Write Website Copy for Positive UX.

Website Copy that provides positive UX keeps users on your website.

Build a solid foundation when writing website copy for positive UX.

If you work on website content, you might not think about how to write website copy for positive UX (User Experience). UX may sound to you like a back-end term that’s best left up to developers. However, that’s a faulty assumption, especially if you’ll be working with designers and developers on websites and other online projects.

In my experience, writers can do a better job of contributing to websites when they understand the basics of UX. By broadening your scope in this way, you’ll provide more value to your client or company—and maybe even lead to more substantial work that extends your portfolio, gets you promoted, or helps you land that next job.

Let’s run through the basics of planning for positive UX using copywriting techniques.

What Does it Mean to Write Website Copy that Delivers Positive UX?

First, let’s start with a general definition of UX. According to Wikipedia, “The user experience is how a user interacts with and experiences a product, system or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency.” This would include planning for clear navigation, fast loading times, and responsiveness on all types of devices.

Another way to think of UX from a copywriter’s point of view is that users have a good experience when the copy helps and motivates users to move through each page, understand the page, and move smoothly from one relevant page to another so they can quickly get the information they need.

Even if you don’t have input into the site’s design, functionality, responsiveness, and structure, writers can enhance this process by paying attention to areas including:

  • Research
  • Readability
  • Scannability
  • SEO
  • Formatting
  • High-Quality Content

Let’s look at how these can affect how you write copy for user experience.

Research Helps You Develop Copy that Results in a Positive User Experience.

High-Quality Content. Arrow aimed at bullseye target. Boston-based Westebbe Marketing

UX generally takes the lead role in researching background areas that will ultimately drive the structure, functionality, and look of the website. However, it will serve you well to do your own research, as you will need different information than the design and development team.

Some key areas to research when you write for website UX are:

How does the company want to be portrayed? Is their personality conservative, professional yet easy-going, fun, data-driven, or something else? Your copy should reflect a personality that the user will relate to and find credible.

What is the company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? How can you create copy that highlights what the company does best, its value, and why the visitors on your website should care? There may be obvious ways to include USPs, but they can also be woven subtly throughout the copy.

Who are you talking to? You’ll want to think about who you are currently talking to, as well as additional audiences you’d like to attract. Do background work on who your key audiences are, what their concerns are, and the information they want on the pages you are writing. This may vary from desktop to mobile, so determine which type of device is most common among your users.   

How does the company fit in the competitive landscape? There are different ways to compete in the market and your niche. You may offer the lowest price, the best service, or the most creative solutions. Make your best qualities shine, putting them front and center as part of your brand.

Readability Provides a Positive Experience for Website Users.

One of your main goals in planning your website for positive UX is to keep people moving down the page. The best way to do this is to make it easy and enjoyable. If it feels like a chore, they’ll click away.

Some of the key rules of thumb for assuring website readability include:

  • Write short sentences, and also keep paragraphs short (three to five sentences max).
  • Don’t use a complicated word when a simple one will do.
  • Edit without mercy, and then proof, proof, proof.
  • Avoid needless jargon that is either cliché or difficult for laypeople to understand.
  • If you’re working with a design, think about how you can highlight copy with interesting images, icons, photos, and videos or podcasts.

Related Reading: The 5 Most Important Rules to Boost Readability

Scannability Requires On-Page Organization.

Image of Eyes: To improve UX, write website copy that reflects how users scan webpages.

The major of visitors to your website will scan each page, rather than through the copy top to bottom—so plan your website accordingly. You have several main tasks when it comes to scannability. First, make it easy for them to find the information they care about. Second, get them to read content more comprehensively. Many of the tips in this area also make it easier for Google to index and serve up your pages in search results.

Some ways to improve scannability of website pages include:

  • User hierarchical heading tags, with your title as an H1 heading, main subheads as H2 headings, and sub-topics under your H2 headings as H3-6 (although I rarely go past H3).
  • Use H2 headings every two or three paragraphs.
  • Place important words closer to the left of the page, at the beginning of headlines and sentences.
  • Keep your thoughts in logical order. Use discrete paragraphs that fall logically under a relevant heading. Remove redundancy between sections.

Related Reading: How Do Users Scan Content? (And Why You Should Care)

Related Reading (NN Group): How Users Read on the Web

Support SEO When Creating UX-Focused Website Content.

Website SEO 2021

Using copywriting techniques for front-end SEO, which refers to what the user sees, enables your website pages and blog articles to get more attention from search engines.

Note that Google’s new AI-driven algorithm focuses on context—how a keyword is used in a search term—rather than merely isolated keywords. In addition, given the rise of search through voice recognition, use natural-sounding language that echoes the way a user speaks in everyday language.

Related Reading: 16 Fool-Proof Tips for Optimizing On-Page SEO

Here some copywriting tips for front-end SEO:

Keywords: Using only one search term per page will prevent Google from thinking you have redundant pages, which prevents proper indexing. When researching your keywords, look for long-tail keywords that sound like what users would say when searching on their mobile phones or speech recognition software. Then, put keywords, keyword-related terms, and synonyms in H2 subheads and the first sentence of paragraphs.

Content: Anticipate user needs and expectations on each page, then create high-value content to keep them reading, scanning, and interacting. Write to your specific audience—their demographics, expertise, function, level of decision-making, and other factors.

Meta Data: If you’re using WordPress or another CMS (content management system), write your title tags and meta descriptions to appeal to the users and clarify content for Google. Your title tag, the clickable blue link at the top of your Google snippet, should be 50-60 characters and include the page’s keyword. Your meta description, the text below the title tag, should be 155-160 characters and include the keyword early in the first sentence.

Related Reading: Understand Outbound Links—And Why You Need Them

Format Your Copy for UX with Visual Comfort.

Writing using proper formatting improves the user experience.
Chunking the article increases engagement and readability.

Correctly formatting your copy is good for readability and scanning. On the other hand, dense copy can give your reader a headache.  Open up the pages so your copy is easier on the eyes, preventing discomfort that can turn them away from the screen. The designer often takes the lead in providing plenty of soothing white space, but you can help.

Some copywriting tips for opening up the page include:

Keep sections short: “Chunking” copy into small, logical sections that flow into each other. Use frequent H2 subheads, small paragraphs, short sentences, and language free from hype and industry jargon.

Highlight Details: Use (but don’t overuse) methods to emphasize important facts and details using bullet points, numbered lists, pull quotes, and other formatting techniques to break up the page,

Optimize Font Size and Spacing: If it’s up to you, rather than a designer, choose large, easy-to-read fonts (at least 16 points), Use a family of only several fonts—perhaps one for headlines, one for body copy, and one for captions. Keep line spacing at around 130-150% as a percentage of the font size.

Related Reading: 12 Surefire Practices for Website Formatting

Let High-Quality and Value Drive Website Copy UX.

The number one thing website users want is relevant, high-quality content that is easy to find—content that provides information that will meet and exceed the user’s expectations and needs. And, as usual, what’s good for your visitors is also good for SEO.

Some ways to drive copywriting quality on websites are:

Address their concerns: Understand, anticipate, and deliver the content your users expect and need—keeping in mind the audience’s level of knowledge about your industry, products, and services. One way to do this is to think about the questions prospects and customers ask when researching, evaluating, comparing, purchasing, and retaining your services—and the answers that will move them closer to purchase. This will help you write copy that is most relevant to your prospect’s and customers’ concerns.

Stay on brand: Keep your tone and “personality” consistent with the brand. Also, use consistent messaging about your company’s unique strengths and how you provide value to your customers.

Boost your “EAT” factors: When Google raters (real humans) evaluate your pages for quality, they look at factors known as EAT: Expertise, Authority, and Trust: You can increase your EAT score with high-value “extras”, such as research studies, testimonials, case studies, and reviews. Plus you can provide outbound links and resources to sites that are highly respected in your industry.

Look professional: Keep your copy free from grammatical errors, typos, and lackluster copy. Copy with these problems shows a lack of caring; after all, if your copy is sloppy, what else don’t you pay attention to? Learn how to avoid Sloppy Copy and Content Mistakes.

Are You Ready To Plan Your Website Copy for Positive UX?

Plan to write website copy that results in a positive User Experience (UX).

Don’t let designers or marketers that UX is only the development team’s job. The copy is an integral part of the user’s experience. Using the copywriting techniques above, you’ll play a valuable role in keeping readers on each page and enhancing their experience on your website.

For high-quality content that always focuses on your audience, contact Westebbe Marketing, a Boston-based agency specializing in high-performing original content. Contact us online, call us at (617) 699-4462, or email us.

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Understand Outbound Links—And Why You Need Them

Understand Outbound Links - Concept Image

Do you Understand Outbound Links–and Do You Use Them?

Do you put outbound links in your blog articles or other pages? That is, do you put links that point to a website other than your own? Maybe you do. Maybe you just say “meh.” Maybe you don’t because you don’t want to risks sending your visitors to another site. If you’re new to blogging, you may not understand outbound links or why you might (or might not) use them.

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10 Easy Ways to Boost WordPress SEO without Plugins

Abstract image of increasing WordPress SEO with built-in tools--no extra WordPress plugins required.

How Can I Boost My SEO Without Plugins?

It’s a common question among new WordPress users: “How can I boost WordPress SEO without plugins?” Fortunately, WordPress has a lot of SEO functionality you can use “right out of the box.” While you might want to jump into plugins right away, that’s just not practical for many people. While it’s a user-friendly application, it still takes time to learn and get comfortable with WordPress. This is especially true if you don’t have hands-on experience building or managing a website.

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How to Improve Website Stickiness: 5 Essential Copywriting Tips

Main image: how to improve website stickiness: Tips for Copywriters (computer with post-it notes on the screen
Keep your visitors! Learn how to improve website stickiness

Don’t lose website visitors!

Learn how to improve website stickiness.

SEO is all about getting people to your site. But once you get a visitor, how do you get them to stay there? Do they interact with the site, or do they vanish into thin air (and go to your competitor’s site)? There are many things a copywriter can do to improve website stickiness and lower the bounce rate. Follow the advice in the article, and you can improve search engine results, traffic, visitor engagement, and lead generation.

First, some definitions about website stickiness and bounce rates:

What is website stickiness?

Stickiness is a term for keeping people on a website longer, which generally means they look at more pages within the site and interact with content. Search engines prefer sites that are sticky and track how long users stay on a site as a result of an organic search.

What is bounce rate?

This is a calculation that represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave, rather than continuing to onto other pages of the website. Exact definitions can vary from just looking at one page or leaving after just a few seconds. You want your bounce rate to be low, indicating that they find your site to be valuable. Or, as Avinash Kaushik, a well-known business analyst,  put it, “I came, I saw Yuk, I am out of here.”

A high bounce rate indicates a low level of user interaction with your website.

What is a typical bounce rate?

The short answer is that there is no typical bounce rate. For that reason, it’s also difficult to define “good” and “bad” bounce rates. The figures below bear this out:  

  • A B2B website has an average bounce rate of 25-55%
  • According to ConversionXL, landing pages have an average bounce rate of 60%-90%. However, another source that notes that, for landing pages, the main traffic sources are PPC and social media ads—and the ideal percentage is up to 40%.
  • For homepages and service pages, organic search is the most important traffic source. The importance of bounces is medium. The ideal percentage is less than 60%.
  • Blogs have an average bounce rate of 65-95%

It’s difficult to know how to improve website stickiness,. Remember that you can expect bounce rates to vary based on industry and niche, where the traffic comes from (Google calls this the channel), type of website, and type of web page.

Here are some examples illustrating how bounce rate averages differ according to website type and industry:

Website stickiness vary by website type.; ecommerce and retail 20-45%; b2b websites 24-55%; lead generation websites 30-55%. non-ecommerce content websites 35-60%; landing pages 60-90%; dictionaries, blogs, portals 65-90%
Website stickiness varies by website type. (Source CXL)
Bounce rate varies by industry (source: Kissmetrics)

What is the right bounce rate for your website?

A good piece of advice to help learn how to improve website stickiness for your site is to set a benchmark and goals for your own website, analyze bounce rates over time, see what works for your specific company, and adjust website content accordingly.

Now that we’ve covered the basics about stickiness and bounce rate, we can get down to how to improve stickiness if you are a copywriter.

Read here to find out about setting goals using the SMART framework.

Website stickiness Tip #1:
Ensure quality and readability.

Quality and readability go hand-in-hand when it comes to improving website stickiness. (Man reading a book)
Quality and readability go hand-in-hand when it comes to improving website stickiness.

If you read my blog articles regularly, you hear a lot about publishing only high-quality copy. It’s my #1 tip for almost any aspect of copywriting, including how to increase website stickiness.

Google designs its search algorithm based on your audience’s behavior, so in the end, it always comes down to whether your audience likes your content and comes back for more. When in doubt about content, be audience-centric and not self-serving. There are many aspects of what makes content high quality.

Read how to avoid content mistakes that can damage website stickiness.

Read these additional tips on improving content readability.

First is to write for a specific audience or audience persona. This will help you determine a relevant topic and what type of information to include. When thinking about how to increase website stickiness, pay special attention to readability and how easy it is for the reader to find what they are looking for.

Learn how to create your audience persona with this template.

Website stickiness Tip #2:
Leverage page titles and subheads

Again, we’ll start with some definitions about page titles (the H1 tag) and subheads (H2, H3, H4 tags–and down the line):

What is the H1 Tag?

Also known as the post title, the H1 Tag is the title that shows up on the webpage itself. It’s the first thing the user sees when they land on the page, so it must capture their attention. Note: Don’t confuse it with the HTML “page title” (also known as the meta tag, HTML title tag, or SEO title), which shows in the browser window and as the title in the search engine results page snippet.

What is the H2 Tag?

The web page should be set up with a hierarchy of heading tags. First is H1, as defined above. Logical subheads would be set up hierarchically with H2, H3, and H4 tags (and down to line).

Here’s how copywriters can optimize H1 and subheading tags as a way to improve website stickiness:

How to Optimize Your H1 Tag:

Your H1 page title is the first place where the copywriter can affect stickiness. If it doesn’t immediately capture the audience, they may leave very quickly. Most important, it should clearly and correctly indicate what the article is about. Again, if you mislead the user they will likely move away from the page and your website. Make it useful—not self-serving or overly hyped.

How to Optimize Your H2 Tags:

If the reader decides to read the content on the page, you’ve won your first stickiness battle. The next step is to engage your audience and help them move smoothly through the content. One way to do this is making it easy for them to scan the article to tell them what to expect and determine if the content is relevant. This is where your H2 and H3 subheads can help you boost website stickiness.

In addition to helping your reader scan, subheads help them find the information they are specifically interested in. Equally important, the content should closely reflect the subhead it falls under, or both the reader and Google will become confused. An adjunct of this is to have each subsection focus on a discrete idea. Be sure to include your keywords (or synonyms), but don’t overdo it or inappropriately force it, or Google and your readers will be turned off and your bounce rate will jump.

Website Stickiness Tip #2:
Improve website stickiness through ease and emphasis.

Empahsis helps readers pick out important details. Image shows examples of underline, color, italics, bold, bulleted list, call-out.
Emphasis signals helps readers pick out important details.

I don’t want to say that your readers are lazy, but they are busy and easily distracted. Make it easy for them to digest content by making sentences short, easy to understand, and varying in length. Likewise, short paragraphs aid comprehension, break up the copy, and add some eye-calming white space. As for specific words, avoid hype, jargon, or complicated words when an easy one will do.

Website Stickiness Tip #3:
Use formatting wisely.

Another way to make reading easier is with the smart use of formatting. Numbered lists, bullet points, and call-outs lists draw attention to interesting details, break up the page, and keep the reader interested. Other ways to help the reader call attention to important details include care use of boldface, italics, underlining, and colors.

Website Stickiness Tip #4:
Know how much information.

Provide the right amount of information to decrease bounce rate: Shows 2 side-by-side images. (1) road signs pointing in 7 directions, (2) blank road sign
Know how much information is right for your audience.

Determining how much information to provide on each page is tricky. Again, there’s no single answer. For SEO, Google likes to see at least 300 words per page. But again, you need to judge page length based on what is useful for your readers.

Too little and your readers might be frustrated by not having enough decision-making information. Too much information and your risk overwhelming them. Some of this comes down to what your audience likes and the type of page (blog article, product page, contact us page). Each type of page has opportunities to make it appealing, readable, and optimized to decrease bounce rates and increase conversion.

Website Stickiness Tip #5:
Learn how to boost stickiness through internal links.

Image representing internal links
Add internal links while creating a page or at a later time. as part of keeping your site updated.

Internal links are helpful for several reasons. They help SEO, but they also help readers. Logical internal links help your audience find related information if they want to know more about the topic. Up to several internal links on a page can lead visitors to helpful, relevant resources. Some people recommend many more, up to a dozen or more, but I find too many links within paragraphs confusing and difficult to read.

I’m going to repeat the previous paragraph in 2 different ways so you can see what I mean (Note that the links in the paragraph are fake!):

Example 1 – Too Many Links:

Internal links are helpful for several reasons. They help SEO, but they also help readers. Logical internal links help your audience find related information if they want to know more about the topic. Up to several internal links on a page can lead visitors to helpful, relevant resources. Some people recommend many more, up to a dozen or more, but I find too many links within paragraphs confusing and difficult to read.

Messy, right? Instead, cut down the number of link or find alternate ways to display them. Here’s the same paragraph—you still have internal links, but it’s easier for the reader to make sense of and to find the extra resources they may want.

Again, the sample paragraph below includes fake links.

Example 2 – fewer, but more useful, links:

Internal links are helpful for several reasons. They help SEO, but they also help readers. Logical internal links help your audience find related information if they want to know more about the topic. Up to several internal links on a page can lead visitors to helpful, relevant resources. Some people recommend many more, up to a dozen or more (source), but I find too many links within paragraphs difficult to read.

Read more about internal links here.
Here are more resources about SEO.

Much better! The paragraph above shows that you can have several links even in a short paragraph without overwhelming the reader. Instead, you made it easier for your website visitor to access related pages and direct them to other valuable content—increasing stickiness.

Successful copywriters focus on how to increase stickiness.

A copywriter’s first duty is to the reader. However, it would be silly to suggest that the modern copywriter doesn’t have to be mindful of website performance. It just takes a little more knowledge and practice. If you use external creative resources, look for a freelance copywriter who creates SEO-friendly content that engages your audience and keeps them on your website.

If you need copy that enhances stickiness, contact Westebbe Marketing, (617) 699-4462.

#SEOcopywriting #WebsiteStickiness #MarketingCopywriter

Avoid These Sloppy Copy and Content Mistakes

2x2=5, as analogy to copy and content mistakes

I would dare any writer or marketer to say that they’ve never let a typo slip through the cracks–or made other copy and content mistakes. It’s possible for even the best writers to score poorly on readability, even though there were technically no grammar errors. Mistakes happen to the best of us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our hardest to avoid them. The consequences of typos can go far beyond embarrassment; even a simple typo can come at a huge cost.

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