Writing web copy – where to place emphasis

Simplicity, rather than sensory overload, is the key to crafting strong web pages.

People are busy, they need to access information quickly and easily, and they resent being made to work. But it can be surprising how many major companies and organisations worldwide fail to recognise this when designing and writing their websites.

Also, powerful copy talks primarily about the customer, not the service or product provider. If a company is constantly blowing its own trumpet, users click off the site and take their custom elsewhere.

When writing web pages you will have to please three masters:

  1. The target audience
  2. The client – They will be looking to see if you stuck to their brief and conveyed their key messages powerfully
  3. The search engines – Is the page information-rich? Is it strongly relevant to the user’s Google search?
    All this can be a difficult thing to achieve. But it does all come together in time.

Most websites basically fall into three categories. They are created to:

  1. Solve a problem (by selling a sought-after product or service)
  2. Provide information of interest
  3. Raise money i.e. websites launched by non-profit organisations

The vast majority of websites belong in Category 1.

When crafting your Web copy:

  • Don’t scream BUY NOW. Instead, invite readers to ‘take a look around the site’ first, as this feels more respectful
  • Don’t shout WE’RE THE BEST! Anyone can say that
  • Don’t talk about passion as much as you talk about skills, expertise and experience. Being passionate doesn’t mean you’re any good. Focus on know-how and experience; show you can solve a problem and take pressure off
  • Avoid criticising competitors (it turns people off and conveys negativity), only talk about what you can do for your readers: how your services could help them
  • Look to break up your documents with subheadings where you possibly can. Subheads help create a road-mapped read that is easy to scan. They can also be optimised with keywords (where SEO is important to a paying client).

Finally, keep in mind that the most common mistake so many website owners/copywriters make is going for the hard sell.

They fail to realise that people hate being sold to (unless they are in the USA perhaps), but love to be helped. The copy has to strike a balance between being persuasive but not pushy.