It’s late, you’re sat scratching your head, laptop open. All the urgent jobs that pay the bills are done, so you start thinking about sorting what you’ve written on your website. You’re not happy with it but creativity is running thin, and you just want it done!
So here are 5 quick fixes to make the copy on your website work harder. You don’t need to be creative, you don’t have to be inspired, just a little more ruthless and methodical.
1. Sort your opening paragraph
This is the most important part of your page, the first bit your visitors are going to see. If you don’t make a good impression, they’re off!
There are many ways you can start your pages, depending on things like your brand, industry, style and tone of voice. But if you’re a bit stuck on what will work best, a simple structure could be something like this:
- State a fact about a problem. What’s the problem that brings your audience to you, something they can’t disagree with? This creates empathy and shows you understand their problem.
- Make it clear what you do. They need to know the core of what you do. Think of it as an elevator pitch where you’re only going up one floor!
- Say what you do and give the benefit. Don’t imply the benefit, or allow your audience to figure it out for themselves. Tell them. Do you save them time, effort, money, what?
You’ve now created a connection with your audience and the benefit reinforces their decision to visit your site. You can now talk about what you have to offer and the benefits you bring in the next paragraphs.
Want it to be even more minimal? Just do number 2 and 3. As long as it’s clear what you do and the main benefit you offer, it’s a good start.
2. Keep paragraphs short
Nobody likes reading big blocks of copy. So paragraphs should be kept under 60 words. Too much information makes it harder to process the message you’re trying to create.
Also, keep paragraphs on one topic where possible. This helps with making it easy for people to skim and scan for the relevant information.
So if it’s a short message, make it a short paragraph. If it’s a long message, make it a short one!
3. Keep sentences short
Aim to keep your sentences no longer than 20 words in general. Long sentences are harder to read, especially on a computer screen when it strains your eyes more. The longer your sentences, the more chance there is of diluting your message.
Also, think about your target audience and how they’re accessing your web pages. People consume more information on-the-fly now than ever before, which makes it harder for people to follow the thread long-winded sentences.
In fact, it’s widely thought that mobile access will overtake static internet access by the end of 2014. So any more than 30 words and you definitely need to chop it down a bit.
4. Use sub-headings
Sub-headings headings are a great idea because they help signpost your audience to the right content. It means that visitors don’t have to read all of your copy. Instead, they can skim and scan to the bits they feel are relevant.
You might also consider using bold or different colours to make certain words stand out, again helping make your copy easy to skim and scan. But don’t overdo it.
Sub-headings are also a indicator for the likes of Google, so use a heading with one of your keywords in it.
5. Use a clear call to action
It’s scary how many people don’t tell their visitors what they want them to do. If you don’t call, nobody will respond!
Typically a call to action will go at the end, once you’ve built value and reinforced the benefits of your product or service. But don’t be afraid to put a call to action in at the beginning, maybe after the first couple of short paragraphs.
This makes it easy for your visitors to take the action they may want to take straight away. They don’t then have to look for the call of action near the end and scroll to the bottom.
Again don’t imply that your audience should take some action. Tell them what action it is you want them to take. Whether it’s a phonecall, download a free ebook, send an email, attend an event, tell them!
6. Give it length
Don’t assume that nobody will read your copy and you don’t need more than a sentence or so. If it’s worth reading, people will read it.
Not everyone will read all of it, but most people will read some of it.
So as I mentioned a moment ago, if you make your copy easy to skim and scan, it adds value to a wider range of people.
Google recommends each page be a minimum of 300 words long for it to rank well. But don’t let that bog you down. 150 words of quality is better than 300 words of fluff.
Now get it done!
Be ruthless and methodical with what you’re trying to achieve here. We’re not talking about trying to create an inspirational piece of copy.
We’re talking about getting a good job done quickly.
So take each point one-by-one and apply it to your pages. Be ruthless and try to stick to the rules and you’ll start to see how you can write really concise copy.
Think of it a bit like Twitter, just on a bigger scale. You’ve only got 140 characters to get your message across on each Tweet so you have to be ruthless and methodical in order to create the best Tweets!
Good luck, and let me know how you get on.
If you need help, or you’ve scratched your head so much you’re starting to get a bald patch, give me a call on 07772 892 698.