09/07/2019 - Marketing
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
You are writing for users, not readers
How do people read on the Internet? Answer: they barely do. On the web, people scan, swipe, surf, scroll, click, bookmark, share, like, pinch and zoom.
On the web, there are no readers, there are just users. Users don’t read, they search. And they only want one thing: to find what they are looking for quickly. If we aren’t able to offer this, we lose them.
If we can, we win them over: We transform users into followers, subscribers, leads, bookmarkers, sharers, advocates and maybe even customers.
The only reader is actually Google
On the web, we are also writing for Google. But watch out: Google is capable of learning. Long metatags are ignored and penalised for non-compliance. Pages that do not perform drop down the listings. Google knows the difference between good copy and poorly-written text.
It knows more than that too! Google also knows the user profiles on the Internet. The longer the profile, the more precise it is. As users, we leave behind a trail of data on the Internet, like a comet leaving behind a trail in the sky.
Relevance is measurable
The Google search algorithm is very advanced. Google knows whether content is relevant or not. Google measures how long a user spends reading a text ("retention time"). If the user reads it to the end, Google considers this a good text.
Artificial search machine intelligence
Google sees whether a text is easy or difficult to read. Easy texts receive a better rating.
Google recognises the words users search for. This is crucial, especially where keywords are built into the text.
Google evaluates headings, headlines, leads, snippets, image captions, page descriptions, image descriptions and all other kinds of text, in accordance with the following criteria:
– Simplicity of language
No double web on the World Wide Web
This means that we are not only writing text for the user but also for the performance of a page. The lingua franca of the Internet is English. This applies to:
– Page views
– Bounce rates
– Inside search queries
– Click rates
– Click-through rates
– Drop-out rates
– Average time on site
– Conversion rates
From this information, Google then derives what every marketing department dreams of: engagement. However, if the level of engagement is too low, we fall down the rankings.
Learning for learning machine
In fact, Google is one of the most prominent examples of artificial intelligence. Google is a learning machine. If we want to keep up with the pace, we also need to learn: Writing webproof text means feeding this machine. We do not write; we build content architectures.
The intelligence is not that artificial yet
But this is only half the story. Even if the user profiles that we are trying to activate represent nothing more than tags of networked data, there are real people behind them: users who are searching for answers.
5 phenomena that you absolutely need to be aware of
1. The 10-second problem
Statistics show that if users cannot find what they are looking for within the first 10 seconds of being on a page, they go back to surfing, and we have what is known as a drop-out.
2. The 7-minute rule
A user’s period of attention for a web page is accordingly short: The 7-minute rule indicates that a user leaves an online text after 7 minutes on average. With the capacity to absorb 200 words per minute, this equates to a text of around 1,400 words.
3. The F-shaped pattern phenomenon
Eye-tracking studies show that users generally look at the top left of a screen. They then search for relevant content within the text, reading from left to right. At the same time, they scroll further down the page. This is how the F-shaped pattern is created.
Heat maps from eye-tracking studies of three websites:
4. Numbering in the title
Users want to know what content they are engaging with. It is helpful if the title clearly indicates the content of the following paragraph. It is even more helpful if the title indicates how long the subsequent text is. Numbering in the title appears to satisfy the need for order. Uneven numbers are more effective than even numbers.
5. The supremacy of keywords
Keywords are still one of the most crucial keys to success. When users search for online content, they rarely do so with just one keyword. Instead they use a series of keywords known as a keyword phrase. You can identify these keywords using the Google keyword planner.
11 tips for effective copywriting for the Internet
1. Consider “reading management” aspects
In the headline, you need to clearly and explicitly explain what the subsequent text is about. Indicate how much (or how little) reading effort is involved in order to get to the point.
2. Write clearly and comprehensibly
Make it easy for the user: Be brief. Write actively. Include the most important details at the start. Avoid using filler words. Avoid nested sentences. Write what the people want to hear.
3. Use layers
Write coherently across all levels, from the page description through to datelines, headlines, subheadlines, body copy, lists, boxes and quotes, speech bubbles and image legends.
4. Incorporate clickbait
Incorporate clickbait; verbal bait. Provocative details in titles and headings arouse curiosity and encourage people to continue reading.
5. Isolate chunks
Split the text into chunks of three to maximum five lines by using meaningful subheadings.
6. Write titles that engage users
“Find out more” is a poor subheading. It doesn’t say anything. Write specifically what it is that the user can expect.
7. Write powerful teasers
Use powerful statements to capture the user’s attention. In the lead you have the opportunity to write teasers composed of two or three short sentences that will encourage the user to continue reading.
8. Suppress vanity
Write for the users and not for your own vanity. Don’t digress, don’t use flowery language. Your copywriting must be effective, simple and precise.
9. Guide the readers
Guide the users through the text. And above all, tell them that important information awaits them at the end. This way, you’ll keep their attention.
10. Provide a summary
Save the best until last. Summarise the content again in just a few words, as many users “read” from back to front.
11. Insert links
Keep the user hooked. Insert links to your newsletter, white papers, downloads or a registration form, for example.
Writing webproof text for users and performance
Write for users, not for readers. And write for Google. Keep the text simple and specific. Include the right keywords. Split the text into chunks so that when scanning it the user can see it is worth reading. And never lose the user’s attention.
Therefore, when writing webproof text don’t leave anything to chance. SwissGlobal offers a comprehensive package: from copywriting through to proofreading and final review before publishing online.