Anyone can write a few paragraphs in a blog, but how do you make sure that your users want to read it? Here is my advice for writing simple, engaging and informative web copy that also meets all the rules when it comes to SEO.
I am by no means a great writer, which makes writing interesting and engaging blogs each week a challenge. It’s not that I don’t have useful advice to share, it’s just putting it writing doesn’t come easily to me.
That usually means that when I start to write, I empty all that is in my head onto my computer. I then spend several hours reviewing, tweaking, rewriting and reformatting it until I get something that readers can actually decipher. (It also means the backspace key on my laptop gets a good work out.)
What I have learnt over the years is a number of tips and tricks to make my web copy more engaging. In addition, because I spend a lot of time helping business owners with their SEO, I also make sure that the copy is optimised for use on websites.
So here are my tips:
Who are you writing for?
This will dictate your style of writing and also the level of detail that you go in to. Is there an assumption of a certain level of expertise in the reader, or are they a novice that will need step by step detail?
Start with a great opener
You don’t need to go into the specifics from the outset. First set the tone and engage the user with a great opener. What you do want to do though is to get to the point early, that way you give the reader the assurance that they are reading the right article.
Write a draft, then write it again
Even the greatest writers don’t get it right the first time. While the beauty of web copy is that you can always go back and edit it, you should still try and make sure that you get it right the first time.
Use a spell check!
This is a bugbear of mine. It seems that in the world of digital copy and throw away lines we have also thrown out our accuracy. I have one news website that I read several times a day and it astounds me the number of errors I read.
One I read just yesterday had an error in the opening line! Grammarly is an awesome little tool that you can download and add to your browser to help with your writing.
Don’t make it too long
You don’t want to lose the reader before they get to the end of your article. Copy needs to be well balanced with graphics, images or video that support the message that you are writing about. Here are some more tips to use when writing:
- Keep your sentences less than 20 words and paragraphs less than 150 words.
- Avoid using a passive voice (where you put the noun before the subject in a sentence i.e. “in a sentence where you but the noun before the subject”.
- Use transition words to make sentences flow
- Make sure there is a flow to the story and a conclusion
- Reference real-life events – users engage better when they can relate to the story
Optimise your copy
Not only does the user have to be engaged, but so do the search engines robots. Here are several guidelines that will help with your SEO efforts:
Identify your primary keyword:
If you were to pick one specific set of words to describe what you are writing about what would that be? It should be very specific, and ideally a word, or string of words, that a reader may use when searching for the topic on a search engine. For example, on this article rather than my primary keyword being “How to write great Web Copy for SEO and User Engagement” I have chosen the more specific “Web Copy” as my keyword.
Once you know your keyword, then you need to use it in your article. If you are genuinely writing about the subject anyway then it is likely that the keyword will appear in your copy naturally. It should definitely appear in the first paragraph of your copy, and in at least one heading.
Note: It’s unlikely that your article will only rank for one specific keyword, it is just that you need to be thinking of what the focus of the article is when you are writing your web copy. You can include variations of the keyword, and to an extent, it is actually to be encouraged. You don’t want to ‘overstuff’ your article with the keyword as it will actually have a negative impact. The key is the balance.
Title and description:
These two elements are more specific to your SEO efforts rather than your on-page copy, but they are both very important. Both your title and your page description should include your keyword. Titles should be between 50 to 70 characters long, and descriptions should be between 120 and 160 characters long.
Don’t make it too short:
For reader engagement, you don’t want to make the article too long, but search engines also don’t want it to be too short. Aim for at least 300 words minimum.
Add internal linking:
Link to other pages on your website with related content, for example in this section of my article I may want to link to our services page which includes website SEO
Don’t duplicate your web copy:
Sometimes writer’s block can lead to taking shortcuts. Trust me, it’s not worth it. Make sure you copy it original and isn’t copied from someone else, or event from somewhere else on your site. If you want to reference that copy, then just link to it.
Add your keyword to your images:
If you are using images to illustrate what you are writing about then make sure that you give the image a title and alt text that includes your keyword.
Get it proofed
Last but by no means least, get someone else to read your copy before you post it. Get their feedback on how easy it is to read, ask them to check for spelling mistakes, and see if they can guess what the keyword for your page might be.
Voila, you’re now a modern day Shakespeare. Best of luck!
NewyMedia is a digital marketing company based in Australia. If you need help setting up website performance tracking, or if you already have the tracking set up but you need some help analysing the data, then we are here to help. You can contact us here, or sign up below to join our mailing list for more great tips and advice.