If you’re like many website owners, you apply the same rules for writing web copy that you’d use for writing printed material such as reports, ads, essays, or even books. In other words, you consider the needs, personality, and desires of your audience and jot down words that seem like a good match.
While this approach sounds logical, it ignores the fact that writing for the web is completely different from other types of writing. Internet readers are not the same as readers of print copy (even if they’re the same people at different times!). To help you understand this crucial difference, here are 7 tips for writing effective web content that probably go against many of your usual writing habits.
1. Write With Scanners in Mind
This is probably the most important rule, as it addresses the way most people actually read on the web. They don’t read every single word and line. They scan, seeking the information that matters most to them. The best way to do this is to keep paragraphs short and to use subheadings and/or bullet points to make scanning easy.
2. Be Clear Rather than Clever
Web readers seldom pay close attention to your every word. They’re looking for essential information, not highbrow literature. Also keep in mind that many people are not well-educated and some aren’t native English speakers. That’s why it’s best to focus on delivering your message as simple and clearly as possible.
3. Use Keywords
If you’re familiar with SEO (search engine optimization), you already know about keywords. If not, they’re simply the words people use when looking up information search engines. These are the simplest and most user-friendly words and phrases that pop into people’s minds as they type in queries. A simple way to identify these is to type your main keyword into Google and see which phrases they suggest.
4. Make Your Most Important Points First
Write your web content so that if people only read the first paragraph they’ll still get your main point. If there’s a call to action, include it here or tell people where they can find it. For example, if your website sells GPS systems, start off by telling readers what brands and models you carry and a search box. Don’t waste words on long introductions or background information. Remember that with web content your goal isn’t to get people to read everything but to motivate them to take action. If it only takes the first paragraph to do this, os much the better.
5. Think of Your Readers as Hunters
Drop any image of website visitors as resembling old-fashioned readers curled up on the sofa with a book. Instead, think of them as hunters seeking their quarry in a wilderness full of distractions. Your job is to keep their eyes on the target and prevent them from wandering off course or choosing the wrong prey.
6. Don’t Assume Visitors Will Land on Your Home Page
Website designers sometimes make the mistake of thinking of their site in linear terms, assuming all visitors will start at the home page and progress from one page to the next. You never know where people will arrive. Ideally, you want links to all of your posts and pages floating around the internet. So make sure all of your pages are easy to scan and contain your main call to action.
7. Write for People With Short Attention Spans
Your best approach with writing for the web is to assume that all of your readers have ADD or ADHD. If they’re bored or distracted, they’ll immediately forget about what you’re telling them and leave your website. To cater to this audience, keep your words and paragraphs short. Use simple words and stay on point with your message.
To learn more about how to improve your marketing strategies, give us a call or send us a note today at Small Dog Creative 661-702-1310!