When creating a website the most important thing to consider isn’t the colours, the images or the layout. The most important factor to consider is the text that goes onto the pages. The words you choose and the way you use them will make a huge difference to how people view your site; if this is done well you will turn curious visitors into paying customers.
Even with text so important, website copywriting is often left until the last minute, and even those who appreciate how vital it is will often be unaware how to write effectively for the web.
Here are 7 tips to keep in mind in order to make the most of your website copy. Whether you are writing a website sales page, a product listing, a news article or blog post, we hope these tips come in useful.
When writing for web…
1. Keep your sales pitch in mind
There isn’t much loyalty on the web and with people easily distracted and happy to seek out your competitors, you need to write content that makes its mark. Whatever your USPs (unique selling points), make sure they are on show and in the headings and subheadings.
When writing a web page, always think of a couple of messages you’d like to get across – the core messages that help your business stand out – and focus the structure of the page around them. Always include a Call to Action explaining how people should enquire.
2. Make sure people can skim-read
When using the web, people tend to make split-second decisions and will quickly hop around from one page to the next. Online consumer behaviour shows that large chunks of text will go unread due to short attention spans and a lack of time. Chop your message into bite-sized chunks; this ensures that when people quickly skim over a page, they still pick up the main messages you want to deliver. You can do this successfully by breaking large paragraphs into smaller sections of text complete with subheadings and bullet points.
3. Have clear keyword focus
Every single web page should focus on at least one key-phrase which is commonly used by customers searching for the products and services you offer. All parts of the page, including the title, headings and meta data, should support these key-phrases.
It is important to remember that the search engines rank webpages, not websites. Keyword focus should be different on each page of your site so you don’t find yourself with web pages which compete against one another.
Trying to fit too many keywords on a page is another common fault. You can only really fit a couple of closely related key phrases on a page, so pick those that matter the most and save the rest for other pages.
4. Don’t overcomplicate the issue
Don’t write web copy that confuses people. This sounds like common sense, but so many websites are far too clever for their own good. In some industries jargon is acceptable, but complicated words that require a dictionary aren’t. The internet has given people from all walks of life access to your website, so make sure they understand what they read, regardless of their level of education.
Many website copywriters think of website visitors as secondary school students. This is the level to write to. Here is a useful tool which will help you determine the readability of your text.
5. Create unique content
Website content needs to be completely different to anything else you’ve written as, when browsing online, people’s reading patterns change drastically. Simply using the same text you have used for offline media such as brochures and articles will not achieve the desired results.
Google and the other search engines really dislike duplicate content. If your website uses text that is found elsewhere on the web, the search engines will not consider your site as important; consequently you won’t rank as highly as you might.
6. Keep search engines and searchers in mind
There are cut off points where search engines will stop reading. A page title, including characters and spaces, should be under 65 characters. A meta description should be under 155 characters.
Page titles and meta descriptions appear along with your URL in the search results. Along with making sure they are keyword-rich, these should really sell your site’s offering and differentiate your products and services as much as possible from those offered by the competition.
7. Highlight the benefits, not the features
An age-old copywriting tip, but one that is so often forgotten; always communicate the benefits, not the features. Otherwise known as ‘selling the sizzle, not the bacon’, it’s based on the idea that people don’t make buying decisions on the product or service itself, but rather the outcome that it brings.
Consider why people would use your offering. Does it save them time? Does it make their life easier or their money go further? Does it make them happier or healthier? Whatever it does, make sure this is put across clearly instead of, or more prominently than, the features and components that make up the offering.