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5 Rules for Writing Effective Web Copy

Writing effective Web copy isn't as simple as it seems. Here are 5 rules for writing better Web copy.

By
Diane S. Thieke,

5 Rules for Writing Effective Web Copy

by Diane S. Thieke

Crisp, clear Web copy will make a huge difference in your marketing efforts. Some of the obvious benefits include more traffic to your website, and visitors who spend more time there. Even more importantly, good Web copy will increase your conversion rate.

But writing effective Web copy isn’t as simple as it seems. I often think that we marketers suffer from TMI syndrome. We try to shove as many details about our products and services into a single page of copy as we can. While that might work for a printed fact sheet or even a press release, it really fails on a Web page. Digital offers an amazing opportunity as it is highly flexible, but we need to write copy that bends the Web to our needs.

Just follow these 5 rules and you’ll be writing better Web copy in no time.

A Web Page Is Not a Brochure

Fortunately, I see this happening less frequently now than in the early days of the Web, when companies would simply transfer their written brochures to their website. The result was dense and unreadable copy.

Avoid the temptation to put everything on a single page, and instead spend a lot of time thinking through navigation. Map out the path or paths that will drive your visitors from the home page to the Contact Us page. Take advantage of your Web developer, who can provide guidance on the standard structure of websites, which will improve your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).

Keep It Short

Once you’ve determined the structure of your website and identified the pages needed, you can begin writing for each Web page. Keep the copy for each page short and to the point – ideally around 300 words or so.  This will minimize scrolling on the page and move the visitor to other pages in your Web site, essentially sending them down the purchasing path you’ve defined.

When viewed in a Word document, 300 words may not seem like much (in fact, we’re just about 340 at this point), but you’ll be surprised at the density of this same text when previewing it on a Web page. Dark blocks of copy discourage visitors, who are looking for a quick answer to these basic questions: What does this business do? Can it help me?

Write Copy That People Can Scan

Good marketing copy must be easy to scan. In addition to being time-crunched, your visitors are also dealing with an explosion of information. The faster they can grasp what you can do for them and why you’re better than competitors, the more likely they are to remember your business or product when their research is done.

Here are several tactics for creating copy that is easier on the reader’s eye:

  • Keep paragraphs short, between 20 and 30 words.

  • Use lists and bullets.

  • Break up copy with headings.

  • Simplify your language with shorter words and fewer adjectives.

Include a Call to Action

As in any marketing copy, the call to action is the most important piece of information. What do you want the reader to do next? What steps should they take? Navigation comes into play here. A simple link to the next piece of content, an invitation to sign up for a newsletter or a direct connection to a contact form will initiate action.

Put Contact Info on Every Page

Don’t make your visitors work to contact you. Be sure to incorporate a contact us link or phone number prominently on each page of the website.

Diane S. Thieke is the president and founder of Simply Talk Media, a digital media marketing consultancy. With more than 25 years in digital media and technology, she helps clients build stronger relationships with their customers and communities, using both social and traditional channels. Follow her on Twitter at @thiekeds or visit her blog at www.simplytalkmedia.com/blog

Typing photo from Shutterstock.

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