There is no hidden secret to writing great copy for the web. All that you need to know is already before your eyes. After you read this article, go visit your favorite web hangout and take a good look around. Chances are you’ll begin to notice some of the characteristics of web copy that I’ve listed below.
1. Keywords are the key to great web copy.
Picture the web as a global library. The search engines index every bit of information categorically, much like the index at the back of a book. But while books are a great way to unleash creative expression, the web is a bit more restrictive. If you want to be found on the search engines, the web copy MUST contain basic keyword terms – words that humans would likely type into a search box.
This is not to say that you must kiss your old SAT vocabulary flash cards goodbye forever. But you’ve got to get a harness on those obscure terms that nobody understands, and opt for common terminology instead. If you don’t, your web copy is not doing it’s job – and that is, helping you get found.
2. Web copy requires links.
I’ve had plenty of aspiring web copywriters ask me this question and I can almost hear the groan in their voices: “Do I REALLY need to include HTML links in my web copy?” The answer is 100% yes.
The keywords I mentioned above function much better when they’re riding on hyper text, or links. This is how people surf from one page to the next… via the links. Therefore, you have no choice but to include them in your copy if you want to claim yourself as a halfway decent web copywriter (the rest will depend on if you can actually write in a way that excites the human brain).
3. Web articles should be short (under 800 words).
When I say 800 words, I really mean 600 but I’m being nice because I know it’s difficult to stop writing once you’re on a roll. The web surfer’s attention span is incredibly short and in some cases nonexistent. Therefore, you don’t want his or her eyes to glaze over as s/he scrolls haphazardly down the page of copy that you poured your soul into for hours.
Best to save the soul-searching copy for a love letter to that special someone, and instead keep that web page short and sweet, the way that the typical web surfer likes it. You know from being a web surfer yourself, what happens when someone loses you with their wordy meanderings – you click away, never to return. So don’t commit the same sin when writing your web articles.
4. Web copy works better when it’s broken into pieces.
I can’t say this enough. It really doesn’t matter what you’re writing; it could be home page copy, a web article, a blog post or any other type of miscellaneous content. Whatever it is, you’re far more likely to hold the reader’s attention if you break up your copy into short, snack-sized sections. Begin each section with a compelling headline that makes use of a popular keyword term and has been bold-treated for extra emphasis. Search engines and humans with scattered minds eagerly gobble up this format of copy for lunch!
5. Good web copy stays simple and to the point.
Simple doesn’t necessarily mean boring. You can still add some verve and spice to your web copy while keeping on topic, but effective web content does require significant trimming. If you were writing a book for print, you’d want to load up your copy with similes, analogies and illustrated examples. But unlike books, the web forces you to keep a tight reign on your mental wanderings.
The more focused on one topic you are, the better chance you have of ranking high for your niche topic and keywords and the more pairs of eyes your web site will reach. That is, if you plan to write copy that sells a product or service which you likely are if you’re writing for the web.
Of course, you are the master of your web content – so it’s ultimately up to you what to publish. But for those who are new to the whole internet business thing, you may want to take a good, close-up look at how prominent web sites structure their copy, and then model yours after what you see. With a little bit of guidance and a lot of practice, writing website copy will become like second nature.