- Posted by Donna Amos
- On October 13, 2018
- website copy
What is good copy for your website? Many copywriters make the mistake of thinking people will actually read what they write on a website. I know; I’m a copywriter. We like to dream of dazzling web audiences with our witty jargon or educating them with our informing narratives. But experienced copywriters know, that’s all a fantasy. Good copywriters know that internet users don’t read; they scan.
Web users are on a mission. They are searching for information, products, services, a certain type of entertainment, or whatever. The mission is to locate and consume. Before they can consume, they must locate. And everyone knows anything about anything can be found on the internet if you just keep searching. So, web users search and scan for their target. They don’t have time to read everything. A simple three-second scan of the top of the page will tell them if they need to slow down and browse or…click.
Therefore, when it comes to writing good copy for your website, remember some helpful tips about writing for web users, not novel readers. These tips will help you maximize the copy that will be scanned, in order to provide that for which your target audience is searching. Then, they will slow down, take another look, and decide to dive into your sales funnel.
First Things First
Simply put, place the most important things web users are searching for first on your site. You’re not writing an argumentative essay where you must introduce the idea and gradually get to the topic. You’re writing web copy, and remember, your target audience is on a mission: locate and consume. So, your important points must come first.
For example, if you’re searching for copywriting services, you need to see that that is what’s offered right away. Perhaps you need someone local, so copywriter based in hometown needs to be prominent. And, with professional writing services, many seek to specialize in certain industries. So, copywriting for the medical industry in your hometownshould be right at the top of your homepage.
Or, if you deal with selling products, the nature of those products needs to be clearly identified. I’m searching for bedding, so I need to see something about furniture or bedroom furniture right away. That will cause me to slow down long enough to see the search bar you have near the top of your site, so I can search for the type of bed I want.
Journalists call this way of writing the inverted pyramid. In newspaper articles the most newsworthy information comes first before details and background information. Even if you only read the first paragraph of a newspaper story you still understand the big picture.
Websites work best when you follow the same principle. Your web visitors are seeking information primarily about what you do. Then a few more details. First, what do you do? Next, what can you do for them?
Less is More
When it comes to attractive and useful web pages, less is more. Look at the Google homepage. What is the purpose of Google? It’s a search engine. It will find links to information you are seeking. So, what is necessary? A giant logo and search box. The rest is for specific users with other purposes. The general web user sees the box, types in a query, and go!
Remember, scanners are looking for bits of information to tell them to stay or click away. Bits of information; not large bulks of text. Short sentences are best, using simple, easily understood words. Break up bodies of text with surrounding white space. Use no more than4 short sentences per paragraph; preferably only three.
Lists are also easy to scan. A bulleted list of five items can convey as much basic information as two or three paragraphs, and all in a scannable format. An image with a few words of text will catch the eye much quicker than text alone.
Say it Straight
This is the part that kills the creative writer’s heart that lives inside every copywriter. Web readers don’t have time to be impressed by your clever wit. They don’t have time to think about the innuendo behind your message. They are on a mission: locate and consume. Say what you need to say simple and straight.
Use care words that are the most searched for words for your particular industry. These are simple words that are easily used and understood without lots of thought or even reading. Words like, cheap, near me, used, new, and offer. Almost like sight words small children learn first when they are exposed to reading, these care words convey meaning quickly on sight.
- Use short paragraphs – four sentences max
- Use short sentences – twelve on average
- Skip unnecessary words
- Avoid jargon and slang
- Avoid the passive tense
- Avoid needless repetition
- Use the word you
- Shorten your text
Put the cookies on the bottom shelf so everyone can reach them. You’ll find that when you do, more visitors will find what you have to offer and take you up on it.
What are your favorite dos and do-nots for writing effective website copy? Share them with us in the comments below!