If one writes online, it doesn’t automatically reflect negatively on the capability of such one. The online writer may have ample credentials and experience and perhaps a natural flare to write. For instance, a person may have led a professional life and is now retired or out of work. He (or she) might not have taken up writing outside the online sphere, but here is an opportunity to see how successful he will be. No, anyone who argues no online writers are as talented-as special-as other writers is not thinking correctly.
Despite the above statements, there are decided weaknesses, decided shortcomings, to writing online. How is that? Those who write online for fiscal gain are controlled by those providing their paycheck. Providers expect the writings they pay for to be found by the search engines. They expect not only that the writings will be found, but that they will be found by an appropriately large audience; this is pretty much a given. What’s wrong with that? Where is the weakness in that?
SEO and Writing References and Looking for a Needle in a Haystack
In order to be found by the important search engines, one must write with SEO-Search Engine Optimization-in mind. To write with SEO in mind, one must use tight, relevant writing-writing rich in valuable words and phrases that search engines are designed to find. In the past, search engines were not as discriminating as they now are. One could repeat the same word an inordinate number of times in an article, and such poor writing would float to the top of a search like cream on unhomogenized milk. This has been a terrible weakness of much online writing, though fortunately, that weakness is on the decrease. Still, it exists. Superior writing is not rewarded by the search engines 100 percent of the time.
References are required by reputable sites to demonstrate where the writer’s information is coming from. This is a good thing, and in itself is not a weakness. However, many sites desire online references, which they can easily check, perhaps by means of an editor who does not have access to other publications and isn’t allowed very much time to review an article. The site may frown upon the use of printed reference materials. This means the material used as a reference is already online, and the new article contains, at least to a degree only repeated information.1
So the necessity of applying imperfect SEO and the requirement of using only online references weakens the value of online writing, even if only minimally in the best offerings. Yet there remains the “looking for a needle in a haystack” issue. The more articles that are put online-especially those of low quality and mere repetition of information-makes it harder to find original information pieces. Such valuable first-hand information can be buried under a lot of articles that may not even “translate” the facts accurately. Such original work may actually rank lower in the search engine results than the poorer quality remake, simply because the SEO of the remake is superior.
Do the Strengths of Online Writing Outweigh the Weaknesses?
There are strengths that are unique to online material. To those who know how to utilize search engines, valuable answers may be quickly found that could take considerable time with print publications. In addition, the cost may be considerably less, since travel time and publication purchase is generally not required. Search engines are constantly being improved to assure better-written pieces appear at the top of searches. Better screening by online sites could assure improved writing. Unfortunately, this could remain one of the greatest weaknesses of online writing.
1 The expertise of the individual writer should be mentioned, as what he may personally offer through his credentials does add value to the internet.
Addendum: Some topics are less popular than others. Unfortunately, even though a subject may be quite important, it may not draw a large audience. Despite that, and no matter how well-written an online article may be, it may be declined by the editor or administration of the online site. This is a severely weak aspect of online writing.