Many people run into writer’s block when generating copy for their websites.  Deciding what and how much to include is always a juggling act.  Too little and your potential client may not feel comfortable that you know your business well enough.  Too much and you can scare people away.

To help I want to share a helpful article on writing for your website by my friend and Small Business Marketing maven, Stacy Karacostas:

Writing to Satisfy Both Readers and Skimmers on Your Website

Writing for the Web truly is different from writing for print. One of the most critical ways it’s different is that people don’t read the same way on the Internet as they do on paper. In fact, many people don’t read on the Web at all—at least not at first. Instead they skim and scan to see if your business has what they’re after.

Then, only if they’re really interested will they read your site content word for word. Or do a mix of skimming and reading.

So as an entrepreneur you don’t want to skimp on the amount of Website content (or copy) you write. Because, as I’ve talked about in previous articles, your Website has to have all the tools and information it needs to be a good salesperson. Otherwise it won’t help you grow your small business.

That means your writing has to be friendly and easy to understand. And your copy has to answer all your customer’s questions and deal with their objections…Then convince them to take action.

It also has to achieve three core goals:

  1. Make the shopping experience easy and convenient
  2. Inspire confidence
  3. Show what’s different, or better, about buying from you

That’s a mighty tall order to fill in the 250 words or less some “experts” recommend. Though really, it’s not about how many words of copy should go on a page because you need exactly as much as it takes to achieve your goals—no more and no less. It’s about how you write and format that copy.

So, let’s get back to what I was saying about skimming versus reading…

Most people will skim your Website before they read it—at least initially—because they want to see if you have what they are looking for. And they want to find it as quickly as possible.

However, when they’re really interested in what you are saying—or serious about buying soon—then they’ll devour every last word you put up there. Assuming, of course, that it is interesting, informative, and easy to read.

So, since some site visitors are going to read while others are going to skim, you need copywriting that satisfies both. How do you do that? Try editing and formatting your Website content with these important rules in mind:

  1. Banish Big, Bulky Paragraphs
    Big, long chunks of text are just not inviting to read. Especially on the Web. They just look like too much work, and are almost impossible to skim.Make all your paragraphs no more than five lines long. On the Web even a one sentence paragraph is fair game.
  2. Be Up Front
    Stick to one point and state it early in the paragraph. People who skim read the beginning of a paragraph far more often than they read the whole thing. And the last thing you want to do is bury critical information where it won’t get seen.
  3. It’s Good to Be Short
    It’s easier to both skim and read ideas that are broken down into bite-sized pieces. So keep sentences around 20 words or less. This seems hard at first, but you can almost always find a way to break a long sentence into two shorter ones. Use Tools/Word Count in Microsoft Word to keep yourself honest.
  4. Use 5 Cent Instead of 50 Cent Words
    Using long words take more thought, and are more likely to be misunderstood, than short ones.  Plus, these days most people (even college educated ones) read most comfortably at about an eighth grade level. So anytime it’s possible to use a shorter word, or two short words instead of one long one, do it. The exception: if the long word is specific to an industry or market you are trying to reach, then by all means use it.
  5. Catch Their Eye
    One of the best ways to make your copy both skim friendly and effective is with well-written headlines and subheads, and well-placed bolding and highlights. Someone should be able to skim nothing but these to get all the major points and decide whether or not to read deeper.
  6. Bring On the Bullets
    Next to headlines and subheads, bullets are one of the best tools for satisfying both skimmers and readers. Just make sure each one provides a clear, compelling benefit—not just a feature. Because it’s not just about what your product or service is or does. It’s what it does for your customer that matters.

By writing and formatting your small business Website content with these rules in mind, you make it easy for people to find exactly what they are looking for in an instant. And you can write as much copy as you need to satisfy anyone who wants to read more, and convince them to take action.

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Practical Marketing Expert and Business Lifestyle Architect Stacy Karacostas is on a mission to help other savvy entrepreneurs unchain themselves from their business. Discover how to market and grow your business with less effort, help more people, make more money, AND still have a life by grabbing your own copy of her *F*R*E*E* “Success without Shackles Starter Kit” at http://www.theunchainedentrepreneur.com