Digital Copywriting 101: 12 Tips for Creating Strong Content

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In today’s Web-focused world, the power of the Internet is key — one of the most important tools you have today for improving business, whether that means building your brand, attracting customers or increasing sales. And one of the best ways you harness that power comes down to this: your Web content. According to StartupNation, “it’s what you say and how you say it that makes the sale. Establishing credibility is key … The content on your site must be crisp and intelligent. What you say should grab a visitor’s attention, pique their interest and motivate them to action.”

How can you create copy that gets results? Here are our top 12 tips, including advice for B2B and B2B copywriting:

1. Write with a purpose.

One of the single most important ways you can improve your Web writing is through focus. Ask yourself what the content needs to do: Communicate information? Sell a product? Establish authority for your business? Once you have these goals in mind, it’s much easier to direct your copy. As Erin Kissane writes at A List Apart, “Anyone who touches copy can make a difference by insisting that every chunk of text on the site is doing something concrete … Copy needs specific goals to accomplish.”

2. Write with a solid voice.

Along with establishing a purpose for your writing, establish a sense of voice. What tone do you want your content to have? Will you talk directly to the reader or in third person? Do you want to be witty or academic, conversational or formal? What impression should your content give to readers about you, about your product(s)? To make your writing most powerful and least confusing, establish your voice and stick to it throughout your entire Web content.

3. Write better than the other guys.

“Keeping tabs on your competition is a great strategy for growing your business says Darren Dahl of Inc., and it’s also a smart method for strategizing your content. Evaluate the way your competitors are marketing their services online to see what’s working and what isn’t, and use that information to make your website most effective.

4. Write tight.

Web readers have short attention spans. Keep their interest by making information simple. Use tight copy and basic vocabulary, and aim to communicate the gist of what you’re saying as quickly and easily as possible.

5. Write with SEO keywords.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of making websites attractive to search engines—so that they’ll rank your website higher in search results, bringing greater numbers of Internet users to your content. Keywords can be a powerful tool in this practice, helping Google and other engines know what your website is about. Work your keywords into your content smoothly and easily, and incorporate them early: recent algorithm changes at Google indicate it’s the content above-the-fold that matters most.

6. But don’t just write with SEO keywords.

As David Reich writes at Content Marketing Institute, overthinking keyword use can be detrimental not only to your SEO but also to your ability to reach users. Why? “Thinking about keyword density means you’re not thinking about your audience.” Never sacrifice content quality in the name of using keywords or you risk losing your readers as soon as they come.

7. Write with images.

“Studies have shown that images are the first thing that draw the eye on brochures, posters, web content and really any document that includes both text and images,” says Tara Horner of One Extra Pixel. Amplifying your writing with images can be a powerful way to increase its effectiveness and impact readers.

8. Write short.

“I don’t care how good your writing is, most people won’t read more than a few sentences,” says Jason Cohen at CopyBlogger. “Any more and they’ll start scanning.” Make your content easy to scan through small sections. Use headers and keep paragraphs short.

9. But, in B2B content, it’s OK to write long.

While B2B copywriting should still be concise, because it often deals with complex or specialized products and services, it requires different copywriting skills. “In B2B, long copy is a good thing,” says Galen DeYoung of Search Engine Land. “It gives you the opportunity to explain attributes and benefits that aren’t readily apparent. It gives you the opportunity to differentiate your company’s products and services.”

10. B2B Content: Write with understanding.

One of the keys to creating effective B2B website copy is writing with an understanding of industry concepts and jargon. “It’s not rocket science,” said copywriter Pete Savage in a ProCopyTips interview, “but you need a solid understanding of the B2B world …You can either get that understanding through your work experience, which many people already have, or by studying the industry… books, blogs, industry publications, etc.” At Straight North, we’ve also seen speaking with a client’s sales people can be key to gaining the insider knowledge that helps reach business customers.

11. B2C Content: Write to be helpful.

“In the business to consumer (B2C) market, there is a lot of information that can be shared with customers and prospects,” writes Manya Chylinksi at Content Marketing Institute. Helpful, informative educational content meets an actual customer need, thereby encouraging them to stay, come back and share your site with others.

12. Write to Close.

The secret to getting results with your copywriting all comes down to this, according to Sonia Simone of CopyBlogger: “You need to tell your reader exactly what to do, how to do it, and that you want her to do it right now.”

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