like most good writers, though, you also know that your readers aren’t quite as enamored of your eloquence as you are. As such, it’s critical that you resist the temptation to indulge in linguistic flights of fancy—particularly when you publish on the Internet, where the average reader has neither the time nor the focus required to make it all the way through a 1,500-word opinion piece.
The best B/R standard-format articles are typically 500-800 words long; the best slideshows typically contain 75-150 words per slide. You don’t, of course, have to like the fact that the Internet has just about killed long-form journalism—but denying the truth won’t make it go away. For better or worse, the best way to get a point across in the twenty-first century is to make that point as succinctly as possible.
3. Keyword usage and placement
Keyword-rich headlines don’t by themselves guarantee search-engine visibility for published B/R articles; on the contrary, search-engine algorithms also factor the position and frequency of in-text keywords when determining an article’s placement in keyword-specific search listings. With that in mind, you should optimize each of your B/R submissions by...
(a) including your best keyword as the first word(s) of the text;
(b) including all of your primary keywords once each in the first paragraph of the text;
and (c) including all of your primary keywords at least 1-2 more times in the subsequent text.
It also bears noting here that many Internet readers skim online content by scanning from keyword to keyword and skipping the text in between. As such, the dexterity with which you insert and position keywords in your text will help you appeal simultaneously to search-engine algorithms on the one hand and human audiences on the other—and that, of course, is the ultimate goal for every serious content creator in the brave new world of cyberspace.