One of the most important elements of effective website design is copy—the content, the text of the website. While many people prefer to have a professional copywriter create the content, some would rather write their own copy. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, here are some tips for writing web copy that works.
Focus on readability. When people visit a website, they don’t read. They scan. They quickly determine whether your website, blog post, or article is worth their time. Always keep this in mind when writing any kind of web copy. See how each of the body paragraphs in this post have headlines in bold? In less than 10 seconds, you can scan this post to see if it provides useful information to you.
Keyword placement is important. Without going into too much detail, proper keyword use enables search engines like Google to place the most accurate results in a search result. If you’re a leadership consultant in New York City, you want to sprinkle those keywords throughout your web copy. But act naturally! If you use too many (a practice known as “keyword stuffing”), Google will see your website as having less valuable content, resulting in lower ranking in searches.
Be interesting. This is a tough one. While no one is expecting your website to read like a Hemingway novel, it’s important to add a little variety to your sentence structure and length. Run-on sentences are particularly a problem because they contain too many thoughts, forcing readers to pay attention for so long that they feel out of breath, which isn’t what we want at all. See what I mean?
Give them something to chew on. Ever been to a store with half-stocked shelves? Your immediate reaction is, “Oh, they don’t have anything here.” The same is true of websites, especially when Google is involved. (And Google is always involved.) The three sentences describing your services may be the best marketing copy ever written. If they’re surrounded by too much white space, however, neither Google nor your visitors will be impressed. Either add a little more content or combine the content of a few related pages.
Read it out loud. I know, I know, it seems stupid—maybe even embarrassing—to read your writing out loud. It really does make a positive difference in your writing style, though. Reading out loud becomes very important if you don’t have a regular editor to weed out typos and grammatical errors.
If I were to sum up these tips in one sentence it would be this: Good web copy is easy and enjoyable to read. Of course, if this whole post consisted of that one sentence, it wouldn’t be a very useful post. So let’s try that again. Good web copy is easy to read, enjoyable, and informative. Hopefully this post lives up to that criteria—otherwise my advice and I won’t have much credibility in your eyes.