9 Rules for Writing Great Web Copy
  • 6-minute read
  • 15th February 2023

9 Rules for Writing Great Web Copy

Creating great web copy is an art that requires a lot of skill, knowledge, and research. But it’s not impossible! In this article, you’ll find nine rules for writing high-quality copy that people want to read and that ranks high in search engine result pages. 

Here’s an overview: 

  1. Know your audience 
  2. Cater to your audience 
  3. Do your research 
  4. Use your target audience’s language 
  5. Identify your brand voice 
  6. Create skimmable copy 
  7. Effectively use keywords and SEO 
  8. Create a style guide 
  9. Edit your web copy

1. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is the first and most important step in writing, well, just about anything. But you have to go beyond basic demographics. Knowing your audience on a deeper level allows you to create buyer personas. Does your target audience own pets? Do they have particular hobbies? Do they visit certain websites? These are the sorts of key questions to ask yourself to better understand who your audience is.

2. Cater to Your Audience

Once you know who your audience is, create web copy that serves them. Writing for the sake of writing or simply saying “we’re the best company – buy our products because they’re the best” isn’t going to keep your audience engaged for very long! Instead, you need to cater to them by asking yourself some questions: 

  • Do they have a problem I can solve? 
  • Are they looking for specific information I can provide? 
  • Do they need a service that I can provide?

3. Do Your Research

Now that you know your audience and how to cater to them, make sure you do thorough research to get a full picture. For example:

  • Who are your competitors? 
  • Where are they marketing their services, knowledge, or products? 
  • What type of copy does your audience use most (e.g., emails, articles, or social media posts)? 
  • What evidence or stats can you use to support your web copy and increase your authoritative voice? 

This is also where you can fill in any gaps in your buyer personas and form a clearer picture of who your target audience is. You could also conduct interviews or send out surveys to get inside the mind of your target audience to help you create web copy that appeals directly to them.

4. Use Your Target Audience’s Language

Would you speak to your elderly neighbor using TikTok slang? Probably not because they most likely don’t use TikTok and would have no idea what you’re talking about! But if your target audience does use TikTok, you might use TikTok terms and phrases in your web copy. 

As part of your research, explore any specific aspects of language used by your target audience. Mimic speech patterns, vocabulary, and sentence structures they use regularly to appeal to and build rapport with them. This functions as a type of persuasive language strategy you can use throughout your web copy. What’s most important though, is that you communicate clearly and effectively in a simple and easy-to-understand way. Here are some things to avoid: 

  • Words that express doubt, e.g., could, would, should, and maybe 
  • Jargon that your target audience will not understand 
  • Unnecessary punctuation or abbreviations
  • The passive voice

5. Identify Your Brand Voice

What’s your brand voice? A clear brand voice reflects your brand’s personality, tone, and style in all forms of communication: emails, posts, videos, and web copy. It’s important because it allows your readers to get to know you and your business – which is also why it should reflect your target audience’s language. If they can relate to what they’re reading, they’re more likely to continue reading, interact with your business, and buy your products or services.

Having a clear brand voice is also important to ensure your web copy is consistent. For example, your company’s blog posts should maintain the same voice as your social media posts.

6. Create Skimmable Copy

Research shows that people tend not to read web pages in their entirety. At best, they usually skim or scan a page to find whatever information they’re looking for. Creating skimmable copy makes your web copy useful to readers, mobile-friendly, and more likely to show up on search engines’ top results. 

Here are some features of skimmable web copy

  • short sentences 
  • clear and simple language
  • paragraphs of no more than four sentences 
  • clear headers and subheaders 
  • bulleted or numbered lists 
  • bold and italics for emphasis
  • having the most important information upfront

7. Effectively Use Keywords and SEO

While there is lots of advice out there on how to boost your SEO, one thing’s for certain: keywords and SEO are the bread and butter of web copy. They’re what gets your web copy front and center. Be sure to research which keywords are relevant to your web copy and aim for three to four per article or post. Use keywords at the beginning of your copy to catch readers’ attention and appeal to the allusive algorithm gods.

However, if you’ve carried out thorough research and have a clear idea of your target audience’s language, then you’re already on the right path to effectively using keywords and SEO in your web copy. By default, you’ll be using the language used by your target audience, which will help direct them toward your products, information, or services.

8. Use a Style Guide

Take everything discussed in this article – your buyer personas, your target audience’s use of language, your brand voice, and creating skimmable copy – and put it all in a style guide. Style guides ensure consistency across all your copy and are a great resource for your writers and editorial team. 

A style guide should include the following: 

  • a baseline style guide e.g., AP or CMOS 
  • brand voice 
  • dialect 
  • formatting 
  • punctuation 
  • blacklisted terms 
  • examples 
  • grammar 
  • running updates 
  • triage list 

To learn more about how to create a style guide, read our full guide.

9. Edit Your Web Copy

If your business has a high volume of web copy, ensure your editorial team produces consistent, high-quality, and error-free writing with a productive editorial process. And if it’s just you editing your own writing, be sure to read it several times and have a second or even third pair of eyes scan it for you. The content may be excellent, but nobody is going to read it if it’s littered with errors or difficult-to-understand language. 

Need help editing web copy for your business? Then look no further! Here at Proofed, we’ve worked with thousands of businesses and streamlined their editing processes. Give us a call today to see how we can help you. 

Interested in reading more about how to produce high-quality web copy that stands out? Read The Ultimate Guide to Writing Great Website Copy.

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