Last time we looked at how to choose your keywords for your website. This time, we’ll look at how to write good web copy.
Make it easy to read
Now, you might think that this is true no matter what medium you’re writing for – and you’d be right! But when it comes to websites, there are certain specifics to bear in mind.
It’s a lot harder to read on-screen than it is to read something printed. So you need to help your readers as much as you can.
- Use short sentences.
- Use headings to break up the copy and help readers find the information they want quickly.
- Use bullet points to get across key points.
To see the difference between reading online and off-line, try this test. Read this story on the BBC News website. Now print the story out and read it again. I’ll bet that when you read it online, it was easy-to-read and got all the facts across. But when you read the printed version you probably felt that the sentences and paragraphs were too short and everything sounded very “staccato”. That’s the difference that reading online and offline makes.
The holy grail of every website page is to be at the top of the Google rankings. Lots of factors go to make up Google’s decision about where a page ranks. But one of the most important is keywords. These are the words that people use when they’re searching for something and you need to make sure you’re using them in your content. (After all, how will Google know that your page is about red balloons if you don’t mention red balloons?)
There’s a lot of nonsense talked about incorporating keywords into your web copy – how many times you need to use them and so on. By and large, I’d ignore all of this. If you’re writing good, relevant copy then the chances are you’ll be including your keywords naturally. However, including them in headings and in links (e.g. “Find out more about my copywriting” is better than “For more information about my copywriting, click here”) is always good practice.
For more insights into keywords, read Three steps to choosing your SEO keywords.
Keep focused on your visitors
The great thing about websites is that, unlike a printed leaflet, you’ve often got unlimited space to tell visitors all about your company. It means you can go into plenty of detail and provide lots of useful information that you could never justify putting in a printed leaflet because of the expense involved. But that doesn’t give you licence to bore people senseless! Always make sure that every page, especially the pages at the top of the site’s hierarchy where people are likely to go first, answers the only question that really matters to your visitors: what’s in it for me? Unless you’re answering this fundamental question and telling them about the benefits of your product or service, your visitors will quickly leave your site.
Think about the page in relation to other pages
Always keep in mind that websites are interactive in a way that leaflets or other offline marketing materials aren’t. This is both a blessing and a curse!
On the plus side, you can (and should) include links to other pages on your website whenever you can. This will encourage people to explore your website and engage with it for longer.
On the minus side, it means you can’t be sure which page your readers will read first or the order they will read them in. The only thing you can do is structure your pages logically so people will know where to look if they want to find something out.
Having said that, your copy should never assume that your readers have already read another page before reading the one they’re on. Think of each page as a standalone advert for your business, linking to other pages wherever necessary to get your message across.
Include calls to action to get visitors to engage
Unless your website is an online shop, the only aim of your website is to get people to get in touch. Make sure that you are encouraging your visitors to engage with you on every page. This might be as simple as just adding a link to your contact page, suggesting they get in touch to discuss their requirements. Or it might be to get them to sign up to your newsletter, download a useful document (in exchange for their email address) or start to follow your blog.
Once they’ve made contact you’ve got a valuable lead you can build a relationship with and turn into a client. Until they make contact with you, they’re just a statistic.
A final thought
Most people turn to a web designer when they need a new website because they know that making a good first impression is vital. But it’s the content that visitors will be using when they decide whether or not to buy from you, so it’s vital that this is as high quality as the design.
If you have any questions or would simply like to have a chat about your website copy, please get in touch.
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