Writing Effective Web Copy

There are many different ways to write web copy - but if you want to write web copy that sells, impresses your clients and shows your web writing ability, you've got to do it right.

Effective web copy starts with the 4 C's.  It must be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Correct
  • Clean
There are also a few filler words you should use sparingly (see below). 

If your web copy doesn't meet these criteria, it won't reach its maximum effectiveness.

Clear web copy

You have to write your web copy clearly - it needs to be easy to read, digestible and say precisely what it needs to say.  Avoid confusing or conflicting terms, organize your web copy in a logical manner (with the point of what you're saying at the top) and write something that's understandable to four-year-olds and centenarians.

Wrong: "When talking to the PL to ask if you can leave work before COB, take all the appropriate documents and put them in the folder that you got from S1 IOT comply with regulations and make sure you are standing at the position of attention or you may face UCMJ."

Right: "Place all documents in the appropriate folder to ensure you're in compliance with regulations. 

If you wish to ask your platoon leader if you may leave before the end of the day, ensure you are standing at the position of attention to avoid punitive action."

Concise web copy

Short, sweet and to the point makes great web copy.  You can use descriptive words, but don't use too many.  You're not writing a romance novel for ladies who have time to process descriptions and want to feel what they're reading - you're writing copy for a quick-scanning web audience that varies in age, lifestyle and gender.

Wrong: "Angie wrote beautifully effusive web copy for her distinguished client, who was a prominent and respected attorney in the state of Mississippi."

Right: "Angie wrote effusive web copy for her client, a prominent Mississippi attorney."

Correct web copy

You can never misrepresent or grossly exaggerate a product or service in web copy.  Readers will realize something has been misrepresented and it will cost you (and your client) business.

Wrong: "We attend to every detail and guarantee we won't miss a thing when we cater your wedding.  Every person who has ever worked with us has been 100% satisfied."

Right: "We strive to provide service that exceeds your expectations, and we've worked hard to earn our sterling reputation.  Please read through our client testimonials to find out what other people are saying about our catering service."

Clean web copy

Clean web copy is free of spelling and grammatical errors, and it's punctuated appropriately.  Even if the people reading your web copy aren't English majors, you can't let anything slip by - you never know who's reading; worse, you never know if there ARE English majors reading your web copy!

Wrong: "She recieved her posessions, but, she couldn't keep track of anything that she was responsible for."

Right: "She received her possessions; however, she couldn't keep track of them."

Filler words

If you can avoid using the words:
  • that
  • which
  • on
  • very
you should!

According to AP style, these words only belong when absolutely necessary to convey a point.  To write effective web copy, keep your sentences simple and readable.

Wrong: "She wrote web copy which made sense to readers that wanted to learn more about writing effective web copy on April 28, and she was very detailed with her descriptions."

Right: "She wrote a post detailing what makes web copy effective April 28."

These are just basics - but you do need to try to stick to the 4 C's if you want to write effective web copy your clients will love.

Do you have any tips on writing effective web copy?  What do your clients love about your writing?  Please share your comments below; feel free to link to your own blog or website!