Words in the Web: Writing Website Copy for an Online Audience

Posted by Kyle Edralin - February 1, 2017 • 5-minute read

Words in the Web Writing Website Copy for an Online Audience

I may start this with a strange idea, but hear me out.

Don’t write for the web.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t write with the web in mind. Think in terms of who, not what - who will you be writing for?

Search engine optimization, posting plans, targeted ads, media content and social sharing are the standard tools that everyone needs in order to make your content float in the waters of the Web. Any content marketer must have an essential grasp of these tools to make sure their content appears on the web, but that is also answering what, not who.

Ultimately, the content you’ll be putting out there will be digested by one singular entity: the person. And while there may be ads upon ads building on headlines, header images and hot topics, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee one way to reach your viewer.

So the bottom line is basics. In order to make compelling content, you need to go with something that all people inherently want to see in the world around them: narrative. Narrative helps them understand a point, anchor one point to another, or springboard to a completely different idea without the transition being awkward and forced.

Write for people on the web, not the web itself.

What’s in the web?

The web operates on the framework that tries to recreate how people naturally look for information - that is, by following associations that we’ve developed from infancy and our everyday lives.

Here’s the thing with that approach though: the Web (and technology in general) can only come so close to replicating this train of thought. For all the sophistication of tools on the internet, they cannot come even close to replicating what a single human mind can do.

It’s this disjoint that the tools of the Web come in. Search engine optimization makes it more likely that we’ll see what we’re looking for, a little bit like the feeling you get when you’re looking for something inside the house with a rough idea of where it is, but not exactly where. SEO helps mitigate this problem by crafting a system where it becomes easier for the Web to show you what you’re looking for, without being too obtrusive or asking for too much.

Thinking of tools as the barest minimum on how content writing tips work is a good approach. They’re the barest things you can do to at least guarantee that your content shows up on the Web. While certainly clever workarounds with this tool could allow you to gain a bigger audience, keeping them is another thing - and that’s where writing for people shines.

What’s in people?

People can’t resist a good story. Good content needs to have a narrative in order to make people stay and engage with it - and that’s something that no amount of tools on the web could allow you to make. Sure, proper grammar and the right keywords are essential to a blog post or web copy, but if your entire copy has no narrative coherence, they’d essentially be very well-oiled cogs just jamming against each other, since they’re all rotating their own ways.

Narrative relies on sequencing, development and growth-driven mindset: that is to say, your readers must be built towards something at the end of engaging with your content. This narrative follows through the entire campaign, or even the entire business. Take this storyline from RedBull about the now famous “mission to the edge of space.” While capturing the interest of millions around the world for it’s scientific and human achievements, it also sold a lot of RedBull. And acquired an Emmy. While smashing five Guiness records.

successful marketing stunt of Redbull

Redbull's Successful Marketing Stunt: Mission To The Edge of Space

Social media could revolve around a developing story within your company. Your SEO will change depending on how people view your industry. But ultimately, it’s knowing the line between people who are exposed to a lot of answers and your content being exactly what it is they’re looking for that will make up good website copy.

Writing with the web

The line between how to write a good content page from a great one is about the journey. You need to answer the question of the people coming to your page by writing the answer to questions they may not even initially have. Providing value, and growing on that value, is what allows your web copy to effectively resonate with the Web. It’s because it’s people, not internet servers around the world, that will ultimately give your copy its worth.

So don’t write for the web.

Write for people.

Recall any brand stories that left an impression? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @StraightArrowPH

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Topics: Digital Marketing

Written By

Kyle Edralin

Kyle Edralin

Kyle Edralin is a content writer for StraightArrow Corporation. He happens to think that penguins are underrated.

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