Online copywriting is indeed different from traditional print. It not only requires knowledge of the latest SEO, but web copywriting has to exploit the conveniences of the Internet while simultaneously downplaying its weaknesses. For instance, text on the web is harder to read than in print. So, copy has to formatted for easy scanning.
Another example of the difference between online copywriting and hard copy writing is appropriate structure and placement of call-to-action to increase conversion rates. There’s a delicate balance between providing free information and asking for a purchase.
Therefore, a web copywriter must stay up-to-date on the latest optimization elements and employ time-honored copywriting techniques which facilitate building trust with readers.
Copywriters and the Internet
Website copywriting is not only different because of space, it’s different because of space. In other words, though a webpage has no real limits, there must be limits imposed. A copywriter has to be aware of the space or word count and the attention span of the average visitor.
The U.S. Department of Commerce latest numbers show e-commerce sales were $51 billion in just the second quarter of 2012. That’s up 15% from the same time last year. —American Writers & Artists
Information is the key driver of the Internet. Incorporating as much information into small spaces is something an experienced online copywriter can do naturally.
The skill of online copywriting is developed over time. What makes it complicated is the “rules” of optimization are fluid. What’s acceptable today might not be tomorrow. And what works wonders today may be of little or no use tomorrow.
Online Copywriting Fundamentals
Copy writers using their talents for the Internet have to play by the aforementioned “rules”. This isn’t to say poetic license is off-limits–only to convey there are certain do’s and don’ts:
- Write for people first and second, search engines third. You’ve likely heard this before. And it’s evermore true now than ever. Search engines want natural, useful content as the post-Panda and Penguin environment so amply proves.
- Read twice, publish once. The old rule of carpentry is to “measure twice, cut once”. That’s equally important to online copywriting. Proofread your work before publishing it–spelling and grammar are likely to become a more important ranking signal in the future–especially in the coming semantic web.
- Format copy for easy scanning. Keep paragraphs and sentences short. Use headings and subheadings to allow readers to more easily find the information they most want.
- Make a compelling statement. How-to’s and lists are very effective types of online copywriting. Write a catchy title and don’t tease too long. Make key information stand-out.
- Copy only what works. That is, be original as possible. Create your own style and let it develop more as time goes on. Copy only optimization elements that are permissible to search engines.