Web copywriting requires a careful eye to detail and word placement. Content should flow naturally and have a conversational tone. Content needs to attract attention immediately and hold that interest.
The key element that must always be kept in mind is readability. The best copywriters put their readers first, search engines second. Here are our basic guidelines:
- Headlines and sub headlines should be interesting and relevant to the content to follow. The headings should have an average of 45-64 characters each, up to a maximum of 70, including spaces and punctuation. Make headlines creative and where reasonable, include one of the keywords to draw the eye.
- Structure sentences for easy reading and skimming. Many people no longer take the time to fully read online – instead, they will scan. The idea should be quickly and clearly understood at a glance.
- Try to avoid having more than three sentences per paragraph. Ideally, a paragraph should have approximately 180-210 characters including spaces and punctuation. Avoid both lengthy and extremely short paragraphs.
- Do not use a promotional tone when writing copy. The only exception to this is when promotional material is specifically requested. When it is required, the tone should be controlled to avoid seeming full of hype or high pressure. Readers do not respond well to such copy.
- When utilizing keywords or phrases, take special care to ensure your copy reads smoothly and clearly. If a reader has to back up and re-read in order to understand the meaning, they often won’t take the time to do so.
- The Flesch Reading Ease should be controlled to ensure optimum accessibility. When writing, ask yourself if the piece sounds suitable for magazine publication. Quality content should be suitable for printing in any media form.
- We normally suggest a keyword density of no more than 2% for chosen keywords. (In order to maintain a keyword density of 2% or less, keywords would not be repeated more than 10 times per 500 word article, including title and headings.) This can be checked with a keyword density tool.
- The primary keyword/phrase should normally appear in the title of a post or article, as well as in a heading. In order to ensure that a quick glance from the reader will show him that the article is on the topic indicated in the title, it’s advisable to place the primary keyword somewhere in the first paragraph, although not essential. Avoid overuse of keywords – remember, you’re writing for the reader, not the search engines.
- Web copywriting should always be proofed carefully before submission, in order to ensure proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as readability.
- A plagiarism checker will be used to prevent duplicate content issues. Spinning is strictly forbidden. Not only is it theft of intellectual property, it is also very unprofessional. Spun content can harm a business, and it is extremely important to avoid it. Content that is created for web copy should be 100% unique and original.
- Please watch this video with Matt Cutts, Chief of Googles Web Spam Team: Do spelling and grammar matter when evaluating content and site quality?
- Also do not miss the excellent information on this topic posted on Search Engine Land: Google: Low PageRank & Bad Spelling May Go Hand-In-Hand; Panda, Too?
Final Note: It’s important to keep in mind, when you’re writing about a topic, that the words that you’re choosing to use aren’t just strings of words, but rather embody certain concepts that may contain many different aspects!
- Web Copywriting Articles by Webnauts;
- Yahoo Style Guide;
- Google’s Reading Level Filter. An insight into how Google is starting to use linguistics to understand and possibly re-rank material algorithmically;
- Web Writing Guidelines;
- Writing for the Web;
- Readability as an SEO metric.
- Google: More guidance on building high-quality sites.
By John Britsios (Webnauts), Forensic SEO & Social Semantic Web Consultant, on October 2nd 2012.
© 2012 SEO Workers, Forensic Search Engine Optimization & Social Semantic Web Consulting Company.