James Joyce would have sucked at writing web copy. So, too, old Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Ernie Hemingway, however, would have thrived in a modern day content marketing farm.
But aren’t Joyce and Dostoyevsky gods of literature??
Indeed, but writing for the web is about producing easy to digest, scannable content. Not exactly what these chaps excelled at.
To help your efforts, here are 7 tips for writing effective web copy:
1. Follow the inverted pyramid rule
Stick the big messages – the ones the matter – at the top. People won’t read through a long web page to understand your intent. Readers on the web scan. If they don’t find the information they’re looking for within the first few seconds, they move on.
What to do? Follow the inverted pyramid rule. Start with the conclusion and place the meat of your content at the top and the least important at the end.
2. Use bulleted lists
Bulleted lists and short paragraphs are easy to scan. They make text simple to understand and obviate the need to read through each word of an article. Several studies have shown that people can only remember 7 to 10 things at a time, so keep your bulleted lists short to enable your readers to assimilate the information.
3. Be concise
In an increasingly time-challenged world, the rule of the game is to keep it short, simple and concise. Avoid fluff and use only the words you need to get the information across. Once you are done writing, read your copy aloud to detect awkward or convoluted sentences.
4. Attention-grabbing headlines/sub-headings
Readers decide whether to give your copy a shot based on the heading. Aside from grabbing attention, the title of your article should contain keyword/s that show up in search engine results, RSS feeds, social media and other places online.
Consider the following headlines: i) Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm, ii) What Google’s Hummingbird algorithm means for inbound marketers. The second example is likely to generate more qualified clicks as it unpacks the information in the article. It’ll also be easier to rank for.
5. Include hyperlinks
Links stand out from the rest of the copy and provide cues as to what the page is about. By hyperlinking the page to related pages on your site, you can provide additional information about the subject under discussion.
6. Add images and videos
Support the copy of your web page with images, videos and other media such as drawings, flowcharts, infographics etc. These will visually enhance the page and also improve its readability. Videos and images will further support your search engine optimization efforts.
Web copy must satisfy both humanoids and search engine spiders. Write for your human audience, but seamlessly weave in keywords so that search engines can present your content to readers for specific search terms.