The internet is filled with every different type of writing you can think of. So how do you make your words stand out? Good copy attracts people, it motivates them and inspires action! It is useful in sales, marketing, educating and even simply entertaining.
Without copy, there would be no content on the web. Copy is essential, to the internet. Be sure that your writing stands out, gets your point across and sticks with the reader.
There are certain guidelines and techniques that you can use in order to write effective copy for the internet. Whether it is for your personal blog or a web page for a Fortune 500 company, there are unifying factors to all good writing. So let’s get started!
1) Make Your Writing Easy To Digest
Unless you are writing in a technical setting, for other professionals, it is best to avoid language that is too complex. Take a conversational approach.
Visitors are scanning your copy for valuable content that stands out to them. They’re not reading for quality. They aren’t your English professor marking your Hamlet essay.
It can be difficult, but you will need to unlearn the tactics of written English that were taught in school. When you write for the web, you can break certain rules of written English in order to better relate to your audience.
Tips To Break The Rules Of Written English:
- Use conjunctions: don’t, can’t, won’t.
- Don’t be afraid to start sentences with “but” or “and”
- Ask questions in your copy
- Use one-word sentences
- Write in the style of the target audience
- Appeal to emotion, use “you” and “we”
It is a good idea to have a target audience in mind when you are planning your copy. However, your writing should be so easy to comprehend, that someone without former knowledge of the topic can have a basic understanding of what is being said.
Write in short paragraphs. No longer than three sentences. The best way to create fast and visually pleasing content is by using lists. Numbered lists are both beneficial for Google and for your readers. You can scan information quickly in bulleted format.
When in doubt, pretend you are writing to a close friend or family member. Begin all of your copy with “Dear Mom” and proceed to write in a way you’d speak. Definitely, delete your greetings before your publish your post!
2) Pick The Right Tone
Writing for the web is a very human experience. You want to connect with the people who are passionate about reading your writing. Let your personality shine through!
Whether you are writing for a corporate audience, a nonprofit, potential sponsors, a small business or a personal blog, keep in mind that you are writing for humans. Web optimization is important, but it doesn't matter if you rank #1 online if no one can read your site pages.
Write for a positive user experience. The most disappointing thing in copy is arriving at a site, only to find repetitive keyword stuffing with thin, uninformative content.
Appeal to readers’ emotions and use the language that they use! Be quick and direct, don’t waste time with long words. Your goal in whichever tone you pick is to relay the essentials. Your reader should easily understand and connect with the copy on a more personal level.
3) Add Photos And Visual Aids To Your Work
It is difficult to read large chunks of texts, without any whitespace or photos. People are visual creatures. (Look at popular apps: Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.)
They favor web content that is supplemented with plenty of images.
Readers will often scan pictures to determine whether or not they want to read the related content. So photos are vital in attracting readers.
Your pictures should be condensed and optimized with the appropriate alt text so that Google knows that you have images on the page as well.
Search engines don’t “see” photos like people do, they read them instead.
Always keep in mind that your viewers are your priority. Visuals are important to them. They should be there to help visually guide your readers. Use related images as much as possible, not awkward or unrelated stock photos.
Use screenshots when appropriate. You can even add videos to your copy if they are related and available. Always remember to cite your photos. Give credit to photographers and get permission before you use images that aren’t your own.
Stock photos are a great option, as long as you don’t go overboard. The images should pair well with the content at hand.
4) Format Your Writing For The Web
It is always a good idea to keep in mind that if your writing isn’t optimized for the web, it is less likely to be seen, and attract the readers you want.
When Google crawls your web pages, it follows a certain set of algorithms. It needs to organize and compile every piece of content on the web. It wants to deliver the most relevant search results for a given search.
In order to get your content to the top of search results, optimization is key. Write copy first with your audience in mind. Compose content that you know your viewers will engage with and love.
But at the same time, keep in mind that search engines don’t read like humans do. Optimize your content after it is written.
Write content within their guidelines so that Google can also “read” what you’ve written, and sort it as helpful, reliable information. There is a great article on how to rank first on Google here.
Google looks for keywords, formatting, and tags. It checks to be sure that the title of your work is related to the content.
It also monitors what sites you hyperlink to, in order to ensure that the information is related to what you’re writing about.
Be sure to organize your writing so that both readers and search engines can benefit. Have headings, numbered lists and titles, metadata and alt text on images. Brainstorm your copy beforehand and set up an outline so that you write in a coherent structure.
5) Add Hyperlinks To Your Copy
One of the best things about writing for the web is that there’s information everywhere. Make it easy for your readers to access related content by providing them with links to similar information in your copy. You can also link to your older posts that are relevant or helpful for your readers.
Hyperlinks make your writing interesting and interactive. They are a good way to keep your readers engaged while they are reading. Hyperlinks are a great way for you to write focused content with additional, informative links.
You can use hyperlinks to inform your readers on things that may take too much time to explain in your copy. For example, you can link readers to a “how-to” article. It saves you time and space in your copy, and it keeps your readers informed.
6) Close With A Call To Action
What was the reason for writing this post, page or whitepaper? There is always a reason for why you’re writing online, even if it’s simply to gain awareness on your personal blog. End all of your writing with a type of conclusion that motivates your reader.
Your reader found your copy because they were looking for specific information. Whatever you’ve written has been beneficial for them in some way and has ideally given them the answer to what they were looking for.
If you have written about a new recipe, it is likely that your reader is going to go start cooking after reading. Motivate them and get them to share your recipe with others.
Likewise, if you are writing about a product, let the reader know that you not only know about this product. You also know where to buy it and provide them with a link to a sale.
7) Edit, Rework And Revise Your Writing
Editing is essential to all copy, online or otherwise. Read your writing out loud to check for flow and consistency. Have someone edit what you have written, and provide comments and suggestions. There are several excellent apps to help with editing and content writing.
Hemingway, for example, is an app helps you determine the readability of your writing. It indicates when sentences are simple or complex. It also checks for common grammatical mistakes.
Grammarly is an automated proofreading tool that can be used as a chrome extension. It actively corrects your grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It also sends you fun weekly updates, highlighting your most common grammatical mistakes.
Proofreadbot is an application that has both paid and free options. It is useful for editing shorter snippets of writing. Simply copy and paste your work into the “check your writing” box and it will scan your work for errors.
Read your copy in the mindset of your readers and ask yourself: Is this writing helpful? Does it answer my readers' questions? If your copy seems like it needs more work, add to it and change things until you are satisfied with it.
A great part about writing for the web is that there is always new information emerging and evolving. It is vital to continually update your old copy with new information when it is available.
- Write like you speak
- Keep it simple
- Do keyword research
- Optimize for the web as well as the reader
- Metadata and a clean title
- Add photos and visual aids
- Short sentences
Great web content takes time, and the best way to learn how to write effectively is through experience! Copy is always changing and it can always be improved.
You should now have a better understanding of how to write copy online. There are plenty of other tips on web content writing if you are interested. Test out what you have learned and leave comments on your own personal tips as well!