Top five tips for writing awesome web copy
Writing compelling copy for the web isn’t as easy as it seems. It is hard to grasp a reader’s attention, especially as you have to do it within the first 100 words. At that point 25% of users have left the site, and by 500 words 60% have left. Here are some top tips to make sure you clutch their attention, and keep them interested throughout.
1. PLACEMENT PERFECTION
When inserting items on a website, it is important to consider the placement of each article. To begin with, our gaze tends to fall smack bang in the middle of the page, and then darts around in a weird diagonal fashion. (See the infographic below) As you can see, the user digests the information on the right hand side last. This is why many companies and businesses place adverts on this side.
Don’t overload your reader with too much information. When a user visits a web page, they are looking for certain key facts. They are likely to skim most of the text rather than read it fully. Use information carrying words in sub-headings and the first two paragraphs.
3. EASY READING
There is nothing more irritating than attempting to read an undoubtedly lengthened sentence with no grammatical breaks and considerably sizeable words. (See what I did there?) Using ‘big’ words is so unnecessary online. Think about alternatives, for example; cop instead of policeman.
People want short sentences, with no more than around 20 words in. Using short paragraphs (around four sentences) also makes for easy reading, and allows the user to digest the text effortlessly.
Even one sentence paragraphs work!
4. WRITING PASSIVELY IS SOMETHING YOU SHOULDN’T DO
That sub heading is passive, instead it could have been: ‘you shouldn’t write passively’. Adjusting text and putting the subject first is a mistake that a lot of writers make. This isn’t wrong, but passive terms seem abnormal to the brain. You should write as you would speak.
I still struggle to get my head round it, but as long as I type as I am thinking then it seems to work! Here are some more examples of passive and active sentences:-
Passive: Costs are rising in the area of postage and packaging
Active: Post and packaging costs are rising
Passive: The letter was sent by Suzanne
Active: Suzanne sent the letter
5. KEEP IT PERSONAL
When someone is reading the content on your website they are probably alone, so address them personally. Use personal pro nouns such as ‘you’ and ‘your’ and when referring to your company use ‘I’, ‘we’ or ‘us’. People like to feel a sense of importance with companies and businesses, even a generic mailer opening with ‘Dear XXX’ makes us feel special.
And finally, writing a blog is different to pretty much all of the above. You can get away with longer sentences and paragraphs and writing in a much more ‘fancy’ way. But, if your blog text has a long word count, people will see it as much more effort to read – so make sure you have a strong, interesting opening!