Ask the Expert



Q. Our company has come to realize the importance of online content, so we are focusing on rewriting the text on our website. We already know what the content should be about, but can you give us any advice about writing for the web?

A. You're right to think that writing for the web contrasts with more traditional print writing. Needless to say, writing in any medium is complex and can take years of practice to master. Besides basic copy optimization, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid in order to make sure that your web copy is effective from a marketing standpoint.

Don't write above your audience's head: It's important that your readers understand your content. Too often, we see websites revamp their web content to include way too much industry jargon and technical language. It's an attempt to sound authoritative and impressive – but more often, it just confuses your message, obscures your call-to-action, and alienates users. Carefully consider your audience and write appropriately. Remember, it's not always experts who are looking for your services – even if you are a B2B company.

Don't hide information about your products and services: Concise writing is important for the web, but that doesn't mean your pages should have incomplete information. Giving users a little bit of information followed by "call/email us to learn more" is actually a poor conversion strategy. Users usually want to make sure that your product/service is a good fit for them before they bother reaching out to you. The Internet puts information at their fingertips. If your website copy doesn't have the information they need, they'll just seek it elsewhere.

Don't ignore your homepage: The company homepage is extremely important, but it's often devoid of copy. This is bad on two levels: users who land on the page can't immediately tell the purpose of your company, and search engines have a more difficult time establishing the theme of the page and ranking it. Use the homepage to target an important key-phrase and tell readers about the problems your products/services solve. If a reader doesn't think that your company is going to help them, they're more likely to quickly bounce off the page.

You're on the right track by planning the subject matter for your site's content. As you write, try to remember these points to ensure that your copy is clear and gives users the information that they need.

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