How to be a big deal on the internet – Part 3August 16, 2016
How to write in the right tone for your online businessOctober 6, 2016
Is there anything worse than a website that waffles on so much about how great they are but forgets to actually attract customers?
Writing copy for your website can sometimes be an afterthought. We get excited about the design, the images, the colours and the fonts, and forget that a good website rests on the quality of the content. Without good copy, your search marketing and SEO is going to tank. But even more importantly, your visitors are not going to know what you’re on about or have any level on interest in what you’ve got to say.
The other challenge is writing to-the-point copy that covers all bases, clearly, in a good tone without being full of waffle. Here’s some quick tricks to help refine your web copy and end the waffle.
1. Consider a full rewrite
If you’re going through a website update and redesign, don’t forget to look at your copy. If the last time you updated your website was 4 or 5 years ago, your copy is probably in desperate need of a rewrite for two reasons:
- Accuracy: a lot can change in your business in 4 years. Is everything still accurate?
- Fresh is best: Google looks kindly on new content, so keep it fresh. Just ensure your rewrite is still focused on the keywords you want to target with your site.
A full rewrite can be a big job, but don’t despair, you’ve already got the bones of what you want to say ready to go from your old website, use that as a starting point.
2. Check for ridiculously long sentences
If you’re prone to long sentences, split them in two. Long sentences increase reading difficulty and especially in a web format, you can lose your visitor’s attention. Keep sentences short and snappy to keep your readers engaged.
3. Spelling and Grammar Check is Your Friend
Your spell checker is your friend, but don’t just leave it on auto, go into your spell check and properly check through all the flagged words and any grammatical problems. This might inspire a sentence restructure or two that could improve your sentence slow no end!
4. The Thesaurus is Your Friend Too
Using the same word over and over again in a paragraph or on the same page detracts from your message. If you’re describing a product as “state-of-the-art”, use it once. Don’t use it in each paragraph or in every other sentence. On “state-of-the-art”, MS Word’s Thesaurus tells me I could substitute words like advanced, hi-tech, contemporary, ultramodern, up-to-the-minute, etc. These are great ways to make your explanations sound more interesting.
Importantly, don’t go crazy with big words that go over your reader’s heads. You don’t get extra points for using fancy-schmancy words. You don’t want to sound like you actually used a Thesaurus, just try to keep it conversational. Use words you might come across in everyday conversations.
5. Read it Out Loud
Pick up on the areas that need refining by reading it aloud to yourself or another person. You’ll naturally vocally trip over bad punctuation, furry sections and it will be obvious where you’re too detailed or not detailed enough.
6. Edit Ruthlessly
Don’t get too attached to your words because they should be edited ruthlessly!
Cull! Delete! Put your paragraphs in another order, it might flow all the better for it.
Better still, give your writing to a friend or colleague to go over your words with a fine-toothed comb. Ask them to be brutal, and try not to cry when they hate your most treasured sentence.
The object here is to get your message across as clearly as you can, in a few words as you can (sans waffle) and with all the style of the wordsmith that you are (but only after a ruthless editing!)
(BONUS) 7. Engage a Copywriter
If you truly feel out of your depth or are just completely time poor, engage a copywriter. You give them parameters, reference material, etc and they come back to you with stunning copywriting that makes your content sing!