You’ve got the idea. You’ve got the Web domain. You’ve even learned how to make your own website. Yet you still have one more important job to do: writing the copy to fill your site. You can have the most beautifully designed and easily navigable site in the world, but if the copy doesn’t do your business justice, you won’t see the results that you’re hoping for.
Writing for your website is not the same as writing for your brochure, or for any type of print. Many business owners make the mistake of using the same copy they used on their printed brochures and advertisements on their websites, not realizing that users — their potential customers — don’t read on the Web the same way they do in print. If you want to maximize sales from your site, you need to keep these principles in mind.
Keep It Short and Sweet
A general rule of thumb when writing for the Web is to use about half the number of words you’d use for a print piece. Studies show that web users don’t always read pages word for word, but rather skim content for the key points. Cut out the fluff and stick to the main ideas on your website.
Skip the Hyperbole
Consumers are bombarded with thousands of pitches every day, and most are savvy enough to look past the overblown claims and ad-speak. Write your copy more objectively, highlighting the benefits that customers will gain from your product or service. Stick to the facts, and increase the chances that customers will hit the “buy” button.
Know Your Audience
In any type of writing, knowing your readers is the key to creating effective copy. This means understanding both your target demographic and what they like and dislike and also understanding their knowledge level. If you’re trying to sell a technical product to people not familiar with more technical terminology, for example, be sure to define important terms and avoid unclear acronyms and jargon.
Include a Call to Action
Whether you want customers to request more information or place an order, you need to direct them to do so. Some experts call this the “So What?” factor. You’ve presented the information — now you need to tell people what to do with it. Make it clear what you want people to do, and how they can do it, by clearly indicating a “Buy Here” link or “Request More Information” button.
Understand What SEO Is
When you build your own website, you naturally want to draw traffic to it. Using search engine optimization, or SEO, can bring in visitors who are searching for the terms you include in your site. When you’re writing copy, research the terms that are most commonly used to find sites such as yours and include them in your copy. However, be careful not to include too many of the keywords or add them where they don’t flow naturally. This is called keyword stuffing and can actually harm you, as your site might end up appearing lower in search rankings.
Use Effective Design
Because web users don’t read online copy the same way they read printed copy, when you’re writing, consider incorporating design elements to keep your content clear and concise. Highlight important words and terms in bold, and use bullet points to provide “at a glance” information. Avoid using too many colors and fonts on your pages, though, as that can make it difficult to read.
Once you’ve drafted your web copy, proofread and edit before you post. A website full of grammatical errors, misspellings and typos reflects poorly on your business — even if the copy is compelling and persuasive. If you’re having trouble finding the right words, consider enlisting the services of a professional copywriter to help you craft your message. Your online business is too important to leave to chance.
About the Author: Jessica Mayberry is a professional copywriter with more than a decade of experience writing for both print and the Web.