We’ve previously posted about how important images are on your website, whether you’re selling home-made cupcakes or pet grooming services. You have a very short time in which to grab people’s attentions when they’ve landed on your website, and images make a big impression. Once you’ve lured them in with photos of your beautiful cupcakes, you still want them to buy the cupcakes or visit your cupcake bakery. This is where your copy comes in.

You don’t have to be a copywriter to write decent web copy – just follow some basic guidelines and remember to keep it simple and short wherever possible. Here are some pointers on how to write better web copy.

Where, what, when, why and how

Stick to the journalist’s rule of introducing the key concepts of where, what, when, why and how whenever you write web copy. Obviously, not all of these concepts will be relevant for everything you write, but keeping them in mind will help you make sure that you’re covering everything people need to know. Often I land on a website, say for a hotel, and I have to scroll down the page or navigate through several pages just to find out the pertinent information about the place – where it is, what kind of luxury level etc. This leads us onto the next point.

Cover the most important information first

You want to tell people how wonderful your product is, and how many people love using it and how it’s changed Joe Soap’s life. This is the background information on your product, rather than the most pertinent facts. Cover the most important stuff first – what your product is, what it does, how much it is and where you can get it from – and then move onto cover the other less-important details.

Learn the basics of SEO

You don’t need to be an SEO expert (or hire one) in order to create SEO-friendly copy. The basics principles of SEO are pretty straightforward and easy to incorporate into your writing. Moz.com has a great beginner’s guide here and there’s another good SEO copywriting resource here.

Use a voice consistent with your brand

If you’re selling life insurance, you probably won’t want to use slang terms or exclamation marks in the copy on your website. You will likely want to be using fairly formal and serious tone and language. If, however, you own a fun frozen yoghurt company aimed at a young demographic, you’ll need to tailor your use of language and tone to suit your market – so more informal words and colloquial phrases can be used. Have a good idea of what your brand represents and who your target market is before you start on your copy.

Optimise for scanning

Most people don’t read all the text on a website – we’ve taught ourselves to be very good at scanning things online, to get the information we need in the shortest possible time. Keep this in mind when writing web copy. Use clear, concise headlines, sub-headings to summarise and bullet lists to sum up important points.