Content Marketing

10 Simple Steps to Great Web Copy

22nd July 2016

1 Keep it snappy

79% of people skim read when reading online, so keep it short, simple and easy to follow.

Think about how you use the web. You’re in search of information and if you don’t find it quickly and easily, you click away.

You should, as a general rule, be able to half your original copy without losing the meaning. Less is more, your website should contain enough information to convince someone to convert, anything extra in unnecessary.

If you take away nothing else from this guide, take away this: keep your paragraphs short and your sentences shorter.

2 What do they need to do and how do they do it?

Is it obvious what the purpose of the page/email/post is? What should the reader do next?

Every page needs a clear call to action.

Do you want the reader to book into a Spa? Sign up to a newsletter? Or simply find out more about an event or offer? How do they do this? Is it as easy as it could be? Make the user journey as simple and straightforward as possible.

Have you answered all their questions? For example, before they book a Spa day they’ll need to know the opening times, the price and the availability.

Buttons convert really well, people can’t help but click on a big, bright button! But if a button isn’t an option, try bolding your text link or increasing the text size.

3 Use headings and subheadings

A strong headline is vital to getting readers to check out the rest of your content. Make your subheadings intriguing, but informative too.

Once you’ve written your subheadings, review them to see what your skim reader will understand it they only read that part of your page. Will they get the gist of your information?

And don’t forget, work your keywords into your headings.

4 Use bullet points

  • They create fascinations your readers can’t resist
  • They’re an easily-scannable way to present multiple points
  • They look different from the rest of your text, so they provide a visual break for your reader.

5 ‘Click here’ and other words to avoid

  • Don’t ‘Click here’

Your link copy helps with SEO, so use keywords or phrases you want to focus on, for example, ‘Special offers on luxury hotel rooms’.

Also, skim readers will read the title, subheadings and links on your page first. It should be obvious where your link is going even when read in isolation.

  • Delete that!

90% of the time you won’t need the word ‘that’. It’s a word which has snuck into our spoken language, however most of the time it’s not needed and doesn’t add anything to the sentence.

Go back through your copy and delete all your unnecessary ‘that’s… And I’ll say sorry now as you’ll see unnecessary ‘that’s in everything you read from now on!

  • Would you use that language in front of your Gran!?

Don’t use jargon you wouldn’t use in real life. The easier it is to read, the more likely it is people are going to read it and convert.

6 If it’s important, say it first

Put the most important part of your sentence first, for example:

“It was recently reported in the Bristol Post that 90% of people love staying in hotels.”

should read:

“90% of people love staying in hotels, the Bristol Post recently reported.”

This rule works on every level of your copy. Structure your paragraphs in the inverted pyramid style (this is especially important for emails and blogs where you’re likely to have more copy).

7 Embrace the line break

White space is your friend. There are few easier ways to make your content more readable than breaking up your paragraphs.

8 Give the benefits, not features

Never simply provide a list of features. Readers won’t identify with them. Let the reader know what the benefits are to them.

The copy below, for example, explains a feature of the product:

‘The Spa has swimming pool, sauna, relaxation room and 20 treatments to choose from.’

Instead, you could say ‘Feel the stress and strains of life wash away as you enjoy an hour long treatment by our award-winning therapist designed to relax and relieve stress. Take a dip in our heated outdoor pool and work up and appetite before your healthy yet delicious spa lunch.’

This tells you how the features of the spa will benefit you, and so why you should visit here instead of anywhere else.

9 Write for SEO without sounding like you’re writing for SEO

  • Front load your page titles – make sure you use keywords in your title, and put your keyword first. For example, if your keyword is ‘Bath spa treatments’ then instead of ‘View the Spa Treatments Available’, try ‘Bath, Spa treatments and luxury breaks go hand in hand at Smith Hotel’.
  • Make your sentences specific and relevant – You need to tell search engines and humans what your site is about. Make an effort to include keywords in your copy, but make sure it’s not jarring. Well written copy will work well for both.
  • Use heading tags for headings only – Always remember this: heading tags are not for making fonts bigger. They are for headings. Don’t use them for paragraphs either!

The idea behind heading tags is to identify a section of content so users know what to expect if they read the paragraphs below it. In this light, it makes total sense to use a keyword, because if you are using a keyword, you are not only helping search engines understand your site, you are also helping your users.

10 Remember who your audience is

When creating content for the Web, considering tone of voice is important. Your tone can help you stand out from competitors, communicate efficiently and effectively with your audience and share your personality.

The questions below are a good place to start when trying to choose the right tone of voice:

  • Should we use jargon?
  • Can we use humor?
  • How informal can we be?
  • What punctuation should we use?
  • What do our competitors sound like?

One final question not to be ignored is, “Who are we engaging with?” For example, people likely to book a luxury hotel will need a different tone of voice to something aimed at younger, mass market (for example, Premier Inn).

If you need help with writing for the web, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.