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How to Write Good Copy for your Website: A Complete Guide

Do you want to know how to write good copy for your website?

Don’t worry, it’s really not all that hard but it will improve your conversion rates, dwell time and improve your ROI from your digital marketing.

Telling tales

  1. Let’s start at the beginning: does this web development story sound familiar?
  • You agonized over the design of your website
  • You pondered over the product pages
  • You searched high and low for the perfect images
  • You discussed endlessly your digital marketing strategy to drive visitors to your site
  • You pencilled in plenty of budget for PPC

And then your developer calls. It’s time to start ditching the ‘Lorem ipsum’ and populate your site with real copy.

A moment of panicked silence is followed by you dropping the phone and frantically scrabbling around for all the marketing materials you can lay your hands on to purloin phrases and pinch paragraphs from.

Web copy converts

Copy converts. It’s a powerful tool not an afterthought.

What did we think our visitors were going to do when they got to our site: imbue our messages by osmosis and convert into customers by alchemy?

Writing great web copy is absolutely central to your web marketing strategy.

And the truth is that producing effective copy for the web will not happen by cutting and pasting catalogues, sales flyers and corporate brochures.

The good news is it’s easy

The good news is that writing great copy for the web is quite straightforward, and you can learn all you need to know in what follows.

The sad fact is that there are far too many businesses out there that simply don’t create compelling or even readable copy. And there are just as many whose copy fails simply because it has written as if the web were a book or a magazine.

Writing great copy is one thing. Writing great web copy is another thing entirely.

So, let’s show you how easy it is to do it, and you need never run round the office in a blind panic again.

First things first

The web is not a place for flowery, circuitous introductory paragraphs. If you have something to say, say it first (preferably in bold).

Think of a pyramid. It’s wide at its base until it narrows to a focussed point. People like a well laid out check out area on a site according to Saphirea but it’s the copy that does a large amount of the persusasive selling

Now turn it on its head. Its point comes first and everything else builds out from this.

This inverted pyramid is how you write for the web. You don’t beat about the bush to get to your point (or key takeaway, marketing message, USP etc.). You beat all the bushes away till there is just this: and then you say it clearly. Straight away.

This tactic is not unique to the web. It’s used by journalists too who always make sure that in their first couple of paragraphs the whole story can be found.

This tactic, though, is especially true for the web. People don’t read web pages: they scan them. Study after study has proved this to be the case.

When we scan we quickly check the top and then let our eye take in what we consider the most important parts of what follows: we do not often read all of the text.

Because people are going to scan your copy you need to make sure they can get the important information and key messages upfront, or they will get lost in the mix.

When people can’t find exactly what they want straight away they vote with their clicks and your bounce rate notches up.

And first things last

Whether you are writing a blog post or a product description it’s still a great idea to wrap things up in a summary at the end of the article. (This is particularly true for longer articles/descriptions).

You could do this using bullet points, with a feature box detailing the main points or in your closing paragraphs.

The scanning eye does not take everything in. There is a good chance it may have missed what is a crucial point when it reaches the end of your page.

By summarising your key points (and maybe even including a link back to where they appeared on the page) you can ensure that people can play catch up on what they have sped past.

Heading in the right direction?

The headline you use is critical in engaging attention. It is also critical for your SEO. Get it right and you have won half the battle. Get it wrong and you have lost the war.

Here’s Brian Clark of Copyblogger on the importance of headline:

“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline.”
(‘Don’t read this or the kitty gets it’ in Copywriting 101)

That’s how important it is.

There isn’t space here to give you a masterclass on crafting the perfect heading, but you can find plenty of tips and tricks in the Copywriting 101 eBook that can be downloaded free at the link above.

(Is it worth it? Is the opportunity to engage 80% of your visitors worth it?)

Here are some quick pointers:

  • Make sure your most important keywords are here:
    just think about what your audience might be searching for
  • Adjectives create interest:
    change ‘Car cleaning guide’ to ‘The modern guide to cleaning and protecting your car’
  • Get them interested: change ‘Car cleaning guide’ to ‘Are you wiping £s off your car’s value every time you clean it?’
  • If social sharing of your content is important to you try to keep your headlines under 65 characters.


Write for the scan

There are a number of other things you can do to cater for the scanning eye, but first let’s see it in action.

Typically we scan in an F-pattern:

  • We focus on a couple of sentences at the top of the page
  • Our eye trails down the left side
  • We also quickly glance at a few lines near the middle

Examples of the F pattern found on a corporate About Us page, a product page and a search engine results page (source: Nielsen Norman Group)

Look at how the product page (centre) and the search engine results page (right) are structured with broken up text that aids the scan.

Now look at the corporate About Us page (left), where the large chunks of unbroken text, simply leaves large sections left unread.

So what tricks can you use to encourage the scan?

  • Short paragraphs
  • Clear subheadings
  • Using formatting (like bold, font size or bullet points)
  • Careful use of images

These all, however, allow you to do the same thing: break your text up and divide it into short, clear sections.


Paragraphs in books and those on web pages are very different beasts.

This is not a paragraph for the web:

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

But this is:

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry.

It has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

This dummy text has even survived the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged, and even desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker now includes versions of Lorem Ipsum.

See the difference?

On the web a sentence can be a paragraph.

Huge chunks of text are like a brick wall to the scanning eye. Text that is broken up helps it do its thing (and forces you to use concise language and simpler sentences).


Subheadings are simply another way to help the scanning eye find what it wants.

Just as a book is divided into chapters you should divide your web pages into subsections that signpost the different points you are making.

And, of course, if you are using heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>) you will be doing both the scanning eye and your SEO a favour too.

Bullet points and numbered lists

Another way to break up your text is with lists.

Why do bullet points and numbered lists help?

The bullet point or numbered list creates natural breaks in your copy, tends to be short and punchy – which is perfect for inviting a quick scan and they add variety to your layout.

Let me try that again:

Why do bullet points and numbered lists help?

  • They create natural breaks in your copy
  • They tend to be short and punchy – perfect for inviting a quick scan
  • They add variety to your layout

See what I mean?

Keep it simple

It’s important you know your audience. This will affect the sort of content you provide and the language that you use.

Accessibility is the cornerstone of the web. For most businesses it is advisable that they keep their language simple. If you are writing above your audience you will quickly lose them according to here.

Writing simply is not easy. You have to learn to do it.

  • Keep your sentences short: it keeps them simple
  • Strip out technical language and jargon
  • Avoid complicated explanations or break them down into steps
  • If you are writing for a niche: use their language
  • If you are writing for a broad audience: avoid niche terms like the plague

To write simply you are going to need to forget everything they taught you in school. If you find it hard, write how you usually write, and then rewrite for the web.

Be careful where you add personality

Adding personality can bring blogs to life but it can also alienate a customer nearing a buying decision on a money page.

This comes down to brand identity. If your marketing copy has a tone of voice and personality you need to reflect this in your web copy. If it doesn’t: don’t add it.

A bit of personality on your blog posts and other content can really help to bring it to life and gain shares.

Be liberal with your links

Links to other web pages on your site are critical to its success. They are important for your visitors and your SEO.

The eye scans because it is looking quickly for important and relevant information. A link helps the eye realise there may be more relevant information on another page and it helps your visitor to get straight to it.

Links also help you keep things concise. If you go into something in more detail elsewhere there is no need to do so again every time it is mentioned.

Links also let you include a summary at the top of every page with ‘anchors’ to places on the page where this section can be found. How handy is that?

Finally links encourage the search engine spiders to crawl your entire site, leaving no page unturned.

It’s time to put it all into practice

So there you have it: a simple guide to writing great web copy.

There really are no more excuses for taking that corporate brochure and plonking it on the web.

Here are the main things you should make sure you do with your web copy:

  1. Whenever you write say the important things first
  2. If it’s been a long page summarise it at the bottom
  3. Your heading must work for SEO and draw your readers in
  4. Break your text up using short paragraphs, subheadings and formatting
  5. Write simply and avoid jargon
  6. A bit of personality can win the day or lose the visitor – use it carefully
  7. Keep everything clearly linked in

Easy, huh?

Of course, the truth is that this is how the best copy is structured.

Writing copy that persuades and inspires action is another story altogether. And it’s a tale that ends in conversion.

You can find some helpful pointers in this web copywriting guide. But for now you should be happy: you are well on the way to crafting copy that is designed for the web.

And you’ll see immediate results.

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