Copywriting for the Web

Either you or I can write the text. It’s mainly the text that determines what visitors do after visiting your website, and where your website ranks on Google. Some guidelines I use are.

Cut Useless information

Useless information won’t fire visitor’s imagination. Visitors can’t get no satisfaction. I avoid the kind of self-congratulatory promotional writing that makes your MD feel good. Instead, I describe what delineates, distinguishes, and differentiates your business.

Assert Then Justify

I start each paragraph with an assertion, then justify the assertion. So I:

  • Brainstorm a series of interesting points, facts or ideas;
  • Conclude something useful;
  • Cut the conclusion from the bottom of the paragraph;
  • Paste conclusions into the paragraph’s opening sentence.

If readers agree with me they’ll read the first sentence then skip to the next paragraph. If they don’t, they can read the paragraph, and form their own conclusion.

Writing Structure

Ideally, paragraphs should be 2 to 4 sentences, each between 10 to 15 words long. It’s easier to comprehend such sentences. Fog-index fans believe that sentence and word length correlate with years of formal education.

Then follow each paragraph with a bullet-point list. Each list-item:

  • Justifies the assertion with reasons or examples;
  • Starts with a verb, if possible;
  • Follows a sequence or rank-order of importance.

Active Sentences, Present Tense

Actives sentences possess a subject, verb, and object in that order. They are easier to understand. It’s harder for readers to picture what’s happening when reading passive sentences: e.g. object, verb, and perhaps subject. The sentence is even trickier to understand if it lacks a subject that does the verb.

I write in the present tense. I do so, and will continue to do so. It sounds more exciting.


Good copy provides useful information. I:

  • Focus on facts;
  • Provide data for visitors to decide;
  • Cut the marketing fluff.

Marketing folk often believe that more adjectives equals better copy. Yet, adjectives are just the writer’s opinion. You ain’t fooling the reader. If readers distrust the writers’ opinion, they’ll ignore your adjectives whilst searching for plausible facts. If they don’t find facts, they’ll move elsewhere.

Some Quick Tips

Some quick tips, before the horrors of prepositional phrases and abstract nouns:

  • Short paragraphs, lots of headings makes answers easier to find;
  • Talk to your readers. Use you, we or I; Don’t say e.g. Student’s must, Employees should;
  • Put the action into verbs, not nouns. e.g. not “Our recommendations”, but, “We recommend”;
  • Simple words: e.g. Avoid obtain, prior to, purchase. Use: get, before, buy;

Avoid Prepositional Phrases

Readers find prepositional phrases trickier to understand. These phrases begin with a preposition and usually end with a noun, sometimes with a pronoun, gerund (which ends in ing) or a clause. Consider this sentence, where the prepositional phrases are in bold, between the brackets:

The unlikelyhood {of meeting orders} {from the majority} {of its new customers} is {of concern} {to the company}, due {to tardiness} {in the installation} {of its new manufacturing line}.

This sentences catalogs details, so that minor details appear as important as major ones. Each prepositional phrase acts as an adjective or an adverb. One big clue is the word “of”.

One trick is to use dependent clauses. Dependent clauses often start with words like whether, because, when, that and if. These clauses highlight was is important, and so help the reader understand the description. The sentence could become:

The company doesn’t know if it will deliver new customer orders on time, because the new manufacturing line isn’t installed.

Use Concrete, not Abstract Nouns

Replace abstract nouns with concrete nouns. Abstract nouns are nouns for things you cannot see, hear, touch, smell or taste. They have no physical existence. For example, emotions, ideals, ideas are usually abstract. Abstract nouns are hard to understand. Concrete nouns are physical things you can measure.

To replace abstract nouns with concrete nouns, usually the trick is to find a prepositional phrase with a concrete noun as it’s object. Just make this concrete noun the main subject. For instance:

  • The use of a computer will help your company process its payroll faster:- A computer will help your company process it’s payroll faster.
  • The use of the new compounds in connection with the cleaning of boiler tubes will result in the elimination of scale:- The new compound will eliminate scale from boiler tubes

It’s a slow process

I’ll admit that copywriting is a slow process. About 1,000 words a day, which is only 120 words an hour, 2 words a minute, is about ok. Writing and re-writing, polishing then deleting every sentence simply takes time. I’d be delighted if you would like to write the copy for your website.