Three Seconds to Go
Whether you are writing about a cure for cancer, five fun things to do in your hometown, or a Hollywood star’s most recent blunder, you have three seconds to capture your reader’s interest. According to Yahoo.com’s online style guide, it’s a busy three seconds for the reader.
Ready! Set! Go!
As soon as the page comes up, the reader scans from the top-left corner, across the center and then to the bottom of the page. With roving eyes, the reader searches for headings, boldfaced terms, and images. It’s a search to prove your page contains the much-needed information he or she needs. The online reader moves on if this three second search comes up empty.
Get to the Point
My journalism professor lived by the “Five-Word Rule.” He said your most important thoughts should be contained in the first five words of every sentence or paragraph. It tells the reader what you are talking about. It’s easier to read. Finally, it keeps the reader focused on what you are saying.
Say the Important Things First
The reader scans the top of the page first, so say the important things first, Yahoo says. You wouldn’t say, “Here is how the new auto inspection laws could affect your family.” Try this instead: “New inspection laws will change the way you drive.” Don’t make your reader wait while you build up to an important fact. Say it right away. Prove it and give the reader more important facts to consider.
Keep it Short
Online readers search for articles that can be quickly read, digested and understood in a few moments. So keep your writing short, Yahoo suggests. That means you should write with short sentences and short paragraphs.
Make it Easy to Read
Remember that you are the expert and your readers are not. That’s why they need your information. Use common language that everyone understands. This way the reader can travel through your copy more quickly. Readers are more likely to finish a quick read. Since your writing is easy to understand, the reader is likely to come back to you and the information you provide in the future.
Write More Than One Article
You need to write more than one article if you require more than 300 words to cover a topic. For example, you wouldn’t expect to cover all of Harley-Davidson’s 2011 models in 300 words. However, 300 words might be enough to whet the appetite of a Sportster enthusiast.
Yahoo! Style Guide