What makes a compelling web copy: correct grammar, short sentences, and simplistic approach, or big words, professional style, highly industrial jargon? In a world where user attention is limited to seconds, how do you manage to keep readers glued to your web copy for several minutes? Do site visitors at all care for what’s there to be said?
Content writers are often caught between what pleases their creative style and what is comprehendible to the readers. One of the obvious challenges of content writing is to come up with a web copy that is self-gratifying yet satisfying to the readers. Following are 10 easy steps that will help you attain a balance between the two:
1. Personal Style – A web copy written in third person is passé. You would want to give your visitors a relaxed environment to read. Readers are looking for informative content, more importantly, information they can easily grasp. Nobody has the patience to sit around with a dictionary under his/her arm, going back and forth to understand what you have written. Why should they anyway, when similar websites are just clicks away?
Your web copy should be conversational. Use of ‘you’ and ‘your’ to address readers helps retain their interest. Occasional use of ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘we’ keeps the conversation going.
I would also suggest an About Me page, preferably with your picture on it, especially if yours is a personal website like a portfolio site or blog. The idea is to reveal a bit of yourself to your readers to help them connect to your website. A Facebook or Twitter page helps, but you don’t know if your readers will at all track you down to social networks.
2. Simple Language – What use is an authority website if the first-time visitor does not understand terminology you have used? Your web copy must accommodate all visitors, niche or otherwise. Of course, your writing style will primarily depend on the type of audience you target. An insurance site would hardly write like a holiday site.
Keep it simple, yet professional. Note: professionalism must not border on use of confounding words and style only a handful of people will understand. You can still be highly professional with simple sentence construction.
3. Personal Stories – Your web copy should bond with its readers. Use personal style highlighted in point #1 to make a connection with your users. Cement connection by sharing personal experiences, opinions, realization; anything that makes your web copy a dialogue, not a lecture.
4. Pictures Help – Images are necessary breaks in your content that help reduce strain. Also, images convey the tone of your words; add an emotional component to ideas. Pages of content is boring, no matter how compelling or useful.
5. Read Aloud – Reading content aloud helps you understand if it’s personal and conversational. If your content doesn’t sound like natural speech, it is stodgy and lacks rhythm. In other words…boring.
6. Edit to End – Always edit your web copy at the end. Make additions, changes, modifications once you have got the entire copy in place. Editing as you go along severs your creative style.
7. Wit/Sarcasm – These are hard to read in writing. Infuse humor where it’s unmistakable; humor that everyone can understand.
8. Don’t Get Carried Away – You can take liberties with personal web copies, but there is some modicum of decency you should maintain. Foul language and too colloquial terminology hurts your brand image. The fine line between funny and distasteful should be maintained.
9. Optimize – Keyword rich content is critical to your site. They help draw in targeted web users. Do a bit of research on what type of keywords the web audience uses to find your niche. Also, because you wouldn’t use a particular keyword to find your niche, does not mean your users wouldn’t either.
10. Scan-Friendly – Yes, users scan content before they read sentences word by word. Don’t forget to add bold headings, bold points in your article, and use bullet lists and italics when you write. Hopefully, users will find pieces of text that will make them stop and read your article.
There will always be a naysayer demeaning content for graphics. Don’t listen! The reason visitors come to a website is because they believe it has information that is useful to them. Without legible scribbles between images, a website doesn’t account for much. Plus, there are search engines to reckon with; without content, a website is just a jumble of colors and pictures without purpose, hardly index-worthy, let alone capable of finding a foothold in organic search.