Write effective website copy

Woman's hands typing on a laptop

Good website content engages the reader, boosts your search engine rankings and reinforces your brand. According to Tina Judic, managing director of Found, there is one golden rule: keep it simple!

Firstly, the web is an active medium - we use it to achieve things. If your site doesn't grab and hold attention, visitors need only click their mouse to go elsewhere. Patience is not a virtue often found online.

Secondly, the amount of choice available means people behave differently online. They rarely read pages word for word. Instead, visitors often scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.

A clear message

Once a visitor has arrived, you only have a couple of lines (or even words) to ignite their interest. It is tempting to use clever headings to do this. But clever phrases can easily confuse someone who is scanning a page quickly.

Convoluted writing and complex words are even harder to understand online. Avoid jargon and boastful subjective claims ("best ever"). Web users are busy. They want to get the facts, fast.

This does not mean your copy should be boring. In fact, the shorter and simpler the language, the greater its impact can be. For example:

"We understand the entire web journey from start to finish, and design our websites with both SEO and user conversion in mind"

is not as engaging as:

"Our websites convert searchers into visitors, and visitors into customers".

Yet both essentially say the same thing.

What about search engine optimisation (SEO)?

You need to identify and include keywords, alt tags (text alternatives for images) and well-chosen titles to help potential customers find your content. But avoid constantly repeating keywords ('keyword stuffing') which can damage search performance and make it harder for readers to pick out critical facts and figures.

Strike a balance between SEO and content clarity. Ranking number one on Google won't do much good if your site is confusing.

Organising your content

Website readers will not sit and read through long paragraphs. Start with a headline followed by a short overview. Highlight how your product or service will benefit the customer, rather than simply how it works. After that, vary the layout with:

  • subheadings;
  • summaries;
  • quotes;
  • bulleted lists.

Remember that web content is a conversation. People buy from people. Your content should appear as a direct dialogue between you and the reader. "You" is the next best thing to addressing a customer by name, so use it lots.

Bringing it all together

  • Make sure your web copy is scannable, objective and concise.
  • Use simple, convenient layouts to hold attention.
  • Help people trust you by avoiding overblown or clichéd statements.
  • Use straightforward language so that visitors can quickly understand what you're telling them.

Ensuring your web copy gets to the point helps sell your products and services. It also reflects positively on your brand and can even improve your search performance.

Keep it simple...

Written by Tina Judic of Found.

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