The Internet is loaded with websites that fail to follow the basic rules of writing for the web. Speaking as a potential customer of an online business I gain my first impressions from the businesses website – like an online shop window. Potential customers may want to browse and then decide if they think the product is quality and if they want to enter the shop.
First impressions last and that means spelling mistakes are definitely out. Like a potential employer scanning through CVs, filtering out those that have basic mistakes, a customer is very likely to do the same with a website. The key words here are “professionalism” and “trust”.
So let’s look at what encourages a visitor to stay on your website. If you have a product or service to sell or, if it is information that you want visitors to read, similar priciples apply to writing web copy. Here are some very basic rules.
Writing web copy
- Use short sharp sentences.
- Use a language that is accessible to everyone. A journalist is taught to simplify words if they can. The rule is if a meaning can be derived by using a simple word, then use that word, instead of anything flowery. The trick is to be short, sharp and to the point. Your target audience is not going to be on your site for a long period of time.
- Get to the point. Again this is an obvious statement but it is often forgotten.
- Optimise your website. Use key words throughout your web copy but no more than 20% of the copy should be key words. There is a fine line and if it is crossed Google will choose not to categorise it and treat the page as spam.
- On the Home page make sure that the information that you give is a reflection of how you want customers to view your business. Sloppy copy and blurry images are likely to frighten customers away.
- Write web copy that has impact it is important to keep your target audience in mind. What questions will your customer have about the product? What are the benefits of the product? How will the customer’s life improve by buying the product?
- The website is advertising space but you only have limited space to use. Not because the space is not available but because customers don’t want to scroll down a page and keep reading or click from one page to another.
- Be professional when writing web copy but why not be different and add a little personality. This can be done by creating a theme to the copy. Don’t go over the top and avoid those clichés. This is where research will become useful.
- Keep paragraphs to a maximum of 6 lines.
- Always title your information using key words and use subtitles to make it easy for the customers to find what they are looking for. This will also make your website easier for search engines to catagorise.