Writing Web Copy That Works
|Writing web site text ain't easy but you can do it.|
Whether you work from home as a web writer, or you go to the big corner office each day, web writers need to understand the science of search engine optimization and the art of writing to attract the attention of a human being – in 6.4 seconds, the average time a site visitor takes to evaluate the usefulness or interest of your client’s website.
That’s not much time. But, the fact is the web consumes content at a remarkable rate. Websites are launched, blogs need up-dating three times a week and somebody is going to make a million with another e-book download on making a million.
So, here are five tips that’ll improve your writing, make you more successful and help build a steady client base – the best thing a freelance web writer can ever have. They’ll also pay some bills.
1. Half the job is the headline.
Like I said, site visitors have the attention span of two-year-olds, bouncing from site to site based on this or that whim.
To catch a surfer’s attention, create a big, honkin’ headline that intrigues or informs or at least makes the attention-deprived web user stick around to read a little more about the site.
2. The three things that all readers will read about.
Personal health, family and money.
These topics are read more than any other in the 3-D world of print and on the W3. If you can work the headline to fit one of these three categories, the information is more likely to get read.
Which would you read?
Swine Flu Cure a Distant Objective (yawn)
Five Tips to Protect Your Family From Swine Flu NOW!
That’s a grabber.
3. Stop selling.
A sell, or the performance of the most desired action (MDA), is the objective of the site owner. It’s not the objective of the site visitor.
Develop content that educates. This will more naturally lead the site visitor to perform the MDA. Hype doesn’t sell. Facts sell. Benefits sell. Frame your copy in terms of what’s best for the site visitor, NOT the client with the checkbook. (This may require a little diplomacy on your part but it is in your client’s best interests to meet the best interests of his or her clients.)
4. Write at an 8th grade reading level.
The military standard (take it from someone who’s written for the military).
This is sometimes hard to do when the words are flowing like effervescent champers (bubbly
) but you don’t have to dumb it down. Just keep it simple, use simpler words and avoid big blocks of text. Web surfers scan; they rarely read. Champagne
Consider your own web use habits. You’re a typical web user. What keeps you on a page?
5. Keep it short.
It’s the attention span thing, again. The web is like a carnival midway – lots of bright, shiny colors, noise, hustle and bustle. So, keep your writing short and on point.
A blog post should run between 600 and 1200 words – no longer, that’s a fact. An article on small cap investing might be worthy of a 250-page book but your job is to cut to the chase, and cut that 250 pages down to 1,000 words.
These simple tips pay my bills (sometimes), and they can help pay yours whether you’re working in your favorite fuzzy slippers at home, or wearing a $2K suit in a large ad agency.
Follow these simple tips and improve your web writing and your clients’ conversion ratios.