online editing
Photo: Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash

making edits online

Well, yes. Making edits online is pretty much the most basic definition of what online editing is all about. If that’s all you need to know, then great! I’m happy to help.

But, before you go, I should mention that there’s actually a whole lot more to it than you might think.

For instance, did you know that online editing is a common job requirement within film and photo production? Editing film and images online is something that happens in the studio during the post-production phase. It is one of the most important parts of film and photo development. But film and images are not really what I’m talking about here.

I’m zeroing in on online editing as it pertains to website content management.

the editor’s job

The job of online editing falls to the online editor (ok, that one’s pretty obvious). But, just so you know, the person in charge of editing might also be called a web editor or even an online producer. So, you go ahead and settle on whichever title you like.

Essentially, online editing involves planning and curating content for a website as well proofreading text destined to be published online. An online editor has multiple roles. *They have to be aware of web traffic patterns and what kind of content draws readers to the website. Beyond that, they have to read and correct the work that content writers submit and determine whether the text layout makes sense and is easy to navigate.

why is online editing important?

Fun fact: our brains process online text differently than print text.

People read online text about 25% slower than print. So posts are often about 50% shorter on the web (Monster.ca).

Here’s what happens: we look at a webpage and see block after block of dense paragraphs. Our eyes glaze over and our thoughts turn to more pleasant considerations, like whether or not that glass of Chenin Blanc will pair nicely with the grilled calamari (Yes, it will!).

Looking at a web page overloaded with text is daunting. It’s hard to know where to begin and how to pull out the information you need. It’s the online editor’s job to make sure that the text is broken up and categorized logically under keyword-rich headings.

The fact that people read differently online does not mean that content writers should write less. In fact, we should focus on giving the reader more relevant details. The editor and writer work together to make sure that the final piece is a deep dive into a question that readers want answered.

a word about keywords

Remember the days when online text was almost unreadable because the same keyword was dropped into practically every sentence? Content writers needed to do that to make sure search engines found their posts. It worked out pretty well for the web bots, but reading that kind of post was painful for the rest of us. Thanks to updated search engine algorithms, content is judged according to how readable and useful the information is. Sorry bots, text is for humans.

Type “online editing” into a search engine and you should get the best posts first. “Should” is the operative word here. Search engines are still not perfect. It’s the editor’s job to work closely with marketing managers and content writers to ensure that each published post is readable, populated with the right keywords, and is also relevant and detailed.

By now you’ve likely clued into the fact that online editing is the ultimate multi-tasking role. Not only does it involve working with a team of varied professionals, it requires knowledge of video and image editing, too.

I know I said that I wouldn’t be talking about film and photo editing.

But I just have to mention that an online editor needs to understand where (and if) video and images should be used, and how to make them work within the page layout. Ok?

hold on … there’s more

An online editor must know the audience. What do they like to read? What sections of a website receive the most traffic? Think about internal links, too. After reading each post, editors ask themselves what else the reader might want to know that’s associated with that topic. They’ll search the entire website for other posts that answer that question and provide links to that other content. All of a sudden, that one post about a specific topic becomes a handy resource for the reader who might want to learn more.

Done right, online editing presents the reader with interesting content that inspires them to subscribe to the website and engage.

Need help with online editing? Let’s chat.

*Editor’s Note: I have opted to side with the Oxford English Dictionary and use “they” as a singular pronoun instead of the clunky “he/she”. We do it when we talk for a variety of good reasons. So why not use it when we write?

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