You might not have realized, but when a person looks at a website, they’re not reading the content in the same way as they would a book. When you read a book, your eyes move from left to right, and you read every line. Someone looking at a website, on the other hand, scans the content searching for words or phrases that catch their attention.
There’s a valid reason for scanning websites in this way. Generally, you’re looking for something specific, or you need to find the answer to a question quickly. And let’s face it, who’s got the time to read every online post from top to bottom?
A study was conducted a few years ago by the Neilsen Norman Group. Their findings still ring true today. To put the results in a nutshell: 79% of website readers only ever scan a page they come across, and only 16% read every word.
Such figures make the task of copywriting very challenging. What can you do to make your content user-friendly? Is there a way text can be formatted to make it more attractive? How can you make your writing stand out?
Here are 7 copywriting best practices you should consider adopting.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you put pen to paper or your fingers on the keyboard, you first have to know the target audience. If you want to attract 20-something’s you’re not going to write the same as when your audience is over 60.
2. Use Well-Written Headings, and Lots of Them
If you want visitors to visit a website and read your copy, you’ve got to grab their attention with both hands. Readers ignore wishy-washy headlines. A study conducted by the Media Insight Project found that 41% of Americans never read, heard, or watched any news stories past the initial headline.
You need to use headlines that are clear, direct, to the point, and capture the visitor’s attention.
3. Make Use of Bullet Points
Bullet points are an excellent way of condensing important information into short, readable bites. A bulleted list allows the reader to understand and store the information quickly.
4. Paragraphs Need to be Short
Your readers are going to be unimpressed by paragraphs that are longer than a few sentences. Long sections are difficult to scan. If you’ve got a tendency to write long paragraphs, look for places where you can break them up. There are bound to be one, two, or even three spots from which to choose.
5. Use Internal and External Linking
While internal and external linking is popular with Google, it also improves the customer experience. Internal links provide them with the opportunity to find out more about a business. External links help the reader find out more about a topic without having to look for the information themselves. Links should be mostly internal. Also, bear in mind that you’ll be penalized by Google if there are too many of either.
6. Use the Word “You” More Often
When writing copy, you can attract their attention by talking about them rather than yourself. Use the word “you” in your text, and the reader’s ears automatically prick up. Certain words stimulate a reader’s emotions, for example:
Consumers tend to gravitate towards content that is speaking directly to them. Humans like to feel special, connected, and included. Make your writing more personal, relatable, and conversational. It’s what the reader wants to see.
7. Stop Fluffing – There’s no Bigger Turn Off for the Reader
Try this suggestion out for size. Remove half of the words on a page and then get rid of 50% more. What’s left is going to be succinct and concise. Remove the fluff from your copy, and not only are you reducing the length, you’re also making what you write easier to scan.
If you’re struggling to remove the fluff, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it necessary?
- Does it provide value?
- Is it relevant to the point you’re trying to make?
If you can answer in the negative, get rid of your fluff.
One final tip is to avoid being negative whenever possible. This is particularly crucial if you’re aiming to create a tone for a brand. If you create a positive vibe for the reader, they’re more likely to trust your brand and believe you can provide the best solution for their problem.
Creating the best copy is an art form, however, it’s something you can hone, with a little practice.