9 Rules for Effective Web Copy
Having a well-designed website is critical to an effective marketing strategy – but that isn’t all – you need to populate your website with content. And that is where many businesses get into trouble. Business owners either have no time to write their own content or are extremely unenthusiastic about it.
Another problem is search engine optimisation or SEO. Web content needs to be optimised for search engines, to increase the probability of being included high on results pages. And SEO is a skill that can be learnt, if you are willing.
One solution is to hire a professional copywriter to create your web copy from scratch or alternatively, you could write your own content and hire the professional to optimise it for you. To help you decide which strategy is best for you, here are 9 rules to keep in mind for effective web copy.
- Write for your visitors – Make sure you know what your visitors are looking for and what information will be of interest to them. Writing a page of empty words with no structure or focus will not endear you to your visitor or to Google. And write to the level of your visitor – too many technical words may confuse your reader – keep it simple but not patronising.
- Understand the benefits – Your reader is interested in how your product or service will help them to do something or solve a problem. So explain the benefits rather than the features. For example, a feature of a good copy writer is that they understand SEO, a benefit is that they can help increase traffic and rankings.
- Shorten paragraphs – Readers skim online content and are put off by a lot of text. So make sure your sentences and paragraphs are short and to the point. Each paragraph should have only 2 to 4 sentences otherwise readers become bored and leave.
- Use title, subheadings and lists – Readers will decide to stay and browse or click out of your site, based on whether they can quickly determine how interesting or relevant your content is to them. They will read your title and sub headings, bullet points or list – and maybe a sentence or two in each paragraph, as they skim down the page. Make it easy for them to read your content.
- Use keywords – Keywords and phrases are an important component of SEO, but must be used judiciously and appropriately. Stuffing web copy with keywords and phrases makes your content confusing and sometimes unreadable. This leads to reduced traffic and lowered rankings. And Google does not like it.
- Use images – Where appropriate, use images to enhance the functionality and user-friendliness of your site. Images can enrich your content, but too many can be visually confusing. Make sure that you include interesting captions for each image because people’s eyes are held by images and they will read the caption.
- Good grammar – There is nothing worse than bad spelling and incorrect grammar. Online copy is more lenient than paper copy and you can get away with using ‘and’ or ‘but’ to begin a sentence. But make sure that you don’t confuse the following:
- Their, they’re and there.
- Its and it’s.
- Then and than.
- Your and you’re
- Affect and effect.
- Loose and lose.
- Engage your audience – If readers can leave comments or ask questions about your services or products then they build a relationship with your brand. And having an archive of questions and answers, increases customer trust. Instead of an archive you can have a FAQ page based on customer questions.
- Include a call to action – What is the purpose of your web site? Is it to simply inform readers of who you are or engage readers with a blog? Or do you want them to buy your products, subscribe to a mailing list, make an enquiry or visit your physical store? Whatever your purpose, make sure you include the means to achieve that goal. Include a link to your contact page or a subscription box on every page.
Co-founder of Cornerstone and web junkie, Michael knows just how to diagnose your online problems and remedy the issue. An online enthusiast who believes in technology as an enabler of growth, Michael worries about all the details so you don't have to.