Writing content for websites: 9 tips for more effective website copy

‘Nobody reads online content’ – a widespread claim that (unfortunately) contains some truth. Many website visitors prefer not having to read through lengthy, badly structured texts. But how exactly do these consumer habits affect you and your website content, and how can you improve your texts? We’ll show you 9 top tips for writing better website content.

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Quick guide: How to write quality content for the web

  1. Select the purpose of your website and copy
  2. Get to know your audience
  3. Answer reader queries
  4. Write precisely and in line with your topic of choice
  5. Communicate in a clear and simple manner
  6. Prepare the text in a reader-friendly way. Put the most important things first and create structure by using headings, short paragraphs, highlights, links, lists, tables, etc.
  7. Add pictures, graphics, videos, and other visual elements
  8. Compare with and be inspired by the competition
  9. Optimise your texts for search engines (SEO)

Tip 1: Determine website and copy purpose

Before you draft your first text, ask yourself what purpose it has and how it supports the website's goals. Do you want to convey expert knowledge, explain the features of a product, encourage a purchase, or simply entertain your readers? The type of website you have is also crucial, i.e. whether it’s a blog, store, or corporate platform. The distinction is important because it impacts the length, depth of information, style, and other features of your website copy.

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Tip 2: Get to know your readers

Find out who you are writing for. How old is your (primary) target group? What media do they use? What are their reading habits? What topics do they typically engage with? If your readers are young and tend to use Instagram, Snapchat and the like, you’ll write very different web copy than for audiences who regularly read newspapers and magazines and are therefore used to reading long-form content. If you aren’t sure about the target group of your blog, think about the type of content they may want to read and in what form and tone.

To narrow down your online shop’s target audience more effectively, you can define buyer personas. Who are your customers and what are their needs? How can you prepare content that advises on products to reach customers?

Understanding your audience also helps shape the tone of your content (formal or informal).

Tip 3: Answer queries

While browsing websites we often ask ourselves many questions. Website owners can take advantage of this by writing sub-headings as questions. Questions tend to be entered in search engines and web copy that answers them efficiently is ranked higher and displayed toward the top of the search results.

To find out which questions your readers may have you can use tools such as answerthepublic.com or enter relevant keywords in Google.

Remember the five Ws: who, what, when, where, why? Try to answer them at the beginning of your copy and structure text accordingly. See tip 6 for more information.

Tip 4: Take the space you need

There is a widespread rule that copy for a website should be as short as possible – precisely because web reading behaviours are supposedly such that shorter content is preferred. However, that's not entirely true. In the end, purpose and topicdetermine the length. If you write a guide on choosing the best health insurance, you will likely end up with a longer text than if you are promoting a new jeans trend. More important than length when writing website copy is relevance and information that is easy to grasp.

Tip 5: Focus on what’s necessary and important

It’s good practice to omit information that is unimportant to the overall message of your text. Sometimes we may think information that pops into our head while writing is relevant, only to find out that when we read it back, it doesn’t directly relate to the topic on-hand. You can note down such information and use it in other texts later on. It makes sense to plan out a long-term content strategy that includes a detailed plan of topics and content.

It’s also good practice to avoid filler words and phrases that simply sound good but don’t add any information. Formulate simple, precise sentences and avoid lengthy and nested ones that are passive.

Tip 6: Edit text to be more reader-friendly

Using the right structure ensures that even long texts are easy to read. Formulate short sentences and paragraphs and divide them using meaningful subheadings. Use bulleted lists, checklists, and tables and bold important passages or individual words. Use tip and link boxes to highlight cross-references or important tips.

In terms of content, aim to use the principle of the inverted pyramid, in which you work your way from the bigger picture toward the details. It makes sense to have a short introductory paragraph that highlights the topic or summarises the most important points (the 5 Ws); individual aspects are then dealt with in short paragraphs, and a conclusion follows at the end.

Tip 7: Add images

To improve the structure of your article you can add images, graphics, videos, and other visual elements that make it easier for readers to grasp information and context. For example, comparisons and explanation of features are often easier to understand when supported by images. Again, don't use an image just for the sake of using an image, but always ask yourself what purpose it serves. Sometimes new web design trends provide suggestions to simplify the presentation of your content.

Tip 8: Check out the competition

The aim here is not to plagiarise or duplicate content. Both practices would harm your web project. But you can definitely be inspired by checking out the competition. Look at the topics they cover and the length of their texts. Write website content that is a little longer or answers alternative questions.

By the way, there are tools that not only optimise keywords, but also check how your text fares against the competition: length but also type of content are examined here.

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Tip 9: Optimise content for search engines

Though your target group should always be people, it’s impossible to avoid search engine optimisation when writing website copy these days. Keywords that rank high on Google are based on the search interests of people. In the best-case scenario, you’re able to please both – your readers and search engines.

As part of your content strategy, examine what people search for on Google and what topic-related keywords are out there. These could become a source of new content ideas. If you don't have access to the Google Keyword Planner, several free keyword tools are available. Their search volumes may not always be exact, but they’ll still provide reliable ideas for keywords. During content planning, determine which text should be optimised for which keyword (and secondary keyword, if applicable) in order to cover a broad range.

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