Write great website copy

The copy is probably the most important aspect of your website design because it communicates important information about your business to your customers and prospects.

Writing for the web is a lot different to everyday writing. Web users read the content of websites very differently to the way they would read a newspaper or book, and you need to be aware of this when you are copywriting for your website.  You need to take into consideration the fact that people are scanning your site quickly rather than reading it word-for-word. This means that you need to write clearly and concisely and keep it as simple as possible.

You should do the following for your website copy:

  • Use keywords
    Your copy is important because Google uses it to rank your page in its search listings. Using and repeating keywords throughout your content will make your Google ranking higher, so find out what words your target market search by and incorporate these. Put your keywords in important places like the page title, headings that are formatted differently to the body text and hyperlinks. Try to use keywords three times in the body copy of each page and remember to bold them so they are easy for users and search engine crawlers to find.
  • Include hyperlinks in the text
    All internet users know that they can click on hyperlinks to access more information when they are reading a webpage. So make sure you include hyperlinks throughout your text so site visitors can easily access other parts of your site for more details. Hyperlinks allow you to keep the information on the web design brief and succinct then direct the reader to somewhere else if they require in-depth information. Also, make sure the text that is hyperlinked looks 'clickable' so users know they can click on it.
  • Use meaningful headings and subheadings
    The key to successful copywrting for the web is navigation. Readers don't want to spend time searching through the text to find what they want - they want to be able to glance quickly at your page and be directed to the correct place. So, make your content easy on the eye and simple to navigate by using headings and subheadings.When you are compiling your copy, break it up into logical sections then devise short, descriptive headings and subheadings for each section. When you are putting the copy on your webpage, make sure the headings and subheadings stand out from the rest of the text - make them bigger, a different colour or bold.
  • Use bulleted lists
    Your site visitors will want to find the information they need quickly and easily when they arrive on your site. Make it simple for them by putting detailed or complex information into a bulleted list. Not only does this make the content in the list easy to find on the page, it also makes it much easier to read because it breaks up the text.
  • Use the inverted pyramid style
    The inverted pyramid style of writing is commonly used by newspaper journalists to convey the most important details of news stories at the start of an article. To use this style, identify the most important information on each page of your website - remember, this is the information that is most important to your target audience, not to you. Then make sure you include all of this information in the first few paragraphs or sentences of your page. Using this style of writing is just like starting with the conclusion, rather than taking the whole page to build up to it.
  • Stick to one idea per paragraph
    To make your copy easier to scan, you should make sure each paragraph contains only one idea or topic. You should make the idea of each paragraph clear by ensuring that each paragraph has a topic sentence that explains what the paragraph is about. Doing this means that a reader can see the topic sentence and know immediately if they need to read your paragraph or not.
  • Halve the word count of normal writing
    The majority of people using the Internet are time-poor. Therefore, you need to write a lot less than what you would for non-web writing. A good rule of thumb is to write half as much as you would write for other mediums. Go through your writing with a fine tooth comb and cut out anything that is not related directly to the key idea of the page. Also, work on making your sentences shorter and sharper and use simpler phrases to make your writing shorter.
  • Avoid jargon and complex words
    Reading from a computer screen is hard enough without having to negotiate technical jargon and difficult words. Remember, you're not writing an academic essay, so you can use short, simple words to get your message across. Try to avoid using jargon as much as you can, and if you do use it, make sure you explain it in simple terms. Also, don't try to impress your readers with complicated, fancy words - write in normal, everyday language.

As you can see, writing for the web requires different skills and a different mindset to other forms of writing. Follow these tips to ensure your site visitors can find the information they need quickly, which will make them more likely to become customers.