Why is writing for websites different from other copywriting?

Writing for websites is very similar to copywriting for billboards – you have about 3-5 seconds to make an impression as people move past your site at 80mph.

Users don’t read. They scan. This is why it’s important to be clear and concise when writing for the web. On the other hand, you want to make sure you have all the content you need to make search engines, like Google, happy! Here are some tips we like to share with our clients to help them get started writing their web content.

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Make data-driven decisions.

If you have an existing site, use analytics and insights to get information on what your user is looking for and how you can make their user experience even better.

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Identify your readers and goals.

Research WHO is using your site and WHY. You want to write with your potential readers, your goals, and THEIR goals in mind — using language they can easily understand.

Need help identifying your audience? Check out our Do You Know Your Audience post for some more tips!

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Avoid shop talk.

Make things easy to understand for someone who may not be part of your team or industry. You don’t want to throw in words or phrases that would only be clear to you and your peers.

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Make it easy to scan.

You need to make your copy short, sweet and easy to understand. It’s best to use small paragraphs consisting of short sentences and headlines to break up information.

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Cut it down and cut it out.

When you use fewer words, it makes it easier to scan a webpage. Don’t include a lot of chatter or “happy talk.” You should give the user what they need to know and save the rest for your other marketing materials – like blogs or social channels!

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Include key words and phrases.

Make sure you feature words and phrases that are tied to what you want to be known for. Think of questions your user will ask (via search engine) and answer them.

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Be consistent.

Be consistent in your overall tone and style. For example, if your work is displayed in a portfolio, call it a “portfolio” in each reference, instead of “gallery” or “work samples.”

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Make your calls to action (CTAs) clear.

Be very clear with your action items. If you want a user to visit your contact page and submit a form, then say that. Don’t be vague – make buttons and links clear and to the point.

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Put yourself in your users’ shoes.

Use an appropriate tone of voice and make sure you get the user where they want to go quickly and without a lot of distraction or frustration.

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Keep it simple.

As Steve Krug, a well-known usability expert, said,

“Experts are rarely insulted by something that is clear enough for beginners”

Simplify your words so they are quickly recognizable to a variety of audiences.

Need help?

If you’re looking at your website and aren’t sure where to get started, we can help! In addition to these web copywriting tips, we’ve blogged on other topics from Knowing Your Audience to Tech Speak to Maximizing Accessibility.

Contact Red Orange to see how we can work together to make your website stand-out.