Writing for the web

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Hot Topic: Find your on-line voice Web copy must be friendly to search engines AND to human visitors! Your website’s primary objective is to communicate effectively with your target audience. For this, you need a “Voice”.

1. Tone of voice.  Write as if you are speaking to a typical member of your target audience.  A website selling luxury cars will have a radically different tone from a site advertising body piercing services, or a site offering gardening tips! Vocabulary, grammar, the brevity or expansiveness of your text – all should be appropriate to those visitors whom you want to attract.

For example, a charity website may have many readers:

  • serious corporate players
  • reflective individuals
  • the appealing fundraiser
  • the factual news reporter
  • events organisers

In this case a charity should:

2. Speak to those giving.  Make it readily apparent what visitors stand to gain from giving to the charity. Be emotive. Explain how to get from A to B in Payroll Giving or Fundraising quickly. Address their needs and wants; don’t bore them with dull detail upfront.

Write using “YOU” instead of “US”.  Everyone wants to know “what’s in for me?”

3. Be upbeat. Don’t bore donors to death with news of form filling and red tape. Your readers are already at your site; now give them reasons to remain and GIVE.  Offer objective information that fosters credibility and that is of real service to your visitors.

If there is scope to add heavy-weight information do so, but don’t place it on the top level of the website – make it 2nd or 3rd tier.

4. Be concise. This does not necessarily mean, “Be brief”. Lengthy, persuasive content can be valuable for some involved readers. Avoid repetition. Avoid passive sentences: “View this!” (an active verb) is better than “you might like to see” (passive). Web sales are driven by imperatives encouraging people to DO things NOW.

Act … Buy … Read … Try … Unlock … Attend …

The passive voice has no part in web selling. Attracting sales via web content is very different from crafting editorial. Don’t mix and match! Web writers bring different skills to a project, so pick their brains.

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