Online vs. Offline Writing
I’ve heard some seasoned journalists (newspaper reporters, magazine columnists, etc) complain about the transition to web writing because the style is so different. A clever title that would work great in a mag wouldn’t be as successful online because it isn’t “keyword friendly”.
The opposite is true for some who only have experience writing online. I’m wondering if the styles of writing for online vs. offline publications will begin to blend as more publishing mediums become present online, or if the styles will drift further and further apart. Any thoughts?
Great topic– one that’s often addressed during the #journchat and #editorchat chats on Twitter.
I think that the differences between online and offline writing aren’t just about keywords, though those are definitely important for writers and editors working on online platforms to think about. Online writing tends to be tighter and more concise; feature length pieces that run over 1,000 words are pretty rare. But I also think that there’s as much variation among print magazines and among online publications as there is between them. Consider the style of writing you’ll see in Travel+Leisure, for example, compared to Oxford American. Or the differences between the travel narratives on Matador and those on other online platforms. It always comes back to core audience, core values, and primary goals of the publication.
That’s true- not all glossies are the same! I imagine if someone can handle writing for a newspaper and a magazine, they can handle web writing too. Plus mixing it up can be good- like a romance novelist who reads thrillers and mysteries too. Reading/writing outside of your genre can be very stimulating.
One way you can get around the SEO vs. clever question, is to extend the title for online linking with a little subhead.
When you have a title which is super cute or punny, you can include a few words in parentheses or at the end with a brief explanation of what the article is about, for online links and the title bar of the HTML page. You can do even better than that in the Meta tags. Most search engines give higher ranking to keywords in links.
An example of this in action would be if you wrote an article on say, anything called… “True Blue”
That title is cute but doesn’t tell you jack about what you’re getting if you were linking through to it. And in a search engine, can you even imagine how many “True Blues” there are?
So what you can do is add some text before or after.
e.g. True Blue: 10 Classic Pairs of Jeans for Every Body Type
or True Blue – Surf, Kayak and Sail the Atlantic This Summer
or True Blue – Blueberry Season in Hammonton, NJ
or whatever… as long as you throw in a few words about the actual content of the story, you’ll be good.
I’ve started doing the above (that tricia mentions) on all posts now, I just use a separator and add in what it is I’m talking about and the location.
Award Winning Design – is now Award Winning Design | Red Dot Museum | Singapore
The 8th Wonder of the World is now – The 8th Wonder of the World | Angkor Wat | Cambodia
Helps a lot with the search engine rankings as the title tag is the highest priority and the first thing people see, Award winning design or 8th wonder could be a huge number of things between them, but the newer titles show exactly what the webpage is about.