You may be fantastic at putting pen to paper, but when you’re writing for the web things are a little bit different.  There are some basic guidelines you should keep in mind when writing web (and search engine) friendly copy.

1. Remember to Use Headings

There are two reasons for doing this.  Headings break your text up so that it’s easy to read on screen.  And they’re great for search engines – which use headings to work out what your page is about.

2. Keep it Short

I don’t mean that you can’t write a long page for your website, Google actually tends to prefer longer pages.  But you need to think about keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.

Most people won’t read a paragraph that’s longer than 3 lines.  And using one sentence (or even one word) paragraphs can be a great way to hook your customers.

Go on…

3. Ask Questions

Another good way of engaging with your readers and holding their attention is to address your text directly at them.  And an easy way to do this is to ask your customers questions – don’t you agree?

4. You Don’t Have to be Grammatically Correct

I dnt fink u shud rite lik this, but the web is a more informal medium, so strict grammar rules don’t always apply.  Indeed, sometimes more grammatically correct content can sound forced, because online copy tends to be more conversational.

You wouldn’t normally write a sentence starting with the words “but” or “and”.  But sometimes this is appropriate to keeping your copy flowing naturally.  As a rule of thumb, if it sounds ok when you say it out loud then it will work on your website.

5. Emphasise the Right Words

Using bold text and italics is a really good way to add emphasis to certain words or phrases.  But you have to do this right.  Consider the difference between these two sentences:

Please get the emphasis right when you are writing for the web”


“Please get the emphasis right when you are writing for the web”

The first sentence probably sounds more natural to you – you can imagine me sitting here, exasperated, begging you to get your emphasis right.  But stop right there.

Search engines think that you will emphasise the most important words in your copy.  And so, they will use text in bold or italics to decide what your page is about.  The second version shows that this page is about writing for the web and that’s why I should use it.

Remember that humans as well as search engine spiders have to read your website.  If you emphasise too many words you’ll make your text hard to read – and you’ll probably confuse the search engines too.

6. Make a List

Lists and bullet points aren’t just a good way to make reading your website a nicer experience for your customer.  They can be a tool in your SEO arsenal.

People love numbered lists (6 Tips for Writing Well for the Web, The 5 Best Tricks for Keeping Fit, How to Write a CV in 3 Easy Steps).  So if you want to write articles that your customers will shout about – and link to – a numbered list might do the trick.

For more advice on optimising your website try our SEO training, which will cover copywriting perfect webpages.

One response to “6 Tips for Writing Well for the Web”

  1. Mike Hunter says:

    Great article Susan, I found the tips about emphasis particularly helpful. When I read the second point about keeping sentences short, I instantly thought about the translation aspect of writing for the web. If you are preparing website content which you are going to want translated, the above rules all apply. Well written content, with short simple sentences will translate better, and be easier for a translator to work with. Rules in the target language may be different to English, for example a German audience is less likely to want a numbered list. Some languages are more grammatically fussy than English. These types of issues are about correctly localising the copy for the relevant target market, but the general rule of thumb is that most rules for good web writing in English, will also apply in other languages.


    Mike Hunter
    CEO Ltd.

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