Writing copy for use online can seem daunting, especially if you are unsure how to tackle it at first: not only is the world wide web a very public place, there are also countless distractions which could prevent your audience from getting your message. But writing good copy for the web doesn’t have to be difficult; just keep these five simple tips in mind to help you write effective, engaging and search-engine-friendly copy.
1. Know What You’re Writing About
According to Streetdirectory.com, many copywriters spend roughly 90% of their time on research and only 10% actually writing. Research forms the structure of the copy, therefore it is important to know what you’re going to write about and to understand the product/service, the company’s customers and competition. By including useful research, the copy can reveal a company’s values and brand image effectively, resulting in a positive representation of the brand presented online. Using this research to gain an understanding of what motivates customers and their purchasing process, a copywriter is then able to write, taking into consideration the target audience’s needs and wants to get them to act to achieve a desired outcome.
2. Producing a Powerful Headline
It is a critical skill to be able to write a strong headline, as this will grab a reader’s attention and encourage them to navigate and read on further through the website. Without a strong headline, it is unlikely that readers will be instantly engaged and may not be interested in reading the rest of the content. According to ‘Copyblogger.com’ a headline is a promise to readers, to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time. You must ensure that your headline supports the body content; for example if your headline asks a question, the content should provide an answer. ‘Discover-your-customers.com’ states how there is a certain formula that should be used when it comes to measuring how effective a headline should be. These are termed the 4 ‘U’s.
- Urgent – Should encourage readers to act now.
- Unique – Ensures that the main benefits stand out, and that the headline shows information in a different/interesting way.
- Ultra-Specific – Specificity is important as it increases the usefulness of the content making the content more compelling.
- Useful – Headline must appeal to the user’s needs.
Headlines that are built with the 4 ‘U’s will be more successful in gaining a reader’s interest immediately, leading to content being read by customers.
3. Engaging Your Audience
Too many businesses are talking ‘at’ their customers rather than engaging them. Engagement is vital, as it should lead to a response from the customers following successful persuasion. It is important to write like a human in a conversational style, as sounding like an advertisement could make a customer turn away, loose interest or question the information’s credibility. Short words need to be used so that it is quick and easy for readers to follow, along with short sentences as readers may have a very short attention span. According to writtent.com readers don’t read every word, the content and copy needs to be able to be skimmed by readers. In relation to this, the layout needs to be easy to follow and spread out. This can be done by separating text into bullet points, using headings or including images amongst the text.
4. Creating a Compelling Call to Action
After gaining the readers attention, and revealing the benefits of the product/service, it is important to then include a ‘call of action’ to encourage readers to make a purchase, contact or even donate to a company. A call to action should be easy to follow, clear so that the reader knows exactly what to do next (without dropping off the site). Persuasion also needs to be used to give reason why readers should take action. A call to action must be encouraged throughout the copy without appearing too desperate or irritating.
5. Keeping SEO in Mind
When it comes to copywriting, it is important to remember to use keywords in regard to SEO. The key words included will be responsible for sending traffic to the company website. The frequency and location of the keywords is also important, as search engines key in on the word patterns people are looking for and return relevant content. After all, what good is having a great page of content if nobody is able to find it? Search engines usually give greater importance/weight to key phrases and words in headlines and sub-headings. Search engines “search” all the copy on your web page for ranking purposes. They also place increased emphasis on your headline. So, it’s crucial to incorporate into a headline, the key words that consumers are typing into their search engines.
While the above is not a definitive list, the five tips above are designed to get you thinking about getting a better return on your online website investment.