Writing Web Copy – Seven TipsPaul Lewis
7 Tips on How to Write Good Web Copy
Web copy is different from print copy and other forms of writing because website users need to know fast what it’s about and how to move on. The following applies whether you’re writing a page or a post for a website.
It won’t be the same reason for every visitor. In fact, there will be many different reasons, some of them mistakes. Give them what they want. Make your content relevant and actionable. You’re interested in our club? This is who we are and what we do. Here are links to details of our mission, our history, our activities. Here’s a photo of us doing whatever we do. Want to join? Here’s a link to an application form. And so on.
The first two or three words may be all a visitor bothers to read. So no building up to your conclusion. Make sure you say straightaway what the page is about (i.e. use your keywords)- in the Title, the meta title, the meta description, main headline (code <h1>), the other headlines (code <h2> and <h3>), paragraphs, photo alt text, etc. This will also help search engines. And for people, make it attention grabbing too.
Your visitors aren’t interested in opinions or empty phrases. Don’t say how great your business is- prove it. Be brief but add more. Unlike print, you are not limited by the length of the page or amount of paper available but that isn’t an excuse to ramble. Make every word count because web users get impatient. What you see as an elegantly phrased subjunctive clause, they see as filler. In fact, it’s fine to use fragments rather than full sentences. On the other hand, the extra space means you can add relevant links, photos and other useful information.
You may craft every word like spun gold but website visitors do not hang on your every word. They’ll probably only read a fifth of them. Live with it. Give them lots of short sentences, short paragraphs, sub headings, bullet points, highlighted words, photo captions and anything else that will slow their eye down for a moment. And give them the information that they’re looking for and that you want them to have.
Just not your story. This is the website visitor’s story. A story that will take them where they want to go. So use explanations, menus within the page and links to other pages. OK, not always- a blog post may tell your personal story, but not much else.
Call it what you will but it must be consistent. It could be relaxed and friendly, it could be formal and distanced, depending on the type of website, but it can’t be both. Informal is usually what visitors like best.
Many visitors will judge you on spelling mistakes, links that don’t work, missing words, clichés, jargon and grammatical howlers like an apostrophe in the wrong place. Get some strangers to use the page and see how they get on with it.
If you want some free advice on your copywriting or would like me to write it for you, call me on 07946 981733 or email firstname.lastname@example.org