The Ultimate Guide to Web Copy Best Practices

by Emily Retherford

3 min read

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To represent your brand in the most positive way, you need to follow best practices for your advertising and marketing copy. When customers connect with you online, the first thing they see is your website. The visual representation of your website is extremely important, but so is your website copy. Give your website visitors the best information in the most concise and informative way. Use these web copy best practices to turn website visitors into repeat customers.

The Inverted Pyramid Structure

After analyzing how long people tend to stay on web pages, Microsoft Research found that there is a high likelihood of people leaving a web page after only five seconds. Ten seconds is crucial, and if you can get people to stay for 40 seconds, they will most likely stay for at least another two minutes.

You have to grab your readers’ attention within the first few seconds of their visit to your page. You can do this by following the inverted pyramid structure, where you start with the main point first. You give them the conclusion so they can stop reading at any time and still get your main message. Include relevant keywords within the first few sentences to boost your search engine optimization. For example, if you’re writing a blog post about your newest product or service, include the most important information about the product, such as its benefits and great price point, in the first few sentences, then expand on those points in subsequent sentences.

A Consistent Style Guide

The AP Stylebook is referred to as the journalist’s bible and is probably the most common style guide used on the internet. You can purchase a print copy of the Stylebook or pay for an online subscription. If you prefer free resources, online writing labs such as the Purdue OWL offer tips on Associated Press style for free. If you’re not a fan of AP style or don’t want to learn the ins and outs of journalistic writing, design your own style guide, but make sure it is consistent.

The KISS Principle

Nothing turns readers away like large blocks of text and long, drawn-out sentences. You only have a few seconds to get their attention, and that attention is attracted to short chunks of information rather than long, dense paragraphs. The old adage, “keep it short and sweet,” still applies. Use headings and subheadings; they serve as an outline of what you’re trying to tell the reader, and they draw the reader’s attention. If you’ve got a bland, generic heading, it won’t catch the reader’s eye.

Create headings that inspire curiosity. Make them catchy and relevant. The goal of your website copy is to promote your business and your products or services. In some way, your business is solving a problem; you want a heading that attracts the reader and gets him or her to want to know more.

According to Corey Wainwright from HubSpot, there’s a formula you can follow to write catchy titles or headings: Start with a working title, stay accurate, make it sexy, keep it short, optimize it for searching and social media, and bounce the idea off someone else. Other tips include using strong language, visual cues and clear values.

Other Structural Components

With bullet points, your readers can easily understand and store information. Any list of items can potentially be separated into a bulleted list.

In the few seconds you get from readers, you want them to be able to easily scan the information and pull out the details you want them to retain. You can also do this by bolding keywords or phrases. If you have more bold text than plain text, you’re probably getting a little carried away with what you thought was important.

The Call to Action

The call to action is what you want the visitor to do as a result of reading your blog or visiting your website. It could be illustrated in a graphic or described in a line of text, but it must be actionable.

The action you want the visitor to make can be that you want the reader to download your e-book, comment on a blog post, use a coupon, visit your brick-and-mortar store, shop online on a certain day, buy a product, or make an appointment.

Part of the call to action is giving a clear value proposition, indicating what readers get when they follow through with your call to action. As part of the call to action, include your contact information, such as links to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages. Make it easy for the reader to follow through and get in touch with you.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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