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How to Write Compelling Web Copy

Ernest Hemingway once said, “All you need to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” This is especially applicable to writing copy for websites. Why? Because your customers need good, reliable information that they can count on. Every sentence on your website should further this goal: to explain to the viewer how you can help them.

Want to write compelling copy for your website that engages the user? Here are five things to remember:

  1. Get to the point. Let’s face it; our attention spans are short. We like to find the right information, fast. It’s your job to cut to the chase and prevent your user from becoming distracted by long paragraphs of useless content.
  2. Focus on solving problems. The art of persuasion focuses on emotional rhetoric, or in other words, appealing to the emotions of the reader or viewer. A user is visiting your website because they have a problem they need to fix. Your product or service is what they need--they just don’t know it yet. That’s where your copy comes in.
  3. Keep it user friendly. Avoid using super-complicated industry jargon that will turn off a reader. Don’t try to jam as many high-dollar words into a paragraph as possible. If a user can’t understand your content, they’re going to move on to the next site, which is the last thing you want. You can prevent that by ensuring your authentic, clear copy speaks to the intended audience.
  4. Use voice to your advantage. Develop a brand persona and make sure your copy aligns with it. The right tone is essential in copy because it helps appeal to the user’s emotions (see number two above). If your industry is serious, don’t be flippant. If your content is whimsical, entertain the viewer by playing into that humor. Here’s an example of a UK site, Firebox, that uses voice and whimsical copy in a product description to capture the user’s interest.
  5. Optimize the copy for search engines. You want Google to be able to recognize your copy as relevant to the topic and put it in front of viewers; however, you don’t want to stuff your copy so full of keywords that you’re harming your user experience. When users search Google, they use a key phrase that describes what they’re looking for, so you want to use that phrase (or one similar) throughout your copy. Keep it to two or three times, maximum, throughout the page.

Remember to:

  • delete repetitive phrases.
  • use headings and subheadings to organize your copy.
  • arrange your paragraphs with the most important content at the top.

Use words that highlight your user’s “pain point” (a.k.a. their problem) and describe how you can help the situation. For example, use words like “eliminate” or “streamline” when targeting a problem that involves a complicated process. See below how Hello Fresh’s copy zeroes in on a common pain point (cooking dinner) and expresses how they help.


Remember to:

  • focus on what you can do to help the user.
  • speak to the user.
  • appeal to their emotions.
  • stick with your brand persona
  • maintain a consistent tone
  • appeal to their emotions.
  • research keywords for your topic (Google Keyword Planner is a great resource)
  • use keywords or key phrases sparingly
  • avoid keyword stuffing.

Remember to:

  • avoid jargon
  • be clear and concise
  • be authentic.