A website acts like a digital storefront. It’s open round the clock which means that it’s always conversing with your target audience through its website design and content. As it’s such an important tool that’s always working on your behalf, you’ll want to make doubly sure that your writing is communicating the right message.
If you’ve neglected web copywriting up until now, here’s how you can change that. In this article, we'll discuss the most important writing tips. From how to write headlines to creating CTAs, here are the essential elements and how to include them in your writing.
What’s Web Copywriting?:
- Web Copywriting in a Nutshell
- 14 Web Copywriting Tips
- What About SEO?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Web Copywriting in a Nutshell
In short, web copywriting refers to writing online content such as promotional material for the web. It’s basically any text that’s placed online to market ideas, services, or products.
Here are some of the types of content that web copywriters can create:
- Press releases
- White papers
- Case studies
- About Us pages
- Service pages
- FAQ pages
- Social media posts
- Email newsletters
- Product descriptions
- Landing pages
It’s totally different from the process involved in writing content for hard-copy sources. One of the major differences is that the format will be impacted depending on the type of device that’s used. When you’re writing for the web, your images and wording need to be formatted for a range of different devices that include desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
It’s also more challenging than writing for an offline source. It’s much easier for readers to leave a website and find another source than what it is, for example, to buy another magazine. The implication for web content writers is that their copy needs to be so well-written that it will maintain the attention of the target audience right till the last word.
Then, there’s also the role of SEO that you’ll need to consider. At the end of the day, web copywriting isn’t just for human readers, but also for search engines. It requires specialized skill to write a text that will appeal to your target audience, yet be easy for search engines to crawl and index. To do this, you’ll need to know which key phrases to include and how to include them in such a manner that will feel natural to your readers.
14 Web Copywriting Tips
1. Always start with goal of the copy
Too often, writers simply put pen to pads and start writing. Make no mistake, it’s great that they’re eager to get started (and probably better than staring at a blank screen or page not knowing what to write), but it comes at the expense of really knowing what you need to write about and why you need to write about it. Not only will it mean that you’ll get stuck later, but it will also reflect in the end result.
If you have trouble figuring out what this goal is, ask yourself what do you want your audience to do after they’ve read the text.
Also, keep in mind that the goal of website content and other types of online content like blog posts are quite different. When you’re writing a blog post, one of your major goals is to get people to share it across multiple social media networks. On the other hand, website content is more concerned about improving Google search rankings and offering all the key information about a business.
2. Make your headline compelling
When writing for the web, your target audience will already base their first impressions of your content on the headline. In many instances, this judgement is passed without even actually visiting the website or reading a single sentence.
An enticing headline can also help to encourage more people to share your content on social media. It’s not uncommon for people to use this as the ultimate criteria for deciding whether or not an article or post is share-worthy.
The best headlines highlight the usefulness of the content and are very specific (including a number can be great). Also, if you can, find a way to show how your content will be better than the other resources already available about the topic. In other words, what makes it unique?
3. Start with the main message
If you’re writing website copy, each page will have a main point. For example, if you’re creating content for different service pages, each time you’ll focus on the value of that specific service. As you have only a couple of seconds to capture the attention of visitors, it’s best to start with that value proposition right off the bat.
Also, keep in mind that most readers simply scan the content that they consume via the web. So, plan your writing around this.
For this reason, when you’re writing for the web, you’ll use a lot more headings and subheadings. Not only does it help readers to get a quick overview of what the page is about, but it can also take them straight to the section that they’re interested in. And, to make the most of your headlines, be sure to plan them around keywords and important topics.
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4. Stick to shorter sentences and paragraphs
Not only are shorter sentences and paragraphs easier to read, but they’re also more effective at keeping your readers on the page. Every word needs to serve a purpose. There should be a reason why you have to include it. It should be relevant and offer value. If not, hit delete.
After all, if people stop reading your message halfway, what good does it do? So, you want to do everything in your power to get them to read the next sentence. In other words, every line should pull them in more.
In copywriting terms, this is called creating a slippery slide, a term used by Joe Sugarman, one of the ultimate copywriters and author of The Adweek Copywriting Handbook. In short, your copy should be so compelling that your readers are sucked into your copy and effortlessly slide through it till they reach the last sentence.
5. Keep it clear
Sure, it’s important that you engage your readers with enticing copy, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of clarity. It should be clear to your readers why they need what you’re selling without coming across as overly salesy.
What are the needs of your customers and how can your product fulfil those requirements? This is what great web copywriting should always try to answer first and foremost.
6. Conversational works best
When writing for the web, it’s best to keep it laid-back. Imagine you’re writing to a friend. If it’s too formal and full of technical terms, go back and change the tone to something that’s more straightforward.
You have a few key points that you want to communicate, right? Now, how would you share those with a friend?
On the topic of tone, it’s also important that you write in the language that your audience uses. So, depending on your industry, you might have to write more formally. However, all in all, it should still remain engaging and easy to understand.
7. Don’t ignore potential objections
While it might sound counterintuitive, it can actually work to your advantage if you mention possible objections that your target audience might have. Don’t make a big thing of it – simply mention a potential common objection and explain why the product or service that you’re writing about is better. This shows to your target audience that you take customer feedback seriously.
8. Use a positive tone
You want to write in such a way that your brand is associated with solutions. If you focus on the negative stuff, it won’t be the case. As mentioned in the previous point, it can work in your favor to highlight a possible objection, but the majority of your text should focus on the solution that you can offer.
Also, while creating a sense of fear or urgency is often encouraged, it should be used sparingly. First focus on the positives before you turn to this tactic.
9. Include proof
The truth is that people will more often than not have reservations or doubts about the products that they’re being sold. That’s just the way that we’re wired. So, it’s key that your website copy includes proof.
When it comes to adding proof, there are various types of proof that you can incorporate. These include statistics, previous customers, product reviews, testimonials, and case studies.
Too often, web writers focus only on social proof. However, including quantifiable facts in the form of a statistic can make your writing more convincing. As a matter of fact, according to Sprout Social, over 90% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
See what we just did there? We used a statistic about social proof to support our message.
A few statistics in conjunction with social proof are the best formula if you’re searching for ways that you can support your main message. That being said, similarly to how it can work in your favor to highlight a potential objection, when including social proof, don’t shy away from just listing five-star reviews. If you want to create an authentic brand, the odd less-than-stellar review can actually do more harm than good. In fact, it can make your brand more credible and trustworthy.
10. Add several CTAs
A call to action can help you to close a sale. Think of it as a type of virtual sales rep. Whenever readers feel like they’re ready to take you up on the offer that you’re writing about, there should be a call-to-action button close at hand to take them to the next step. So, make sure that you add a number of calls to action (not just at the end of your page) so that people never have to scroll too far to find it.
That being said, your calls to action will only be helpful if they’re clear. When writing CTAs, it’s best practice to start with a verb, followed by a word or two.
What do you want them to do? Simply using wording like “View”, “Download”, “Submit”, “Work”, etc. won’t work. These are too vague which makes the action required unclear.
11. Include three examples where you can
In photography, there’s the well-known rule of thirds. With web copywriting, there’s the rule of three. It doesn’t just have to apply to examples. You can, for instance, use it when structuring your content too. If you’re writing short-form content, try to include three main sections, while if you’re writing long-form content, limit it to three main concepts.
Looks like there was an actual reason why there were three little pigs and three musketeers. It wasn’t just random, but cleverly thought-out titles and plots. A trio of something is just more powerful than a duo. So, use this principle to your advantage when structuring your writing.
12. Use active voice over passive voice
Effective web copy uses active voice more often than passive voice. In other words, the subject of the sentence is the person or thing that performs the action. When you structure your sentences in this way, they’re simpler to understand and more powerful.
13. Insert hyperlinks
When it comes to writing for the web, user experience plays a fundamental role. Everything that you add should improve the user experience. Unlike when you’re writing for offline sources, web copywriting also needs to pay attention to navigation. It should be easy for your audience to find their way around your text(s).
With the help of internal links, readers can find out more about your business and its offerings, while external links enable them to learn more about relevant topics with the click of a button – literally. Internal links can also help you to rank higher on Google. However, you should always prioritize the interests of your audience instead of merely inserting links left, right, and centre for your own gain.
14. Focus on your customer not your brand
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when writing for the web is to make your brand or business the focus. Instead, the focus should be on your target audience, more specifically their needs. The reason why they’re actually reading something about the business or brand is to find out if it can offer them something.
This means that your copy should speak directly to them. Simply by using the words “you” and “your”, your writing will become more personal already. It lets your audience feel special and closer connected to your brand which effective web copywriting is all about.
What About SEO?
We would be negligent if we didn’t mention something about SEO when writing about web copywriting. That being said, SEO is a whole blog post (if not more) on its own. So, by no means is this section all that there’s to know about SEO. Instead, it’s just a few pointers for how you can keep it in mind when writing for the web.
As mentioned earlier, when you’re writing web content, you’re writing for two audiences: the search engines and your target audience. To create texts that convert, you’ll always need to keep this at the back of your mind.
The challenge is that search engine algorithms change from time to time. So, what worked today won’t deliver the same results forever. That being said, there are some key principles that you can follow to create high-quality content that will appeal to both audiences. With regards to writing specifically, these include:
- Integrating keywords (as well as LSI keywords) naturally
- Writing interesting meta titles and descriptions
- Creating internal links
- Getting more backlinks
- Creating copy that matches search intent
- Sharing statistical data
Wrapping Things Up
There’s more to writing than merely brainstorming a few ideas, writing a first draft, making a few edits, and, voila, you’re ready to publish. Firstly, you have two audiences. While your main audience is your potential customers, if you don’t try to keep the search engines happy too, these customers will have a hard time finding the content that you’ve spent hours creating.
So, there’s that challenge.
Then, once you’ve managed to get people to click on your link, you need to find ways to keep them on the page for as long as possible. For this, you’ll need a compelling headline backed up by a well-structured text. Overall, shorter sentences and paragraphs work better.
However, if your tone isn’t pitched correctly, not even a headline and an easy-to-read text can keep them on the page. You need to find the fine balance between coming across as positive and focused on solutions, yet authentic. So, if you’re aware of potential objections or bad reviews, don’t necessarily sweep it under the rug completely.
At the end of the day, you want to write in such a way that makes it all about the customer (and less about your brand). So, whatever you add, whether it’s a feature, call-to-action button, or an internal link, should be in the best interest of your target audience. Get this right and your brand will shine even though it wasn’t necessarily the star of the text.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you write a press release?
To write a good press release, you should include some type of newsworthy angle that shows your target audience why they should care about your announcement. You should also include only the most important information so that your readers remain interested. While there’s no specific formula for writing a press release, the following are some important principles that you should include:
A quote from a key figure
An introductory paragraph that covers the who, what, when, where, and why
How do you optimize product descriptions for search engines?
When you’re writing product descriptions, it’s important that you identify keywords (as well as variations of the keywords) that your target audience will most likely use when they search for a product. You can either use an SEO tool, like SEMrush or Ahrefs, or Google Analytics to identify the relevant keywords. Once you’ve identified a few, you should include these keywords and variations in the copy as well as the product titles, page titles, meta descriptions, and ALT tags.
Should you include internal links in your web copywriting?
Internal links (hyperlinks that link to another page on the same domain) can help Google to find and index your web pages helping you to rank higher. One of the benefits of using internal links is that the anchor text may be an exact match of the content making them relatively simple to create. Also, you don’t have to depend on other third-party websites as is the case with backlinks. When including internal links, you should ideally place them toward the beginning of the web page.
Can you make money with web copywriting?
Web copywriting is a great way to make money online from home. It’s a huge industry and so you’re bound to find clients (you can, for example, check out sites like Fiverr and Upwork to get started). All you essentially need are a passion for writing and marketing, a knack for words, research skills, a laptop, and a reliable internet connection. This means that you’ll have minimal overhead costs as you can easily work from home making it easier to get started and make money.
What’s the difference between content writing and copywriting?
The difference between content writing and copywriting isn’t that big as these services are very similar. Also, many content writers and copywriters label themselves as both. One important difference is that content writers are generally responsible for creating longer types of content with the goal of informing readers, while copywriters usually create shorter pieces that concentrate more on marketing than simply offering information.
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Writing for the web describes writing that's adapted to the reading habits of people when they're online: to scan, to pick out keywords, and not read everything word-for-word.How can a beginner start copywriting? ›
- Keep Writing. ...
- Focus on Benefits, Not Features. ...
- Maintain Conversational Copy. ...
- Use Hemingway's Help. ...
- Tell Stories Whenever Possible. ...
- Do Competitor Research. ...
- Master Subject Matter. ...
- Know Your Value.
Copywriters don't write content, don't write words to fill empty space in designs, and don't just write. Obviously, they have nothing to do with copyright law. Copywriters write copy. But it's not the whole story...What type of writing is copywriting? ›
Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy or sales copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.How can I start writing? ›
- Start in the Middle. If you don't know where to start, don't bother deciding right now. ...
- Start Small and Build Up. ...
- Incentivize the Reader. ...
- Commit to a Title Up Front. ...
- Create a Synopsis. ...
- Allow Yourself to Write Badly. ...
- Make Up the Story as You Go. ...
- Do the Opposite.
- Use short paragraphs. ...
- Your first paragraph is the most important one. ...
- Write in an inverted pyramid style. ...
- In most cases, it's best to use subheadings to clarify the subject of various sections on a page. ...
- Don't waste space welcoming people to the page. ...
- Just when you think you are done, look again.
- Who is your audience? Ask yourself: What do they need and what are they looking for?
- What is most relevant? Is everyone already covering this in the same way and can I provide something different?
- What is the best use of my time?
The 4 Ps structure consists of promise, picture, proof, and push in place of the four elements of attention, interest, desire, and action. The 4 Ps provide more expansive elements than AIDA, which is why it's a favorite of many top copywriters, notably John Forde.