Forget everything you’ve ever learned about writing when it comes to generating copy for your blog or website. Kick punctuation and sentence structure out of your house and set fire to all of the pictures of you and it together in effigy. Write a nasty bold-typed and grammatically inferior email to your high school English teacher and take a baseball bat to the grammar check on your word processor if it tries to give you any guff.
Because, the truth of the matter is, when it comes to writing effective internet content, the rules have decidedly changed. I used to be a copywriter before I came to rest here in the hallowed halls of Wpromote. I’ve written more convincing blogs on topics that nobody cares about than I desire to remember. But over the course of my tenure as a professional wordsmith, I learned some essential tips on how to generate copy for websites, and today I would like to share my “7 Tips For Writing Effective Website Content.”
Perhaps you are familiar with this acronym, or perhaps you are just a massive Gene Simmons fan, either way you know the value of the lowest common denominator (anyone who has ever heard Paul Stanley sing can attest to that.) KISS stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” As copywriters writing for a website, it is our job to craft a message that will be easily digestible for all visitors to a site regardless of their reading comprehension level. For example, if your website is about real estate, don’t expect to dazzle your readers by using a bunch of industry terms and insider acronyms…when you use that language, you’re much more likely to scare the customer off to the next real estate broker’s website. The one where the copy looks like it was written by a sixth grader without a lot of friends. But guess which one of you is going to be selling a house? Keep it simple, and I guarantee you will have a noticeable boost in your conversion almost overnight.
We all know how valuable keywords are when it come to search engine optimization, but the majority of people who dive into writing their own website content aren’t really sure where start when using keywords to maximize both search index and general readability. The beginners guide to SEO recommends that the keyword density of a single term in a single blog be anywhere between 1% and 5%. Generally, this translates into using your keywords once in the title, once in the first paragraph, twice in the second and once in the last sentence. Any more than that and your page will start to read like a thesaurus barfed on it. If you are given a choice between writing content to attract a search engine and writing content that someone is actually going to want to read…pick the latter option. The whole function of copywriting is as a method for writing to attract customers, and search engines don’t have wallets.
3. Bold Type/Punctuation/Italics/Bullet Points:
I call these little syntactic beauties the “the big four tools” of the Internet marketing copywriter’s toolbox—because I’m obnoxious sometimes—and I exploit them one and all with equal abandon. People will not “read” what is written on a website unless they came there specifically looking for that exact product. People will scan. Therefore, it is essential to make your keywords and call to action stand out! Feel free to embolden the main points and keywords that your article is about—but don’t go overboard. How will you know if you used to much bold text? If you look at your copy and your article bears a striking “black and white” resemblance to an MC Escher print, you’ve gone too far, take it down a notch. Use exclamation points conservatively! Otherwise, everything reads like you’re yelling at the user!
Fragment sentences are awesome. They get the job done. Like this one. And this one. And even this one!
- If you can use bold type, punctuation, italics and bullet points together effectively, then you can officially consider yourself a qualified Internet marketing copy ninja!
4. Negative Space/Paragraphs:
Let your copy breathe. What you don’t write on the page is sometimes almost as effective as what you do write. Less is very often more when it comes to website content. The best practice for balancing the copy on a page is to write out what you are going to say on your site, preview it, and then take five literal steps away from your monitor and look at your content holistically. If the paragraphs look lop-sided and the bold type is too concentrated and the margins are off from five paces away…then it’s going to look even worse when you actually challenge someone to read it while they are sitting at their computer. Balance your paragraphs with plenty of breathing room and allow your words the opportunity to look as nice as they read and you will get results.
Effective use of headings on your page and blog is another SEO 101 trick that every content writer must have down cold if they expect to show up in the SERPS. The HTML protocol for creating headers on a web page entails placing the phrase you want to use as a heading between the opening header tag <h> and closing header tag </h>. Headings are ranked in importance (essentially from most important header to least important) from <h1> through <h6>. Header usage is essential for SEO…but it is equally essential for the actual reader. Headers give the eye something big to rest upon. Use keywords in your headers to snag those eyes before they click off your page, forever lost in the ether of the rest of the Internet.
Using lists to organize your ideas and attract readers is one of the dirtiest tricks in the book when it comes to generating web content. Think about it, how many times have you clicked on a link simply because it was purportedly to an article about “The Top Five Uses for Floor Wax in Rio De Janeiro” or “Eight Reasons You Should Poke a Beagle in the Face With a Spoon”…? You’ve done it. Admit it. It’s no secret. I’ve done it too. Lists speak to a higher human desire to read structured content. Lists make people feel secure in clicking your link; they also effectively arouse our human curiosity. If you don’t believe me, honestly ask yourself whether or not you are now curious to know what the top five uses for floor wax in Rio De Janeiro actually are. See my point?
If you’ve made it this far into my tirade on web copywriting, it is not because you think I possess some sort of preternatural wisdom that no one else has, I simply do not. I spent countless hours writing words and honing a distinct style of voice on the Internet so that I may effectively sell the products that I was being paid to write about. And over that time I discovered that the content that gets the most consistent conversion on a website is not that which is laden with facts or figures or written by some authority, but the content that would bring a customer into the room with me and let me show them the product myself. Personalize your website content so that you speak to your customer and not at them, and they will respond in kind.