5 Rules for Writing Website Copy that Works

the old rules of writing no longer apply. best practices for writing web site copy

When it comes to writing for the web, the rules you learned in English 101 no longer apply.

Web copy eschews flowery language in favor of persuasive language that addresses your readers’ needs, prioritizes key messages, and a promotes one specific goal for each page of your website to build traffic, engage visitors, or convert sales.

Writing compelling copy doesn’t come naturally to most people; however, it is a skill that can be learned with practice.

To get you started, here are five basic rules for writing for the web:

Ensure your copy speaks directly to your readers. Write your copy as if you are having a conversation with your ideal readers. Acknowledge them by using the word “YOU,” instead of the more abstract “our clients” or “customers.”

Be brief, but clear. Use concise, short paragraphs and clearly labeled sections of information. Remember the three “R’s”– Rambling Repels Readers.

Put the focus on your readers’ needs. Avoid focusing on the product or service you sell. Every reader comes to the page asking, “What’s in it for me?” They are more concerned with solving their problems and easing their pain than they are about the widget you are selling. Remember, first focus on awareness; next focus on engagement; then comes the sell.

Make your pages skimmable. Studies show most readers scan web pages, so make sure your most important words and concepts pop out. Don’t bury your best ideas “below the fold” or deep in your page’s content. Format your copy with bullets, bold text, sub-headlines, and white space to give your readers’ eyes a break from walls of words.

Ensure every page/every section of your site includes a clear, interactive call to action. For example, ask readers to comment; to take a quiz; to click here to set up an appointment; to download a free worksheet, etc. Never leave a reader guessing about the next step to take.

Forget everything you learned in school about writing essays and term papers. When you write copy for your website, your goal is to eliminate confusion, build trust, encourage referrals, and transform skimmers into devoted fans.

We created the Websites That Work Quiz to help identify which sections of your website need to be rewritten with the rules of the web in mind.

After you take the quiz, we will send you the Watch Your Words Worksheet to clean up your website’s copy and ensure your key messages stand out. Take the quiz to get started.


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