Good Web Writing Will Pay Dividends
You put your brand and your reputation on the line with everything you publish on your website. If your site does not reflect the high quality of products and services your organization promises for customers, they will be puzzled, even suspicious.
They may ask, “How can I trust this business to deliver what it says it can deliver when its site is poorly written, full of mistakes and hard to navigate to find what I’m looking for? I’m wasting my time!”
Writing for the web isn’t rocket science. You have to know your primary audience and ideal reader. You have to have a command of the subject matter and the benefits you offer. And you have to write clearly, accurately and engagingly to grab the attention of time-starved readers looking to you, through your website, to help them.
Remember to identify and then write for your primary audience – the target audience that is looking for exactly what you have to offer. They are your ideal readers. If you connect with them right away and show that you can meet their needs, you’ve taken a huge first step.
There’s a secondary audience to keep in mind, too. These folks hang out with your primary audience and influence them. Say you are targeting a primary audience made up of financial advisors. A secondary audience might be investors who work with a financial advisor. An investor who visited your site might ask their advisor about your product and trigger an advisor’s engagement with you.
With your audience firmly in your sights, let’s get to writing … and rewriting … and editing
WRITE, REVISE, WRITE SOME MORE
Remember, a first draft is a draft. Don’t get too attached to your stellar prose. Sure, your first version seems to be pretty darn good, and you worked hard on it. But you can probably do better on round two.
Your teammate, perhaps she’s the leader of the website project, may have another idea based on discussions she’s had with other executives. Maybe it’s not a better idea, but you’ll work it out together.
Then, of course, the boss or client has the final say. Something is missing? Something is glossed over? Too much hype? Not enough selling? Be prepared to revise your copy.
At Kinetic, our writers take a lot of pride in website work for clients. We choose words carefully, pay attention to consistency of tense, tone and voice. Some great phrases don’t see the light of day because, in the end, there was an even better way to say it. Our designers and programmers add their exceptional expertise to this creative process to bring a new website to life.
Here are some other important tips:
- Don’t overdo the jargon, acronyms or technical insider-speak. You don’t have to work that hard to impress your readers. Just get your information across clearly and crisply. Customers will appreciate that.
- Remember the excitement of a KISS, as in “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Please excuse the snarkiness, but the point is, “less” is often “more” when it comes to writing in general, and especially writing for the web. Many web readers are scanning the page looking for a nugget of info, a pertinent passage, something of value that will make them pause to read more of what you want them to read.
- Write your copy chunks in the inverted pyramid style, with the most important information at the wider top of the section. Get more detailed as you continue toward the point of the upside-down pyramid.
- Make your text easy to skim. Break up text-heavy paragraphs into bulleted lists. Write shorter sentences and tighter paragraphs. Your website designers will appreciate the effort to make copy shorter and more readable, too. If you come across photos, videos and graphics that will help illustrate each webpage, pass them along to your designer to help them create pages that are visually engaging.
- Write in active voice; avoid passive tense. Instead of “The project was created by Paula,” write “Paula created the project.” The word “by” is one giveaway that you’ve slipped into the passive voice. Get rid of it, rewrite and discover a sentence that is active and shorter.
- Don’t write an encyclopedia, but do provide some specifics. A financial advisor might boast of “a long track record of strong returns for investors.” But the message is more powerful with just a few more details added: “She ranks in the Top 10% for investor returns for the last five years.” Highlight benefits and address misinformation about your products.
- Those specifics can help with SEO – as do the headlines, subheadings, keywords and keyword phrases that optimize copy for strong search results. Zac, our Digital Marketing Executive, recently offered valuable advice for strong SEO copywriting. Check out his SEO blog at our website.
- Internal links within your site can help with SEO, but don’t overdo it. Make sure you are linking to relevant information. And remember, if the reader follows that link you have embedded, they may miss out on key information on the page or site they are leaving.
- Calls to action, which readers click to be directed to a page where they can Order, Download, Sign Up and Contact are essential. Be sure to provide convenient ways for a customer to take action when they have the urge.
- Make your prose accessible. No need to show off your elongated (I mean long), fancy words when a short one or two will do. Pulling out your sesquipedalian words (long and multisyllabic) probably won’t boost customer engagement.
- Clean, grammatical writing will win the day. Do you know the “that vs. who” rule? How about “it’s vs. its?” Check your hyphens; compound modifiers often benefit from them. That small business leader (without the hyphen) is a short fellow. With the hyphen, this small-business leader is the man in charge. Here are 10 respected grammar resources to explore, recommended by Grammarly.
Above all, for any writing project – a website, one sheet, brochure, newsletter, work proposals, white papers – remember to budget time for editing and proofreading. Polish the gem!