A guest blog from Rachel Williams, professional copywriter.

Did you know that most people decide whether they want to stay on a web page in less than a second, and most don’t even read content properly – they scan for relevance, picking out individual words and phrases that mean something to them.

That makes writing copy for websites rather a daunting prospect, doesn’t it?!

But it doesn’t have to be. Follow my top 10 tips and your content will work much more effectively for you:

1. Think like your customer. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they want to know in order to choose your service or buy your product. What are their problems and how can you meet their needs? Show what you can do for them not just how great you are.

2. Get to the point. You don’t have time to waffle so order each page using the ‘inverted pyramid’ style in order to get your message across. Start with the conclusion, follow up with less important information and end with a general background to the piece. It’s a case of facts first and detail later.

3. Write in a conversational tone. Big words don’t win customers. Use your everyday language, imagine you’re actually talking to someone and your personality will start to show through – it could make a difference to your customer conversion rate if they feel you’re more friendly and approachable than your competitors.

4. Don’t get too technical (even if your business is!). You might know what you’re talking about, but will your audience? They need to understand exactly what you’re selling – otherwise they’ll go elsewhere.

5. Aim for one idea per paragraph, it’ll minimise the amount of information missed when readers scan the page.

6. Keep sentences short. An average of 15-20 words is a good target. Anything longer and you’ll need to make sure your punctuation is spot on, and if it isn’t you could get in to trouble, besides which you may start to go off at a tangent and your message will be lost, which means you’re already losing your reader who’s probably desperately hoping for a full stop by now. Get my drift?!

7. Be concise and edit ruthlessly! If you stick to short sentences you’ll already be achieving this, but always avoid using six words when two or three will do e.g. ‘At this point in time’ could just be ‘Now’. It’ll help no end with clarity of message.

8. Break up lengthy text with meaningful sub headings. This helps present your information in manageable, bite-size chunks – and helps people find content that will most interest them.

9. Use bullet points to vary the flow and highlight key facts that shouldn’t be missed.

10. Proofread your writing! I can’t bang on about this enough, because I do believe that a website littered with spelling errors loses credibility. You’ll run the risk of looking unprofessional and find it more difficult to convert customers.

Taking this approach will help keep your readers’ attention and increase the amount of time they spend on your site. Why not review some of your existing web pages and see how a new improved version performs for you? It’d be great to hear how you get on!