Consumers get bombarded with countless promotional messages every single day. In fact, according to OptinMonster, there are about 70 million posts being published each month by WordPress users alone. Whether it’s a landing page or simply subject lines for email newsletters, the words you pick should move your readers.
As people read online content differently to how they would read print material, there are a couple of best practices that copywriters should keep in mind when they are creating content specifically for the web. Plus, in addition to writing for a human audience, they are also indirectly writing for the search engines. By implementing the following 13 best practices, digital content writers can create compelling content that boost conversion rates.
Writing for the Web: 13 Best Copywriting Practices:
- 1. Identify and listen to your audience
- 2. Highlight connections
- 3. Use a compelling headline and several subheadings
- 4. Keep your paragraphs short
- 5. Incorporate a positive tone
- 6. Make it relatable
- 7. Add facts and figures
- 8. Leave out unnecessary words
- 9. Include hyperlinks
- 10. Keep SEO in mind
- 11. Add clear CTAs
- 12. Create a creative brief
- 13. Conduct A/B testing
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Identify and listen to your audience
When writing website content, your objective is to create a text that focuses on the target audience of the business. To do this, you first need to know who this target audience is. This will require some research and time as you want to create a few different user personas that your copy will target. For example, the same product can be targeted at a soon-to-be mother as well as a grandfather of five.
Once you have identified to whom you are writing, it is time to get to know them better. Successful copywriters listen to their audience. It’s only through listening that they can become acquainted with their wants and wishes. What’s more, by listening to your audience, you will also become familiar with the type of language that they will respond to best.
2. Highlight connections
Instead of approaching a topic directly, take the time to identify different approaches or perspectives. What makes the topic important? For example, if you are writing about a product or service, are there perhaps any connections between it and the experiences that it can offer?
3. Use a compelling headline and several subheadings
The truth is that website visitors will not read every single page. After all, they are visiting a website and not curling up in bed with a book.
You should, therefore, write with the knowledge that readers will only scan your text. So, make your heading compelling and clear to capture their attention. Then, include several subheadings to improve the readability of the text so that it is easier for users to understand and recall the information.
For example, if you are writing blog posts, build your headlines around the target search terms and make sure that the readers will be able to tell what they will gain by reading the post. Then, to make it even more effective, be sure to appeal to the emotions of your readers.
4. Keep your paragraphs short
Another way that you can improve the readability of your text is by using shorter paragraphs. It is much easier for readers to make sense of the information when the paragraph is short. To practice what we preach, we’ll leave the discussion about paragraphs at that. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
5. Incorporate a positive tone
Overall, the brand voice should be positive. This helps you to communicate to your audience that the business is trustworthy and focused on offering solutions to their problems. Sure, at times you will want to instill a sense of urgency or fear, but these techniques should be used sparingly.
In addition to using a positive tone, keeping it conversational is also recommended. Though, it is crucial that the tone of voice aligns with the brand identity at all times. So, if you are writing for a legal firm or financial institution, for instance, it should not come at the cost of remaining professional.
6. Make it relatable
To help you make your piece of content relatable, it is key that you also focus more on your audience than the business and its products or services. You want to make the potential customers feel seen. For this reason, content that uses the second-person point of view (in other words, pronouns like you, your, yours, and yourself) is more personal, direct, and relatable which will help to foster a closer connection.
Another way to make your content relatable is by appealing to the emotions of your readers. For example, depending on the most common emotion that they are experiencing, you can compose your text so that it appeals to their sense of desire, annoyance, jealousy, or anger.
Though, remember that you should guard against coming across as negative. If you focus on negative emotions like outrage and jealousy, this becomes more difficult. So, ensure that there is a good balance and that these negative emotions do not get transferred to the brand and its products or services.
At the end of the day, your readers want to know how what you are selling will improve their lives. So, the secret when writing about a brand and its offerings is to focus on how it can be beneficial to the target audience instead of merely listing the features directly.
7. Add facts and figures
While it is crucial that your text should be relatable, it should also be convincing. By including relevant, up-to-date statistics sparingly, it becomes easier for your audience to trust the brand and its products. Otherwise, how else would they be able to verify that what you are selling to them is indeed true?
In addition to incorporating quantifiable data, depending on the type of text, you can also include social proof like customer testimonials and reviews. While your overall tone of voice should be positive, when including social proof it’s actually better to include a less-than-stellar review every now and again. It might sound counterintuitive, but it can help to improve the credibility of the brand.
8. Leave out unnecessary words
Good copy is actually simple and succinct. In fact, some are so bold to say that you can remove about half of the words on a page without losing critical content. Unlike other types of content, when you are writing for the web, your objective is to get your visitors to complete some type of action. If you have big blocks of text and long sentences, it becomes more difficult for your visitors to know what that action is.
So, avoid excessive words by simplifying wordy phrases. It’s also better to use active voice instead of passive voice. That being said, you should still include ample action verbs in your copy. Verbs like “explore”, “launch”, “create”, and “grow” will help to make your text come to life and awaken readers to go over into action.
Every word should be used for a reason. It should be relevant, necessary, and offer value. If not, hit delete and don’t look back. Words are important – make them count.
9. Include hyperlinks
As you should have realized by now, when you are writing high-quality content for the web specifically, fortune favors those who are bold enough to keep it simple. Another way that a content marketer can achieve that is by including internal and external links. It helps to create a seamless user experience and, at the same time, makes it easier for visitors to find out more about the business and other relevant topics. Internal links specifically also help to decrease the bounce rate.
However, you should always keep your visitors in mind when inserting hyperlinks. Internal and external links should be there to make it easier for them to find what they need, instead of purely for search engine optimization purposes.
10. Keep SEO in mind
While you should not write to please search engine algorithms per se, you should keep in mind what your target market is searching for online. In other words, which keywords will they Google?
Experienced SEO copywriters know the dangers of keyword stuffing. Instead, it is better to create content that answers these search terms as opposed to stuffing the text with keywords. Whichever keywords you do include should be done in a way that is completely natural.
11. Add clear CTAs
Even with a compelling headline, subheadings, short paragraphs, and a succinct text, it might not be crystal clear which action readers should take next. This is where CTAs step into the picture.
Effective call-to-action prompts are both clear and compelling. For this reason, one-word CTAs should be avoided. Every call to action that you create should start with a verb followed by a relevant phrase to ensure that it is easy to understand, yet enticing. In short, visitors should always know exactly what will happen once they click on the link.
12. Create a creative brief
By taking the time to create a creative brief before you put fingers to keyboard, it’s much easier to ensure that these best copywriting practices are followed. In short, the brief will offer an overview of the key goals and requirements of a project. It typically includes details like:
- Name of the client
- Mission statement of the brand
- The goal of the project
- Brand identity
- Target audience
- Important numbers and other facts about the client’s performance
- Technical SEO considerations
13. Conduct A/B testing
So, you’ve tried your best to implement these best practices, but how do you know if it has worked? Moreover, often writers come up with multiple headings, CTAs, sentence structures, etc. While this is a good problem to have, knowing which to use might not be as clear-cut.
With the help of A/B testing, you will be able to see how different texts and messages compare. For this important step, you will create two texts, such as two landing pages, and then split the traffic between them to see which one drives the best traffic.
The very least you should do is implement some type of system for quality assurance. Even expert copywriters need a second pair of eyes to check for broken links, typos, grammar, meaning, and user experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best ways to make your content easier for readers to read?
Texts with short sentences and paragraphs are generally easier to read. You can also improve the readability further by including several subheadings. This will make it easier for your audience to understand and recall the information.
How can I monetize a blog if it doesn’t get a lot of traffic?
You can check out a blog advertising network such as Media.net that does not have a minimum traffic requirement. This makes them a good alternative for smaller or newer blogs. They are one of the biggest contextual ad networks and are trusted by WebMD, CNN, Good Housekeeping, Forbes and CBS Interactive. As a matter of fact, according to their website, they are the second biggest contextual advertising business across the globe based on revenue.
Are blog posts an effective marketing tool?
Blogging is the most common type of web content and can help to improve SEO and the chances that your website will be found in the web searches for relevant keywords. According to HubSpot, brands that publish blog posts 16 times per month can create nearly 3.5 times more traffic than those that publish blog posts only four times per month. Blog posts can also be monetized by using affiliate marketing or on-site ads, making it a very effective marketing tool.
How can I become a better content creator?
Successful content creators understand their target audience and know what motivates them. In addition to learning more about your target audience, you also need to find out more about the industry for which you are creating content. This will help you with keyword research so that you can make your content more relevant to readers and appealing to search engines.
What is a CTA?
A CTA is a call-to-action message that encourages visitors or readers to take a certain action. It is typically a short phrase on buttons, but can also be leading sentences ahead of a link. Some of the most common calls to action are simple phrases like “sign up for free trial”, “learn more”, and “buy now”. CTAs are an important piece of your marketing funnel and are usually found on home pages, landing pages as well as in blog posts and emails.