by Jay on Sep 17, 2008 at 10:14 AM

Writing content for your website is a hurdle many business owners resist. Understanding that you need a website is the first thing, next we have to understand that content on your website doesn't magically appear.

One of the first things you should know about your website copy is that your readers will probably not read every word; rather, they scan your content for information relevant to their search.  This can be a depressing fact for us writers who put so much time and effort into our prose, but it doesn’t have to be.

Instead, it is part of the process of writing for our audience and doing our best to help readers find information they need and find it quickly.

So here are a few tips and ideas to consider before you embark on a copywriting project or if you are rewriting underperforming content on your current website.

Website Writing Tips

  • Write in chunks and use plenty of whitespace between chunks to break up the text. This will help readers scan the content and locate keywords.
  • Speaking of keywords, you should strategically locate important keywords at the beginning of your page, paragraphs or in headings.  Write like a journalist and put important attention-grabbing information at the beginning of your article.

This is due to how readers scan the content your website. Notice these three different websites discussed on Jakob Nielson’s UseIt.com eyetracking study.  The heatmapping reveals “hot-spots” or most viewed locations on a webpage. Notice how readers scan the content reading snippets of the first paragraph, some of the second chunk, then begin to scan down the page for headings.

 Website Reading Patterns

  • Don’t be stingy with headings. Headings help readers and scanners locate information more quickly, especially if that information resides near the bottom of the article.
  • Keep your content short. Readers may be overwhelmed with a page full of paragraphs. Not only have web writing conventions moved away from a book-like format, it may be hard for some readers to read on screen.
If you have more content, just make another page.
  • Write compelling meta descriptions and title tags. Not only does this help your search engine rankings, it can entice readers to click your site on the search engine results page.
  • Proofread. Should I say more? I’m going to. Misspelled words greatly reduce your creditability.
  • Speak to your readers and write in the first or second person.


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