Writing for the web: it's all about search

Interesting to see Jakob Nielsen’s latest thoughts on the subject of writing for the web:

‘Web users are growing ever-more search dominant. Search is how people discover new websites and find individual pages within websites and intranets. Unless you’re listed on the first search engine results page (SERP), you might as well not exist. So, the first duty of writing for the Web is to write to be found.

I’ve written and delivered a few ‘writing for the web’ courses in my time; my more recent attempts have featured a chunk about search engines and SEO. I wonder how many ‘writing’ trainers include that? It’s a fine example of technical and creative skills meeting head-on.

Naturally, the inverted pyramid thing still applies… but I’ve always considered that to be basic ‘good writing’ policy anyway, regardless of the medium. It’s the concept of the search engine which marks ‘writing for the web’ out as being a new and different discipline.

Just as an aside… I notice that Nielsen’s approach to the URLs of his columns changed about a year ago, from a yyyymmdd.html approach to a ‘pretty URL’ based on keywords (chosen manually, I suspect). It’s a reminder that the Address Bar is another area for potential keyword loading. Use it wisely. (The WordPress blogging tool is especially good at this.)