Why is it important to write your copy in a specific style for websites, as opposed to print or other media? It has been shown that reading habits on screen vary greatly from reading habits off screen. People are much more task-oriented online, and read at least 25% slower on screen. It’s a good idea to write about half the amount of text for a web page that you would ordinarily write for an offline document.
Successful website copy is about keeping all your information organised in bite-sized chunks, tailoring your content to your audience, and presenting information in a way that can be easily scanned and searched.
1 – Present information concisely
Visitors want information in bite-size chunks, and they want it now. Usability studies have shown that very few users (around 15%) actually read the text on a web page word-for-word. Rather, the vast majority of users scanned the content looking for keywords or phrases that either contained the information they wanted or possessed some relevance to their interest.
Page titles and meta descriptions are used by people and search engines – make sure they are relevant and concise and help to lead the user to the information they’re searching for.
Here are some tips for keeping your content brief:
- Write concise sentences.
- Keep paragraphs short.
- Use subheadings to break up content
- Provide a summary or overview of key points for longer articles before providing the details.
- Provide clear, concise calls to action.
2 – Use bullet points
Titles and bullet points are the most-read copy on the page. Lists are preferable to paragraphs because they are easier to read and scan, and also carry an implication of succinct information. Make sure that your bullet pointed information is concise, and not just your descriptive text with bullet points applied!
The following list shows which words tend to be read on a bullet list (“word” is read content; “ignored” is ignored content):
- Word word word word ignored
- Word word word ignored ignored
- Word ignored ignored ignored ignored
- Ignored ignored ignored ignored ignored
- Word word ignored ignored ignored
It makes sense to write your bullet points then reorganise their placement according to importance.
3 – Write Search Engine Optimised copy
The content of your website is critical to its success on many levels; it can have an effect on your website Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) rankings (Google places emphasis on sites with well-structured content). Search Engine algorithms are made up of many factors and complex calculations. Why not make the most of the one factor that you have complete control over – your content?
Overall, good SEO copy has:
- A minimum of 300 words per page.
- Between 7% and 9% keywords per page.
- One principal topic per page.
- Links to other relevant pages on the website.
- Succinct, page and paragraph headings that are also rich in keywords.
- Summary bullet points.
4 – Check spelling, grammar and punctuation
A website with content that contains grammatical and spelling errors can lack credibility and doesn’t cast the business in a favourable light. How thorough and focused on quality do your potential clients think you will be if you haven’t taken the time to check your website copy that is made public internationally?