Writing website copy and creating audience-focused content for today’s online business means forgoing formal business writing of last generation for a brand voice that genuinely connects with your audience, reaches the heart of their greatest struggle, and provides a clear solution to their biggest need.
Writing website copy that is amazing and meaningful means being conversational.
It means using empathy and story and emotion.
Writing for your website is not all heart and soul, though, and still requires following a few guidelines to make bigger impact with your market.
Here are ten tips to implement in your own copy to be more effective with the words on your website.
Use language that your audience just gets and appreciates.
This means using familiar words and phrases in writing website copy–you definitely want to avoid jargon, technical phrases, and gobbledygook. This seems like a no-brainer but it can be really easy to divert to what is familiar and comfortable for you (i.e. industry ideas and phrases) rather than dicing your topic into things that the everyday person can understand and appreciate.
Use headlines on your website.
Change the font size or style of the most important information on your website pages and set that content apart by creating catchy one-liners or headlines in your copy. This is huge on website home pages, blog posts, and even email marketing.
Always lead with the most important information.
Let’s face it–audiences these days don’t have the greatest attention spans. Writing website copy calls for writing to a new generation of “skimmers”, or those who don’t take the time to read an entire page of website copy. They’ll skim the beginning of a paragraph to see what it’s about before deciding to read on. You’ll want to hit them with the vital info right away before they decide to move on.
Break up text into manageable (“skimmable”) chunks.
Give your audience an easier time of reading through your website content by providing plenty of paragraph breaks and easy-to-read sentences. Just as you write for the “skimmers” by placing the most important information first, make it easier for them to skim your page by breaking the content up. No one wants to sit and read through an entire page of zero paragraph breaks. It’s just not gonna happen these days.
Write in an active voice.
Basically, an active voice is how people usually talk. For example, you would say, “The customer tried on two dresses and a top”, not “Two dresses and a top were tried on by the customer.” It’s just not natural to speak that way, so write in how you talk by using an active voice.
Bullet points and numbered lists are huge!
Writing structure definitely matters in terms of website copy and order of importance. Writing for skimmers means you will want to break up the info and order it by importance by utilizing bullet points and numbered lists as appropriate for your content. Using bullet points and lists can help you keep your text easy to read and manageable for the reader (think: chunks and highlighting important information). It’s another way to NOT scare them off, but rather encourage them to stay and read on.
Speak (er, write) using pronouns.
Talk about your audience as “you” and about yourself or your business as “I” or “we.” Make it personal. Talk about their needs and how your offer respond to that need AND offers a solution. “You” and “I” are powerful words in website content.
Be extremely clear and focused.
Avoid being too smart, witty, or clever—it could get ambiguous if you are trying to make an impression by being smart, but if it’s received as confusing, then it’s a turnoff.
Ask your audience to take action.
Ask your audience to take action on your website: to buy, to sign up for a service, to subscribe to your email list, to read your next blog post, to connect with you on social media. Every page of your website should ask your reader to do something, directly related to the content on each particular page.
Utilize white space (negative space).
Whitespace, also known as negative space, is the areas of your website that give your reader’s eyes a break. It can literally be white space on your web page, or color blocks, or empty space not taken up by other real estate. By using the white space of your website design to your advantage (which is really similar to breaking up your copy in bite-size chunks and mixing in lists and bullet points as needed), you make your writing easy on the eyes. By reducing visual “noise”, you make it easier for your reader to consume and absorb your content.
And then take action.
Because that is the ultimate purpose of the website anyway.