If there’s one generalization you should make as a website writer, it’s that your visitors have short attention spans and are overly saturated with information.
If you’d rather generalize, then just think about this fact: search is the most popular function on the internet. This means most visitors to your site are looking for something in particular. If they click on your site and can’t tell whether you will provide what they are looking for, they will leave.
Internet users think of their time as precious and the internet as a never-ending trove of information. Your visitors are information scavengers with little loyalty and even less time; this means you need to tailor your writing specifically to them to get their attention.
You may be interested in the following related articles as well.
Feel free to join us and you are always welcome to share your thoughts that our readers may find helpful.
Headings should have one purpose: force your readers to stay. Most readers will happily read your headline, but a much smaller percentage will stick around. Be descriptive, compelling or interesting.
You’re a real estate agent and you have two types of clients: buyers and sellers. You could try to weave around both objectives, selling to buyers one moment and sellers the next. Or, you could target both of them with gusto. To do the latter, you must segment your audience; persuade both types of visitor to read different copy. You could place the copy under different headings or link to where visitors should go.
If readers want to know what your site is about as quickly as possible it makes sense to explain the most important things about your site early. Take a cue from daily newspaper’s inverted pyramid style. Newspapers give the most important information (the “who,” what,” “where,” “when,” “why” and “how”) about an event as early as possible and fan out the details in the rest of the paragraphs.
Newspaper readers want the latest news, but also want to be able to move quickly to another story if it isn’t relevant to them. For example, if there is dangerous flooding in Chicago, but if you live in California you most likely don’t care. This is why it’s important for a newspaper reporter to note where the flooding is immediately so readers who aren’t concerned can move to the next story that does pertain to them. The same applies to websites.
It is important not to bury the most important information further than the first or second paragraph. However, the dry, inverted pyramid style should be used more as a guideline than a rule. Play off the “5 W’s” with creativity and your own writing style. Just because the first two paragraphs should tell the readers the most important information, doesn’t mean they should be dull and boring. The best way to hook your readers is with a catchy, well-written introduction.
To do this requires knowledge about your target audience so you know what types of information will pique their interest. This can mean beginning your piece by raising a question that your readers want to know, or maybe by shocking your readers in some way. One way is to present an example of how one person was affected by your topic that could be applied to other people.
Better introductions come from lots of revisions (and plenty of staring at a blinking cursor on your computer screen). There are lots of techniques, all of which work sometimes but not every time. Keep at it until you find which one suites your page best.
One way to ensure that you body copy is written concisely is to avoid modifiers and simply write what you mean. Most modifiers are abstract anyway. What does “really” or “very” actually mean? Most people see these words in varying degrees so they aren’t helpful in conveying something specific.
If you want to say that, “she stretched out really far in order to catch the ball,” it’s better to write, “she dove for the ball” – shorter and more descriptive. Instead of, “he’s a very good worker,” “he is hard-working,” is quicker and more tangible.
If you can write it shorter, whether that means using one word instead of a phrase; replacing an adverb with a verb; or using a simple sentence rather than a more complex one, then write it shorter. Your readers will appreciate being able to find what they’re searching for quickly.
Here are some commonly used phrases that can be easily replaced to get you thinking of how you can shorten your writing. Get in the habit of always thinking about how you can simplify every sentence you write.
Sometimes readers only want to read a particular section of your copy and other times they only want to extract a small amount of information and nothing else. Use formatting to help readers find what they need. Bullet points and subheads can break up your copy and help readers scan easily.
Most of the time, writing in an informal and conversational style works best, allowing readers to appreciate the simplicity and readability of your content. With few exceptions, avoid long meandering sentences and don’t pepper your copy with jargon. Other than that, use your own creativity.
Make your copy findable by search engines. Don’t litter your copy with keywords, but look for ways to incorporate them into your copy. Today’s web copywriter should be skilled in keyword research and estimating a keyword’s potential: that keyword has twice as much traffic but is less than half as likely to create conversion events. They should understand the mathematical relationship between revenue per visitor, search volume, keyword competiveness and website relevance.
Use keyword research tools such as (Google’s) to find relevant keywords. Look for ways to include keywords in your article without sacrificing the quality of your copy. Mention words and their derivates: if the keyword is “key”, you should use “keyed” and “keyless” too. Where a keyword is of greater importance, try to include it in the title and early on in the copy.
Consider how you can improve the usability of your website using effective copy. Looks for ways to add reassurances, prompts and guidance. What is a credit card security number? Make it clear or link to somewhere that does this for you.
If you sell a product, speak with your customer services and sales people to find out questions customers ask. Do not relegate answering questions to an FAQ page or support section: you should also interweave answers to commonly asked questions throughout your copy.
If confusion exists, use effective copy to add clarity. Remember: ambiguity kills sales.
Use split testing and multivariate testing to check how visitors react to your copy. If you don’t know much about split testing, you should read this article first. Split testing provides a compelling way for you to increase sales and ensure your copy is always getting better. Test your design and copy to optimize results.
Split testing is important for bloggers too. Test how you can improve bounce rates, newsletter signups and RSS subscriptions.
Linking to other worthwhile websites is just as important as providing your own well-written content. Readers who find other helpful sources through your well-placed links will be more likely to remember your site. Through linking out, you can avoid giving banal details and be more concise.
Linking to other sites also puts you on the radar screens of the sites you linked to. If editors and writers of those sites like yours, they will be more likely to link to your site in the future. For bloggers, in particular, this is a helpful technique in catching someone’s attention.
On the internet you can’t expect to dazzle readers with just words. The internet’s greatest quality is its ability to provide content in every way imaginable, combining words, pictures, graphics, audio and video. And while all of these elements on one page would be overload, using multimedia to convey or enhance your written content is one of the best ways to entice readers, keep them coming back and get them to share your content.