Even though web copywriting is about appealing to users’ eyes, the key to success may be your ears.
Putting SEO and keywords aside for a moment, let’s think about what constitutes good web copy. It should be current, original, informative and authoritative.
Unfortunately, ignoring one major area will undermine your copy even if it has all those traits: readability.
One of my biggest pet peeves in web writing is overly technical or even academic language. Writers often get caught in the “good spelling and grammar” trap. While you absolutely want everything spelled and phrased correctly, it doesn’t mean you should follow every rule that you followed when writing a university essay on Paradise Lost.
Overly dry or academic content may be worded perfectly, it may contain brilliant arguments, but it will fail you if it isn’t easily readable for searchers. If it’s too technical, too dense, it could even turn off your readers. They’ll feel alienated by the language and seek a competitor who offers similar products, services or content but speaks to them in a more accessible way. In other words, unreadable content will spike your bounce rate and lower your conversion rate. Not good.
This is where the “aural test” comes in handy. By reading your own content out loud, either to yourself or to a friend, you get a stronger sense of how your content affects your web users. If it sounds robotic and distant, that’s because it is. The best way to attract readers online is to speak in a way that really connects with them. Keep it punchy, conversational and introductory. If your content is interesting and welcoming, you should hear that tone when you try the aural test.
The good part about this suggestion: it doesn’t even mean you have to dumb down your writing. You’ll be making it shorter and choppier but, in many cases, that also involves searching for especially descriptive and relevant words, which are cornerstones of great writing.
Keep it simple and natural and you’ll keep your readers on your site longer. If you don’t trust my word, maybe Albert Einstein’s will do:
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”