Did you know that users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at a website’s written content? You need to make every word count to get the most out of those five seconds – and if you get it right, you might even keep them reading for longer!
Whether you’re feeling stumped about where to start writing your copy, or have a sneaky suspicion that your current copy could do with a little spruce up, you’ll find some helpful top tips in this guide!
#1. Write For Your Target Audience
You’ll hear about your target audience a lot when building a website, setting up a business or blog, or even choosing your color scheme. Your target audience influences most of the decisions you make for your WordPress website – and that includes your copy.
- Who am I writing for?
- What sort of language do they use?
- What experiences will my audience relate to?
- Am I using language that might seem alien to my audience?
- What problems or pain points might my audience have?
Questions like these will help you put yourself in your audience’s shoes and figure out what sort of tone to use in your writing. For example, if you’re writing about healthcare for an older audience, you might want to use a more formal, yet reassuring tone.
If you’re writing for a young audience about your love of books, however, you can afford to be more free and fun with your language, in order to connect with your readers. It’s all about finding a voice that feels authentic to you, and relatable for your readers.
#2. Keep It Simple
Unlike when writing college essays, where you had to show off your complex sentence structure, when writing for the web you want to keep things short and snappy. Why? Well, it makes your content easier to read if it’s in bite-size chunks.
There’s no hard and fast rule for just how short your sentences and paragraphs need to be, but try to make paragraphs around three lines long, and sentences around 20 words if possible.
Mix up sentence lengths to keep readers engaged, and don’t be afraid of one-word questions, or starting sentences with “And” or “But” if it helps break up your text. If it suits your tone, writing in a conversational way that directly addresses the reader is a great way of catching and holding attention.
Use clear, concise, simple language – your visitors don’t want to be Googling word definitions every five minutes, after all. In fact, it might come as a surprise that you should aim to use language that a 14-year-old can understand across your website!
Avoid jargon at all costs, and if you have to use it, make sure you explain it quickly and clearly.
#3. Structure Your Copy
Headings are vital for writing better copy for your WordPress website. Not only does it help the reader navigate your content and quickly find relevant information, but it’s also important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
First off, headings stand out to the reader straight away because they’re usually big and bold, and summarize the content below. This makes it easy to find what you’re looking for if you’re in a hurry (which, let’s face it, most people are – especially on the internet!)
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the rest. That means your content is relying on a great headline to get readers interested. Think of your headline like a front door – if it looks bright and shiny and promises exciting things inside, you’re more likely to step through it than if the door is flaky, dry, and drab.
Once inside the door, you guide readers with headings all the way down the page. This avoids the horror a reader feels when presented with a wall of unbroken copy on a webpage. Yes, we read books with pages and pages of text, but in the digital world this a huge no-no.
Headings structure your copy, and make it more readable – both for human visitors and Google bots crawling your page. That’s right – headings are great for SEO because they show that the page is well laid out, acting as signposts throughout your copy.
Google loves readability, so headings are the perfect way to easily boost your SEO.
#4. Use Keywords
Keywords may go largely unnoticed by your readers, but they play a huge part in getting your WordPress content found in search results.
You don’t want to stuff your copy full of keywords, to the point where it makes it difficult to read. But you also want to avoid totally leaving out relevant keywords, because then Google won’t know how to rank your page in its search results.
You’ll probably find that you’re putting in keywords naturally, just by picking a topic and writing about it. For example, if you’re writing about the best cookbooks for beginners, you’ll probably mention that term a few times in your copy anyway.
By picking a keyword (or a few) and making a list, and by carrying out keyword research, you can boost your SEO by using them in headings and metadata, to help readers find your awesome content.
It’s a good idea to install the Yoast SEO plugin, which helps you write SEO friendly content and set keywords for it. There are tons of tips for WordPress beginners out there, and installing the Yoast SEO plugin usually pops up as one of the first things you should do when setting up your WordPress site.
What many don’t realize, though, is that this plugin doesn’t just benefit your SEO, but also your copywriting. For example, it tells you when you need to include more keywords, and even generates a meta title for you based on your post’s heading.
#5. Make Life Easy For Your Readers
Readers are likely to only read about 28% of the words on your webpage, and even then, 20% is a more realistic figure for most people. Attention spans are shorter, people are busier and more distracted than ever, and we simply don’t have the patience to comb through dense or difficult copy.
To put it simply, you need to make life as easy as possible for your readers if you want them to keep reading. Here are the main ways you can do this.
1. Front-load Information
Okay, so people stop paying attention pretty quickly online. How can you combat this, so that they still get the key takeaway from your content? By putting the most important information first!
By giving readers the most important information at the beginning of your content, near the top of the page, you’re maximizing the chances of that information getting seen. This gives the reader instant gratification, because they’ve found what they’re looking for, and delivers your main message straight away.
You can then place a hook to try and keep the reader engaged. For example, if you’re writing a book review, you might list the important details:
- Name of book
- Your star rating
- Would you recommend it?
But then the reader has to keep going to find out why you gave it that rating, and why you said “I wouldn’t recommend this book if you gave me a million dollars” – you need to pack a juicy hook alongside your key information to draw the reader’s attention further down the page!
2. Use Active, Not Passive, Language
This is a nifty writing trick used by copywriters all over the web, and once you know it, you’ll start noticing it everywhere. This is a powerful but subtle tactic – use active language.
This is an active sentence: “The cat sat on the mat.”
And this is a passive sentence: “The mat was sat on by the cat.”
The first sentence sounds so much better, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s active, which in turn makes it easier to read. Active sentences have more energy and momentum, whereas passive sentences take more effort to read and can drag if used too much.
3. Use Bold, Visuals, and White Space
Other ways to make your writing easier to read is to put important details in bold, as this catches attention and makes content easier to scan quickly. Don’t go overboard with the bold, though, or it can become overwhelming and have the opposite effect!
Making good use of images also helps to break up chunks of text, add context, and help less keen readers navigate your copy. Human brains process images a lot faster than they do text, so adding images is a great way to give readers’ brains a little break in long pieces of copy.
White space is the empty space surrounding everything on your webpage, from images to buttons to paragraphs and beyond. Using more white space gives your pages a cleaner, more minimal look, and can help to make text look more digestible.
Check out the examples below – which would you rather see when you open up a webpage?
#6. Proof-Read Your Copy Carefully
Okay, this one is a little obvious, but it’s an easy one to let slip in the day-to-day running of your WordPress site. There are updates to run, and social media to manage, and you meant to publish that blog post two days ago, so you upload it and hit Publish with only a hurried read-through.
We’ve all been there, but it’s worth taking the time to sit back, make a cup of coffee, and read carefully through your copy before putting it online. Or, even better, ask someone else to read it for you.
It’s worth it, too, because 74% of web browsers pay attention to the quality of spelling and grammar on company websites. Not only that, but over half would avoid doing business because of obvious spelling mistakes on a company’s website.
Printing off your copy can sometimes be an easier way of proofing, especially if you have a trusty red pen to make edits with!
#7. Create a Style Guide
Are you expanding your team to include other writers, or maybe even guest post contributors? That’s amazing, and also means it’s time to put together a style guide, to make sure all the copy on your WordPress site stays at the awesome level you’ve set.
A style guide is a document that lays out rules and guidelines for writers to follow when writing for your blog. It can contain rules about tone, formatting, use of language, and more to help new writers quickly get to grips with creating content for your site.
#8. Install Plugins To Help
Let’s be honest – all those tips might be feeling a little overwhelming. To help you out, here’s a list of some of the best plugins for writing copy in WordPress, to make your life easier and your content even better!
- WProofreader – This automatically checks spelling and grammar in multiple languages, underlining any errors while you type.
- Editorial Calendar – If you’re managing a team, Editorial Calendar helps you run your blog’s publishing schedule, view deadlines, and plan ahead.
- Just Writing – Need help staying focused while you write? This plugin takes Distraction Free Writing Mode and adds extra functions such as copying, spell check, and paragraph formatting.
Ready to Write Better Copy For Your WordPress Site?
We’ve whizzed through the eight top tips to help you boost your website’s copy and wow your reader with your dazzling prose. Writing for an online audience is very different from writing in the non-digital world, so it’s worth taking these steps to make your website copy the best it can be.
Are you ready to go forth and create stunning content for your eager readers? Better copy is waiting just on the other side of this conclusion, so we won’t hold you up – get your fingers over that keyboard and get writing!
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