5 Ways Not to Write Web Copy

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Write Web Copy

How do you learn to write web copy? By learning ways to not write it.

Before I started writing my blog, I looked around at other blogs. I wanted ideas on web design, social networking, and SEO strategy. But none of this really matters when I didn’t want to read their blog post.

What were these web content writers doing wrong? Usually these 5 things:

Exclamation Points!!!

This web copy is very exciting!!! This title is so important!!! Exclamation points deter readers rather than encourage them to read on—and using more than one exclamation point looks amateur. There’s a place for exclamation points, but not after every sentence. Are you using one or more exclamation point every five sentences? Time to use the backspace and revise.

Long Paragraphs

Reading web copy is not the same as reading, say, a book. Readers skim the content and are easily swayed away from web copy, so your writing must be concise and to the point. If you have lots to say, break it up into more, smaller paragraphs or bullet lists. Three lines are appealing to read. Readers stick around for four lines. Five lines? This is when the reader gets bored, antsy, or their eyes hurt, so anything you stay after the fifth line probably won’t be read. Are you still reading this paragraph? Why are you still reading this paragraph? I already stated what needed to be said. Everything else I write here is only to meet word count and make me look smart. Move on to the next point. I’m confident that there’s valuable information there.

Big Vocabulary

People don’t want to read web copy for a vocabulary lesson.  You may look smart, but will readers stay? Using business lingo in your particular field and common buzzwords are fine. It’s when you write longer words that can easily be substituted for a smaller word. Readers might look it up and most will just leave your webpage. Either way, don’t give your readers a reason to leave.

Writing Deceptive Titles and Headers

Is your title true to the content within the post? Readers clicked your web copy because they were hooked from the title. Don’t anger or disappoint readers with titles and headers that don’t answer the question or match the words below. You gain credibility as a web content writer with honest lead-ins. Readers remember and come back again.

Italics and Underlining

See how hard this is to read?  Don’t you want to click on this? Italics and underlining are a common way to format titles and foreign words—except for web copy. Use bold instead, or leave out the fancy font shift altogether. Readers won’t report you to your grammar teacher.

There are definitely more than 5 ways not to write web copy. What are your web copy pet peeves as a reader? Share them below.

6 thoughts on “5 Ways Not to Write Web Copy

  1. Excellent post. As I’ve noted on my own blog, one of the biggest problems with boring Web copy is The Big Wind Up. That is, starting a blog post, blurb, or marketing piece as if it is a college paper with a thesis statement.

    “In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of plucking a dead chicken’s feathers before you cook it, as getting the smell of melted feathers from your often can be very difficult. Today, I am going to follow up on that point and talk about the critical importance of 1.) removing the head, and, 2.) making sure it does not fall in the batter, since you might accidentally serve it to your guests, thus causing embarrassment to all parties…”

    A polite message to those who write wind-up paragraphs: Get to the [bleeping] point.

    • I agree! College essays and blog posts are two different genres, not to mention different mediums and different audiences. Your example is spot on – and needs a serious bullets and linking makeover!

      Who are we kidding? It needs more than that.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

    • That’s another great point. I recently came across examples of that this week on other blogs (I will spare names). It’s misleading and readers tend to click away out of frustration and disappointment.

      Understand the online medium and culture, then publish your content. That’s my advice to these non-linking writers.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

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