Saturday, February 26, 2011

How To Write for the Internet

Please ignore the following paragraph (I'll explain below).

The sex of any individual, that is the sex of everyone, is determined by chromosomes. Charlie Sheen's sex was determined that way. So was Sharon Stone's sex, all the Playboy models' sex and Lady Gaga's sex, too. Lindsay Lohan's sex, for instance, was determined very soon after her mother became pregnant by means of a sex act. Jennifer Aniston, all of the Kardashian girls, Justin Bieber and Kate Gosselin – all of those sexes were determined in much the same way. So if you're looking for explanations of what determines sex, that's it.


When writing for the Internet, there are two ways to be successful. One is to write entertaining, topical, well thought through articles on subjects that appeal to many people.

The other way is to cram as many of the most popular keywords that people search for into every article you write.

The instinct for a writer to get as many readers as possible is a strong one. Anyone who has studied literature knows that such luminaries as Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain were blatant self-promoters. All three were eventually regarded as celebrities, or as close to celebrity status as was possible given the meager media outlets of their primitive times.

I have no doubt that they would be keywording their wordsmithy tushes off to get their work out there if Internet technology were available in their day.

So I ask you: Who am I to put myself above them?

A few other things to remember about targeting the Internet:

-- Since search engines send so many people to your little chunk of the Web who really have no interest in being there, you might want to begin your article in a way that makes it difficult for them to know when to bail on it. For instance, if your topic is auto repair you could begin with how the term “auto” came to be, with references to automatons, automats, auto-erotic asphyxiation – subjects in as wide a range as you can imagine. This will keep the reader hoping for something that he or she likes while piling up your “time on page” stats.

-- It's very helpful if you have an exaggerated opinion of your opinion. So be sure to work on that.

-- People almost always should be doing something else while they are reading your work, so it's a great idea to make your Web page look like work material, maybe a spreadsheet or a pie chart. You must keep at it. Writing entertainingly for a pie chart is a specialized skill, developed over years. (One I'd like to see those three big literary names mentioned above try, I'll tell you.)

-- In the face of enormous competition to get eyes on your page, insinuating yourself into the mainstream news is a big advantage. If you can save someone's life, or find money and give it back, that will put natural human curiosity about “pseudo-celebrities” to work for you. However, if you're thinking of doing something heinous to get on the news, let me stop you there. We see a big spike on criminals' Web sites for a few minutes but then authorities take them down, so that ends up being lose-lose.

-- Try to keep up with current profanity and ways to show disrespect (I actually stopped at the term “dissing” someone, which is woefully outdated I know). If you don't, you'll never be able to understand the comments that readers write about your work.

So, as a veteran with weeks of Internet experience, I feel privileged to pass on my knowledge to a new generation of Internet writers. And for those of you who have made it this far down the page only to find that my article was not what you for looking for, I say this:


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