Six Guidelines to Make Your Website Writing Even Better
Last week we talked about gimpy websites and what to do to make them better…
Bottom line: Make it easy. Make it simple.
This includes your message–your core message you want to communicate to people when they land on your website…
Do you want them to subscribe to an email list? Do you want them to ask for a listing presentation? Do you want them to register for a workshop or conference?
It starts, of course, with you: What are you trying to do with your website?
So, once you do the leg work of figuring out your strategy for your website or blog, your next step is to turn that strategy into a message.
A lean, mean persuasion machine. Here’s how to do that.
1. Give people only what they need.
Steve Krug said it best: Kill happy talk.
What’s happy talk? It’s that fluff on the top of web pages that says things like “Welcome to my site…I hope you find….”
If they’re looking for secrets on how to stage a home…give it to them in as few words as possible [I’ll explain what I mean in a minute.]
If they’re looking for a list of foreclosures…give it to them immediately. You’ve only got four seconds to show people you can help them. Don’t waste those four seconds on a verbose introduction. Get to the point. And get to the point fast.
2. Cut. Cut. Cut. And cut again.
If you can trim a 500-word article down to 250 words…do it, please. And if you can cut that down to 100 words…do it, please.
And if you can trim that down into 50 words…do it.
And yes, if you can say it in 25 words…you must. Not only you must, but you want to: Tight, compressed messages pop off the page.
Remember, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was only 250 words. The speech before his was 2 hours long. Nobody remembers the 2 hour speech. Coincidence? I think not.
3. Break up walls of words.
You’ve probably seen it before: A large chunk of copy that looks like a brick wall on your screen. At all costs, break it up.
Keep this in mind when writing for the web: Short paragraphs. Short sentences. Short words. Follow those three simple rules and you’ll never have a wall of words that stops readers cold in their tracks.
4. Give useful, urgent, unique or ultra-specific information.
Online readers are ruthless. They don’t have much time, so they’re not going to read everything on your website. That’s why you need to make your information clear, concise and compelling.
One great way to do this is to use the 4 U’s approach.
When you give readers useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific information, you are giving them something they need or want. Do that and you can’t go wrong.
5. Write using inverted pyramid style.
Journalism historian Mitchell Stephens: “The inverted pyramid organizes stories not around ideas or chronologies but around facts. It weighs and shuffles the various pieces of information, focusing with remarkable single-mindedness on their relative news value.”
When you write in this style, you put the most newsworthy information at the top. After that comes the information in order of importance, with the least important at the bottom.
6. Layer your copy.
In a nutshell, create leads [short bursts of compelling copy] to draw a user through pages, pop-up windows and information windows.
If you’re sending an email, remember, you’re first task is to get them to open the email. So you must write a compelling subject line.
Second, you must compel them to click the link inside the email that drives them to the supporting web page.
Third, you want them to perform some final action–subscribe or call or join or email. That’s the terminal point in your communication. And because you don’t want to accomplish all those tasks in one place…you layer copy throughout to draw the user in. the point behind the email is to simply get them to click through to you website.
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