20 tips for writing effective website copy
Writing copy for websites takes practice. People often try to cram their webpages with tons of information because they feel the reader can’t live without it – but that’s the wrong approach for a web format. (Save that style of writing for your annual report.)
Below are my best practices for writing web copy. (I’ve excluded suggestions and tips as it relates to search engine optimization because that’s a whole separate can of worms – which we can save for another post.)
- Every page needs a headline with eight words or less.
- Headlines should be action-oriented and impactful.
- Words in headlines should be capitalized (except prepositions).
- Paragraphs must be short (40-70 words).
- If you must use paragraphs, break them up with sub-headlines.
- Use short sentences of 15-20 words.
- If the sentence cannot be short, reformat the sentence to read as a bulleted list.
- Keep the total word count for the page to less than 300 words.
- Write for your reader and not for yourself
- Don’t bury the lead. Come right out and say what people need to know in the first sentence.
- Your copy must answer a reader’s questions and/or provide relevant information that he or she will be interested in.
- Use the word “you,” (it’s a powerful word that gets a reader’s attention).
- Don’t forget images and graphics. Images and graphics are more easily absorbed by readers. If you have a complex thought or issue, consider illustrating it instead of trying to explain it.
- Use clear and simple language.
- Avoid slang and jargon.
- Avoid complex sentence structure.
- Avoid passive voice.
- Use bold font to highlight keywords or points of emphasis. Focus on bolding keywords or important thoughts.
- Hyperlink to other pages of your website and make sure your hyperlinks use the same wording as the page name that you are linking to.
- Edit. Edit. Edit. Even when you think the website copy is done, it’s not. Proof it again!
Have other tips? Share them in the comments below.