Read our simple guide on how to write well for online.

People often ask us what they should think about when writing for the web. And we tell them that to some extent good writing is good writing: it doesn’t matter whether it’s a website, a printed brochure or even a novel.

But there are some important things to bear in mind when writing for a website that make it a little different to any other medium.

Here are 5 things we think you need to think about every time your writing will be read online.

1. Think about who’ll be reading your writing

The first question to ask is who will be reading what you’ve written? How do you solve their pain points? And what are they interested in?

There’s an old writing saying: ‘show don’t tell’. We think this particularly applies when writing for the web. Show people directly how you can help them via case studies or insightful articles. Let readers then draw the inference about your expertise.

An example of what we’re talking about is the Macquarie Advisers website.

2. Think about how they’ll be reading your writing

Sure, a lot of your readers might be sitting at their desktop perusing the pages of your website on the big screen. But an equal number are likely to be visiting your site on their mobile device. And when you’re reading on mobile it’s very hard to take in big chunks of information.

So break up your copy with headlines, bullet points and white space. And do what you can to make important information stand out. After all, even desktop browsers usually do just that – browse – rather than reading every single word you write.

An example of what we’re talking about is the Goldman Sachs website.

3. Think about how your writing will get found

Chances are a great number of users who come to your site will do so organically –  via Google or another search engine. So it’s now impossible to separate good digital copywriting from good SEO practices.

Incorporate search terms that will draw your audience to your words. Use keyword planning tools such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner to make your copy more effective still.

Don’t just think of the obvious keywords you want to promote. When you try to attract readers that way you’ll be competing with a whole lot of heavy hitters with much more powerful SEO practices than yours.

Often it’s much easier to bring in users via the backdoor, by ranking higher in less searched for but more specific keywords. Use them in strategically placed articles rather than in the main copy of your website.

An example of what we’re talking about is the blog.

4. Think about what’s important

Amateur copywriters often fall into the trap of wanting to include everything that’s great about what they offer. But if you haven’t convinced someone of the merits of your product or service by listing 18 benefits, do you really think they’ll be convinced by the nineteenth?

Try thinking of the three most important ways you can help or the three main benefits you bring to your clients – stretch it to four or five if you really need to. Give the most airplay to these and make them the centrepiece of your copy.

An example of what we’re talking about is the Adviser Updates website.

5. Think about the journey as well as the destination

Finally, don’t feel as though the page you’re writing should be the end destination for your readers. Instead, make it part of a rich journey through your site.

When you write this way, you’re not just making your readers’ time on your site more useful and enjoyable, you’re also implementing every one of the four things you’ve already thought of above.

And an example of what we’re talking about is our own website.

Contact Antelope Media if your business needs help communicating through powerful web-based copywriting. 

Subscribe now to get the latest thinking on content marketing, content strategy, copywriting and communications from Antelope Media.


Read more: What can Hemingway teach us about digital writing?

Read more: What does your website say about you?

Read more: 7 reasons to write a listicle

Related services: Copywriting, Websites and digital marketing, Content marketing

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden is content director at Antelope Media.