Writing for the web is part art and part science. ‘Art’ includes the ability to make your words flow and to make them sufficiently compelling to keep the readers’ attention. ‘Science’ refers to your ability to get the reader to follow the journey from awareness through to purchase (or a key action, such as a request for a meeting).
It is widely accepted that website visitors scan web pages. As they typically see many website pages in a day, they are hunting for useful, relevant content. They do this by scanning ‘signposts’ on the page, including headlines and subheads.
I have taught internet marketing since 2000. During my seminars, presentations and consultancy sessions I am often surprised at how confusing web pages can be. With regards to the text on the page – start by getting the headline right.
Write effective headlines
The headline = the signpost for your page content (or newsletter story, blog entry etc). It is critical that it is easy to read and understandable. For example, the headline for this blog entry is ‘How to write for the web’. This is short and it includes keywords (good from an SEO perspective). It also holds out the promise of a solution to a challenge.
An example of a headline which has proved effective for me is ‘How to go viral on YouTube‘. At the time of writing, if you search for this phrase, some 126 million web pages are found via a Google search. My blog entry is usually within the first few pages of a Google search.
Early words have a greater impact
Within all of your online copy, pay close attention to the first two or three words within headlines, opening sentences, subheads and bullet points. The human eye will use these words as signals that the reader is in the right place.
Break your copy up with subheads (like I have done, within this blog), so that the reader can quickly scan your copy and find what they are looking for.
Use bullet points
The benefits of bullet point lists include:
* Easy to scan
* They work well on different screen sizes
* Each bullet point acts as a headline
Write short sentences
This has become one of my mantras. Short sentences are easy to read. They work well within websites and other forms of online collateral. If you divide long sentences into shorter ones, you are going to have to work harder (and your reader will have to work less hard).
The generally accepted wisdom is to write less online, than you would in print. For example, some experts will tell you to write half of the words you would write in print. This advice is wrong. I have consistently found that the more you write, the more you sell. If you have specific web pages that you would like us to give you feedback on, you are welcome to ask us to take a look, via The Marketing Compass website.
Here is a previous blog entry from The Marketing Compass on the AIDCA copywriting model. This is an effective way of structuring a web page, when a direct response is required.
10 rules of copywriting
Here is a blog regarding the 10 rules of copywriting.
Here is a blog entry entitled: How to make blogs easier to read.
The ability to write well and quickly will give you a strategic advantage. Write some ‘marketing words’ every day. Ask for feedback and keep learning.
As always – any questions – just ask!
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