Writing effective web copy is harder than you may think. Unlike traditional printed media, such as brochures, people tend to skim read online content, searching for words that appeal to them. You may only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention so your web copy must be easy to read and get straight to the point.
Text: still king of the web
Surely in this multimedia age, the written word cannot be as important as imagery and video? According to web researchers involved in Eyetrack III: “Dominant headlines most often draw the eye first upon entering the page... Photographs, contrary to what you might expect (and contrary to findings of 1990 Poynter eyetracking research on print newspapers), aren't typically the entry point to a homepage. Text rules on the PC screen – both in order viewed and in overall time spent looking at it.”
So it’s pretty clear that web copy isn’t only for search engines. Below we share some our top tips to help ensure your web copy is successful in engaging your audience:
Know what to say
Getting your messaging right is crucial before you start writing your web copy. By setting out clear messages about your company, your products/services and the market, your copy will be consistent across the website and your other communications, while eliminating jargon, waffle and anything else that isn’t completely necessary.
Find the right words
You need to identify the keywords that your target audience is searching for. Inserting these into your headings and body copy will help boost your search rankings.
Give it structure
Make the information easy to read by using short sentences, short paragraphs and lists (where possible) to help your reader find the information they want. It’s critical that the first few words of any paragraph are engaging.
Create eye-catching headlines
Use two levels of headings – main headings and subheadings – to guide your reader through each web page. Make sure your headings are short, sharp and memorable.
Make it picture-perfect
For maximum impact, use images to break up text and illustrate your point. Ensure they are high-quality and in keeping with your brand.
Ensure your copy and images are surrounded by plenty of white space to make your site less cluttered and easier to read. On screen, people prefer text in a single column rather than two or three columns – maybe because there is less scrolling involved to read it.
One final check
Once you’ve finished writing your content we urge you to check it thoroughly. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your audience really care about what you’ve written?
- Is it compelling?
- Is it clear?
- Is it complete with a distinct call to action?
- Is it concise?
- Are your facts, figures, spelling and grammar correct?
Practicing what we preach
The website you are reading right now is built using this best-practice guidance. Using Google Analytics we benchmark ourselves against other PR agencies. We found that on average, people spend just 40 seconds on competitors’ websites; we more than double that, with people spending an average of 1 minute 51 seconds on our website.
Need some help?
Thinking of revising your website and fancy some free advice? Email us with your new copy or existing website URL and we’ll review it and provide some constructive feedback on how to enhance your copy.