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Five top tips for tip-top web copy

This week I have a guest blogger, Catherine from Pippin Consultancy is our go to copywriter of choice. After your site’s targeted design, the copy is the second most important aspect, it is what will keep your visitor’s / potential customers engaged. Think of the design as the hook, the content is definitely the net. I’d love to claim I’m a great copywriter, but the fact of matter is, I’m not! That’s why we get Catherine to do it. Catherine has a great deal of experience and has provided the blog article below. Enjoy!

Getting the design of your website right is crucial – it’s the first thing visitors will notice when they get to your site. But once you’ve made that good first impression, it’s important to reinforce it with equally good copy. If you’re just embarking on writing the content for your website, here are five tips that might help you do just that.

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 the sentences and paragraphs were too short and everything sounded very “staccato”. That’s the difference that reading online and offline makes.

Use keywords

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 wonderful widgets if you don’t mention wonderful widgets?)

There’s a lot of rubbish 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.

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 each 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 and you want people to buy something, the only aim of your website is to get people to get in touch. Make sure you are encouraging your visitors to engage with you on every page. This might be as simple as 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 visitors will use when they decide whether or not to work with you, so it’s vital it matches the quality of the design.

If you’d like to learn how to make sure the quality of your content matches the quality of your design, you might like my e-course, How to write good web copy. It normally costs £49 but if you quote transition when you check out, you can have it for £30.

And if you have any questions or would simply like to have a chat about your website copy, please get in touch.

Catherine Every is a copywriter who has been helping businesses and organisations to convey complex concepts clearly since 2004. Many of the people she started working with then are still working with her now. It’s because she writes well-crafted communications that deliver clarity and effectiveness. (And they tell her she’s nice to work with too.)

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