How to write for the web

Effective web copywriting should take account of how internet search engines work, and how users read and interact with online content.


Here are the key points to remember when laying out content for web pages.

1. Length
How much to write depends on whether you are telling or selling. If you are selling you need to keep your copy brief, punchy and compelling. If you are "telling" or imparting useful information to your potential customer, then the length of what you write is not as important as the way you lay it out.

2. Page length
If visitors are interested in your content then page length is not an issue – the scroll bar makes it very easy to move down a long piece of text. The key point is to make it easy to scan.

3. Line width
It's difficult to read long lines of text online. The ideal length is 10-20 words, or 75 characters. As long as the content is good - users will scroll. Horizontal scrolling should always be avoided.

4. Good headline writing
Headlines should be about 5-10 words and encapsulate the meaning of the page accurately. Avoid using cryptic or "clever" headlines. These only serve to confuse on the web, and will do your web page no favours in the search engines.

Include relevant keywords in your headlines so your readers know instantly that this content is for them. Including keywords in your headline may also help to improve your search engine rankings for those words.

5. Short paragraph writing
Paragraphs should be 4-5 lines, no more. Divide up your paragraphs with subheadings to make it easier for your readers to scan the content to find the relevant section.

6. Numbering
Use numbering when listing key points in order of relevance or significance. The information is picked up by the search engines which assign priority to content within numbered lists.

7. Bullets
Bulleted lists aid fast assimilation of information. Avoid more than seven bullets in one list or readers may lose the sense of connection between the points.

Web page title

Don't overlook the web page title when devising your content. This information shows at the top of every page in the tab section and is:

* used by search engines to help index your page
* displayed by some search engines in their list of results
* displayed by default when users bookmark your webpage

Therefore it is important to make the web page title instantly recognisable.

* Do not use the same title for all your web pages.
* The display space is small so keep each one down to a few words.

Description tag

This is the useful text that will sometimes appear under the title in search engine results. Surfers use this text to help them decide whether to click through. You can code a phrase of 15 to 20 words to appear, otherwise the first few words of your page content will be displayed by default.


  • Unless your online content is part of a paid registration or membership offer, do avoid forcing people to register for free content.
  • Instead of trying to capture users' data, use the web to engage with people.
  • Offer the opportunity to comment on content, either published live online in a comments section, through a forum or through an unpublished comments box.
  • Make sure you respond speedily.
  • If you offer the opportunity to comment - decide whether you need to moderate comments.
  • If you are publishing online articles, ensure the call to action and your offer relate to the content.

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Julie - Oakland Nannies


Most internet searches are looking for answers to questions. People are looking for clear answers - make sure you provide them.



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