Website Copywriting 101
So you want to be a website copywriter…
The world of digital copywriting is growing. If you’re in print and looking to make the switch, here are 5 things you need to do differently to enter the world of website copywriters.
1) Forget about writing amusing headlines
If you’re coming from print, you’ll be used to having some fun with headings and titles. You may have license there to drop in a pun or witticism, with varying levels of success. An intriguing headline can also draw curious readers in.
Website copywriters don’t have that luxury. Headings online need to be clear and instantly understandable. This is for 2 reasons – firstly, online readers are scanning the page quicker than print readers, so clear signposts are needed to direct the reader. Secondly, keywords in headings are one of the best ways to get higher up in search engine results.
2) Put the important content at the beginning
Print content like newspaper articles are able to follow a traditional narrative structure – with beginnings, middles and ends.
Website copywriters have less wiggle room. The most crucial bit of information should always be put to the forefront – whether that means at the top of a paragraph or beginning of a sentence. You need to appreciate how fast people scan a website. If your reader is only taking in the first words of a sentence, what chance does your point right at the end of the page have of being seen?
3) Present it as simply as possible
It’s much easier to read a piece of paper so people are more ready to read large blocks of text.
The glare coming from a PC, laptop or handheld device cuts our reading speed dramatically. Therefore if we see a large block of text it immediately looks daunting.
Email copywriting employs bullet-points and bold text to make sections of text less hard work for the reader.
4) Don’t be afraid to end your piece
In print materials, the last line of a piece can be a place to sum up what’s been said or throw in a nice turn of phrase.
Digital copywriters say that this so-called ‘thanking of the audience’ is almost redundant online. Since very few people read through an entire page, the last line is usually lost on them – so if there’s anything of real import there, it should be higher up the page.
Crucially you need to say as little as possible online. If they’ve already made their point, good website copywriters put a full stop in and stop there.
5) Include calls-to-actions on the page
In print, readers are focused on your piece – there’s nothing they can click to move somewhere else entirely.
That’s the challenge that faces website copywriters. If your reader can shoot off at any second, you need to provide calls-to-actions on the page that can direct them around your site. It’s called multiple entries and multiple exits. This means that readers can jump into your text from lots of areas and leave it in a variety of ways.
At a minimum you ought to include a call-to-action at the top of the page and one at the end. The former is to catch people who may have come to the wrong page; the latter is to make sure your page has no dead end.