In 1477, some enterprising person created a leaflet to persuade people to buy a new prayer book. Although the thousands-year-old flier itself has disintegrated over time, the act proved to be enduring: here was the birth of copywriting. (Or so the story goes.)
We’ve come a long way since then but the fundamentals of copywriting remain the same: the idea is to use words to attract, engage, and persuade. Whether it’s written on papyrus leaf or on the web, best practices are foundational to effective copywriting.
Of course, there have been many evolutions over the years. The historical precedent to our current practice of copywriting emerged in the late 1800s, when John Emory Powers became the world’s first full-time copywriter. Powers pioneered the use of straightforward, simple language in copy and also believed in honesty during a time when embellishment in advertising was rampant.
After World War II, society transformed—and copywriting changed, too. Marketing firms dominated and they took copywriting seriously, researching their audience and creating compelling brand stories.
Where does all that leave us today? With the advent of the internet, copywriting has become both more precise and expansive, as new writing styles and mediums continue to emerge.
Now, writing effective copy for online audiences requires a somewhat different set of rules than those that were used decades ago. To help gain some clarity around today’s website copywriting best practices, we’ve asked copywriters and business owners for their insights—and here’s what they said.
Website Copywriting Best Practices: 6 Crucial Aspects (& 70+ Insights)
1 Target Your Content
"An actor tries to get into the skin, into the mindset of the character. So, too, a good copywriter should get into the mindset of the persona of the target audience—feel their pain, feel their hopes, feel their joy before you ever start writing."
—David Leonhardt of THGM Writers
"To write effective website copy, you need to know your audience. Your messaging has to resonate and connect with the potential customers you’re trying to reach."
—Esther Strauss of Step By Step Business
"The best practice for website copywriting is to truly understand your audience. Once you know who you’re writing for, it will be easy to create engaging content."
—Adam Hempenstall of Better Proposals
"Having a data-backed writing approach that comprises extensive research and audience feedback will make it easier for you to understand what appeals to your target audience and catches their attention. Knowing trends and getting your audiences’ insights will help refine and constantly optimize your strategy, and help you create copy that resonates with people."
—Simon Elkjær of avXperten
"Who are you writing for, and what are their needs and wants? You must research your target audience and understand them completely. Write copy that speaks directly to them and addresses their specific pain points. Your copy becomes more effective the more your audience relates to them."
—Jeremy Clifford of Router CTRL
"If you want your audience to positively engage with the content you're posting, you need to understand what they're interested in and create content specifically targeted to them, and what they want to see and read."
—Morgan Lilker of Watches of Today
"Putting yourself in the reader's shoes allows you to dig deep into their needs, motivations, and pain points. Deliver and structure information in a way that will connect with your ideal audience by seeing things from their perspective throughout the entire writing process."
—Tasmin Lofthouse of Fika Digital
"I write with the audience’s needs in mind. Before I publish a page, I ensure that it addresses some important questions such as, ‘What information can they take away from my site?’ ‘What solutions can I communicate to the reader?’ ‘Is the content clear and simple to understand?’ I use a casual tone, avoid technical words, and get to the point. This way, my target audience will find the content easier and more beneficial to read."
—Ryan Stewart of Webris
"High-converting website copywriting is all about relating to how your consumers are thinking and feeling. Explore their pain points while showcasing your solution, and make sure to use plenty of ‘you’ (the consumer), not ‘we’ (the company), focused words."
—Patrick Casey of Felix
"Online forums are where people share their most significant doubts and ask questions that bother them. Therefore, it's a perfect place to learn about customers' concerns. Then, I can address them in the website copy."
—Leszek Dudkiewicz of Passport Photo Online
"The end goal is to help your client solve a problem, so your writing must be clear and insightful. Don't write just to reach your word count."
—Alexandra Martin of Paymo
"Understanding the topic you're writing about seems simple enough, but many times website content writers don't spend enough time really digging into the subject. I recommend researching the product or service, interviewing SMEs, and learning as much as possible about the subject before sitting down to write."
—Jordan Gruener of Modivcare
"Instead of jumping in and using the best hooks and tactics to write copy, consider what your prospect knows and doesn't know. When you have that information, you can join the conversation that's going on in their head and then lead them to the right place without giving them useless information or making the wrong assumptions."
—Daniel Ndukwu of UsefulPDF
"To publish valuable online copy, you must understand the demand around the topic you want to write about and what the existing content is as well. Type your main keyword on Google to see what it returns so you can analyze those results and produce better content."
—Benjamin Poirrier of Prodima Agency
"Answer your customers’ questions. This data is available from our internal search on the website, keyword tools such as Semrush, and lastly, our customer service team that takes calls from our customers. This way we can provide as much data as possible to make it easy for customers to make the decision to purchase the product."
—Jeff Moriarty of Supplement Warehouse
2 Craft Thoughtful CTAs
"In many cases, writers and marketers have to go back and completely revamp their copy to fit the call-to-action they want the reader to follow. If you write the CTA first, you'll be able to center the rest of your web copy around the intended action you'd like the visitor to take."
—Logan Derrick of Pure Inbound
"The reader will look for a CTA once they have finished reading your information and are prepared to take action. They may come across a ‘Subscribe’ CTA button but choose not to click it. The cause? They are perplexed. They can't tell what they will be subscribing to from the CTA because it isn't explicit enough. The last thing you want is for them to become confused and leave the website, which is most likely what will happen. So be sure you write a clear CTA. In this situation, you might use the CTA ‘Subscribe to our daily email’ to encourage people to take action."
—Joe Troyer of ReviewGrower
Study your CTAs. "Your website CTAs will really bring everything together and help you convert on all of your hard work. Not only should you research and brainstorm your CTAs, but you should track activity, use data to understand your CTAs better, and even bring in experts to weigh in."
—Jonathan Marshall of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall
Keep them wanting more. "Think about the most popular Netflix show you watch, the most viral twitter thread you've seen recently, or a blog that ranks on the first page of google. All these pieces of content embed hooks to keep the user wanting more, whether it's a cliffhanger, a promise of value to come, or the detailed information you've been searching for."
—Phil Strazzulla of SelectSoftware Reviews
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3 Write Straightforward, Clear, And Concise Copy
"Avoid overly complex sentences and word choices when simple writing will do. This will help hold readers’ attention, minimize confusion, and ensure that you get your complete message across."
—Milo Cruz of Freelance Writing Jobs
"Get to the point you're making quickly and don't overwrite. The more you overthink and overwrite your content, the less likely it is that your audience will actively engage with it."
—Rob Greene of Price of Meat
"The point of your website's copy is to persuade people to do something, whether that's buying a product, signing up for a service, or contacting you for more information. So make your case clearly and concisely, using language that anyone can understand."
—Lukee Li of Neutypechic
"Visitors to your website are likely to have limited attention spans, so it's important to make your message clear and easy to understand. Write in short, clear sentences and break up your text with headings and bullet points to make it easy to scan."
—Brandon Wilkes of The Big Phone Store
"Writing concise copy has become more difficult with the suggestion that SEO copy needs to be a certain length to rank well on Google. However, copywriters need to think of their readers. Avoid adding in unnecessary words to boost the count. Be brief to reward readers and algorithms for reading your copy."
—Dominic Lill of Trafiki Ecommerce Marketing
Don't overcomplicate your messaging. "More times than not, the most powerful copy is the simplest. Consumers value their time; content that steals it because it's verbose and filled with jargon can sour their perception of a brand."
—Maria Marchewka of Newswire
Create fluff-free introductions. "All an introduction needs is for you to say what questions you will answer in your piece, and why you are the best person to answer them. All other information is better placed in other parts of your article."
—Oli Baise of Drinky Coffee
Keep paragraphs concise. "Lengthy sentences are dense and difficult to scan. Reviewing a lengthy paragraph will nearly always reveal a spot where it may be divided into two parts. This makes the material easier to comprehend for the user. Start with the information that is most vital to your audience, and then provide more information. This method is known as an inverted pyramid in journalism. By beginning with the conclusion, you allow the user to stop reading at any point and yet retain the page's core idea."
—Bram Jansen of VPNAlert
"When it comes to website copy, less is definitely more. Keep your sentences short and to the point, and only focus on one main message per paragraph. This will make it much easier for your readers to understand and digest your content."
—Stephen Heffernan of The Connected Narrative
"Most people don't read the entire text on your page. Shorter (max five lines) paragraphs make your text easy to skim and improve the deliverability of your message."
—Michal Jonca of PhotoAiD
"Keeping paragraphs short makes it far more likely that people will read through them in their entirety, ensuring you’re delivering your messaging effectively. Large blocks of text are hard to skim, so it’s more likely that someone will only read the first sentence before moving on."
—Logan Mallory of Motivosity
"A lot of times, online material is too extensive and wordy, taking too long to get to the point. Keep it short and sweet since you don't want readers to become bored and give up reading."
—Benjamin Stenson of Norsemen
4 Use Social Proof
"We're experiencing a crisis of trust, and your audience trusts your customers more than they trust you. Make your website copy more credible by weaving in the voice of your customer."
—Joe Kevens of B2B SaaS Reviews
"This principle can be applied in a number of ways, such as featuring customer testimonials or displaying the number of social media followers you have. By incorporating social proof into your website copy, you give potential customers the reassurance they need to make a conversion."
—Tomasz Niezgoda of Surfer
5 Structure The Text Optimally
Create the structure of the text first.
"My #1 copywriting tip is to lay out your text's structure before writing. This way, you can work in small chunks, know what's to come, and decrease the chances of writer's block!"
—Omar Abdalla of Racket Rampage
Make it scannable.
"Make sure people can quickly scan your key headings and subheadings in the article. This gives people the option to either read the full article or skip to sections they find most relevant."
—Lou Haverty of Enhanced Leisure
"Keep your text scannable and easy to understand. Let your audience know what you want to tell them by using short, broken-up sentences, as well as bullet points."
—Mark Ronald of Yes Assistant LLC
"When writing web copy, stay away from large blocks of text. These large blocks of text overwhelm the reader and make it more likely they will find answers elsewhere."
—Savannah Bilbo of Online Optimism
Use plenty of visible, catchy headlines.
"Headings in my long-form content serve as an informal outline of the page, giving readers an overview of the topics for discussion. When writing copy—either for a grilling product, accessory, or recipe—I begin with an introduction of the topic, a list of features that readers should look for, my top recommendations and review, or the benefits of a particular grilled dish. Organically sprinkling the article with headlines in bold and larger fonts contributes to visibility when readers decide to scroll down and scan the web page."
—Michael Haas of Angry BBQ
"Customers' attention spans are dwindling due to an overabundance of content and social media posts. Catchy headlines can help you achieve this; they do not need to be sophisticated or confusing, they must never be difficult to understand."
—Mike Albrecht of Fresha
"Always spend the time to craft an amazing, eye-catching headline. It's the first thing your reader is going to see and will set the tone for all of your copy."
—Mario Cacciottolo of SBO
"In my opinion, we live in a time of diversions. With so much material and social media postings currently available, it might be difficult to attract customer attention. This may be accomplished with the assistance of a captivating headline. It is not necessary for it to be intricate. It should never be difficult to comprehend. Frequently, a mention of the consumer's problem and potential solutions will be effective. Effective words include secret, new, breakthrough, and how to."
—Joe Troyer of DigitalTriggers
"You want to bold your headings so they stand out and catch people’s eye, otherwise they might get skipped over when someone is skimming your site. Bold the headings that are most important for providing information so that customers stop and read them."
—Mark Pierce of Cloud Peak Law Group
Front-load important information.
"You can’t expect customers to buy from you if they don’t know what you have to offer, or why they should buy it. And the best way to get them there is front-loading important information with your copy!"
—Luke Lee of Ever Wallpaper
"You have under 11 seconds to capture visitors' attention on your website, which is why it's so strategic to leverage the space above the fold of your website. By highlighting the greatest benefit of your offer in the hero section, you instantly pique people's curiosity and draw them in to find out how your business can solve their problem."
—Brian Nagele of Restaurant Clicks
"In copywriting, the inverted pyramid is a model used to illustrate the order in which information should be prioritized. The model states that the most crucial information should be displayed first, followed by relevant details and related items. Employing this model as part of your web copywriting strategy should ensure that users can scan your website without missing important details."
—Max Wesman of GoodHire
Highlight important words and phrases.
"When you eliminate jargon and reduce the use of flowery language, readers feel more at ease with your writing. Use text formatting techniques to make significant terms and phrases in a paragraph of copy easier to find, such as bolding or highlighting."
—Ellie Walters of FindPeopleFaster
Start writing your copy with the conclusion.
"When you start with a conclusion, you already have a summary of your product or service in mind. You can use that summary as a reference when writing the rest of your content. You're also more likely to make your message clear and concise because you know exactly what you're selling and why people should buy it."
—David Gu of Neutypechic
Build around the keywords.
"When writing articles, my main focus is to play around the keywords for which we want to rank and build on them. However, it is important to avoid clustering the same words too many times, because, from an SEO perspective, that would be harmful for the content, making it seem low-quality. Instead, try to provide quality content for those respective keywords."
—Marco Genaro Palma of PRLab
6 Get Your Message Across Effectively
"Your website copy should speak directly to your readers. Use a conversational tone in order to better connect with your audience. This is a pretty simple feat to pull off. You can start simply by making use of the personal pronouns, ‘you,’ ‘your,’ and ‘we’ to give your copy a feeling of direct engagement with the reader. Along with this, try to maintain a casual but informative narration. Get across ideas and information while also remaining relaxed and friendly. You don't want your website copy to read like a textbook or an instruction manual—that would garner the least amount of engagement."
—Alex Chavarry of Cool Links
"It's important to convey the voice of the brand you are portraying, to refrain from using your personal tone, and use the vernacular of the company you are representing. What you are writing is a reflection of the company you are writing for more than it is a reflection of you."
—AJ Silberman-Moffitt of Tandem
Write like a human.
"Always keep in mind that the content on your website should speak to your target audience. Consider this copy to be a casual conversation about your goods or service and do your best to be relatable and genuine."
—Max Hauer of Goflow
"Your website copy should be user-friendly so people can easily interact with it. SEO is important, but it’s even more important to know when to stop optimizing and prioritize readability."
—Annie Earnshaw of Clean Origin
"My #1 best practice for website copywriting will always be to write first and optimize later. While keyword placement, formatting, and all the other elements of SEO optimization are important, what matters most is providing content that is unique, valuable, and enjoyable for your reader."
—Keiran Griffiths of 1st On The List
"For me, the #1 best practice for website copywriting is to make it original, personal, and very specific, without using AI tools, as this can make your content distinct and help you rank better from the hundreds of thousands of pages online."
—Phil Strazzulla of SelectSoftware Reviews
Create content that is relevant and engaging.
"This means drafting keyword-rich headlines that accurately reflect the topic of your post, as well as incorporating catchy phrases into your prose. You also need to make use of images and videos when possible, so readers can get a visual representation of what you are discussing."
—Paw Vej of Financer.com Limited
"Headlines, free downloads, case studies, and statistics are great strategies to keep readers interested and on your site longer. Headings help readers to digest your thoughts. Your audience is more likely to stay if your material is more readable. If they see a wall of writing, they may leave. Digital technology has shortened our attention spans. Directing site visitors to fill out a form in exchange for useful resources is a terrific approach to collecting information with their consent so you can send them extra helpful stuff afterwards."
—Jake Cowans of CompanyScouts
Incorporate animation, whitespace, images, graphics, and video.
"Animation has become more important today, and it's also easier than ever to make it happen. Use emojis, avatars, graphics, and other styles of fun imagery to complement your copywriting and make it more appealing. It can make a big difference!"
—Stephan Baldwin of Lead Agent
"Using whitespace, images, and video to enhance your writing is, in my opinion, the ideal way to write for a website's text. Writing compelling website copy does not necessitate prior experience in graphic design. A page's visual and written parts need to be in harmony for your work to be successful. If you have too much text on a page, the reader is likely to become overwhelmed and abandon your content. If you've ever visited a website only to be greeted with a wall of text, you know what I mean. Your website copy will be easier to read if you include white space or padding around blocks of text and graphics. Adding photos and movies to your written content helps to offer more context."
—Joe Troyer of ReviewGrower
"One of the biggest advantages of the website format is that you can utilize images to better explain your copy and capture visitors’ attention. I've used imagery to great success to create powerful copy for my website, and our overall data shows how much our results improved after incorporating images and copy together. In both cases, I like to keep things simple, clean, and straight to the point."
—Ouriel Lemmel of WinIt
Speak the language of your niche consumers.
"Learning and adapting to how this subset market of customers speaks enables you to craft consumer-friendly copy that resonates, whether you're talking about something niche-specific or product technical. And knowing which keywords these visitors search on Google to help them find your site is the easiest way to start."
—Chris Gadek of AdQuick
Call attention to key terms and phrases.
"Using text formatting techniques like bolding or highlighting makes it simple for users to locate important terms or phrases within a paragraph of material. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that if you employ this strategy excessively, it could become distracting and less effective."
—Martin Lassen of Grammarhow
Use statistics to back up your claims.
"Facts and figures clearly illustrate your product's effectiveness by detailing how your solution solves problems, for how many people, and for how long. And sourcing your product data from credible sources such as Consumer Reports and the Pew Research Center will further boost potential customers' confidence in your product and persuade them to take their next step in the buyer journey."
—Maria Shriver of MOSH
Appeal to readers’ emotions.
"In my opinion, good copywriting always appeals to the emotions of the buyer. The content of websites is no exception. The foundation should be facts and data, but emotions drive action. Consider how customers feel about a topic and how the material should affect their emotions. If they are confused, the information should provide clarity; if they are unsatisfied, it should provide a remedy; and if they are bored, it should be engaging."
—Max Whiteside of Breaking Muscle
Focus on the benefits of your product or service.
"Promoting the benefits of your product or service lets readers know what they gain by using it. For example, wireless headphones mean no more tangled cords."
—Jas Banwait Gill of SnackMagic
"In my opinion, the ideal website copywriting strategy is to focus less on features and more on advantages. When a customer is in the consideration stage of their buyer's journey, features play a vital role. During this stage, the narrator has identified their problem and possible remedies and is now weighing the pros and disadvantages of each. They must first be convinced that your solution is superior to the alternatives they are considering. It doesn't matter what features you include if your ideal customers don't grasp how they can benefit from them. Point out the special characteristics of the product you're selling, but don't make them the focus of your copy. Begin by highlighting the benefits that will draw in the right audience, and then discuss the product's characteristics."
—Robert Warner of Virtual Valley
"If content solely lists the benefits of a product or emphasizes its drawbacks, consumers won't read it. The advantages that the consumer will experience should be the main focus. How can they accomplish goals more quickly, better, and more effectively? What can they do to address their issues right away? How may people live more productive lives and days? Remember the proverb, ‘Sell the sizzle, not the steak’? This means that instead of discussing the product, talk on its merits and benefits."
—Kavin Patel of Convrrt
"It's a waste of time for consumers to read material that focuses on the negative or is just a list of product information. There should be a greater emphasis on what the customer stands to gain."
—Dan Close of We Buy Houses in Kentucky
Call attention to key terms and phrases.
"In my opinion, you can make it much simpler for the user to locate important terms and phrases inside a paragraph of copy by making use of text formatting techniques such as bolding or highlighting the text. It is essential that you use this method sparingly, as there is a possibility that it could become distracting and lose some of its utility."
—Alex Savy of ComfyNorth
Be specific about next steps.
"Tell readers exact steps they should take next, use specific numbers when you can, and back up your claims with data. Specificity reduces buyer confusion, gains reader trust, and leads to higher conversion rates."
—Devin Schumacher of SERP
"Internal links are a terrific technique to encourage site visitors to explore more pages. These links might give more information on topics relevant to your article. Occasionally, external connections to reputable sites also reflect a desire to assist customers in locating information. Search engines utilize the presence of links in online content as a ranking element, which is an additional benefit of linking. However, keep in mind there shouldn't be too many connections. This may force visitors to leave the website before absorbing your communication."
—Scott O'Brien of PPC Ad Lab
Get a second opinion.
"The best tip for any copywriter is to get someone else to read your work for you. If they read it aloud and it doesn’t have the tone or voice that you tried to give it, then you need to edit your work. It can also be a great way for someone to spot mistakes you may have made."
—Jessica Vine of RV Idiots
Read your copy out loud.
"Read your writing out loud. It catches typos, but more importantly lets you get a feel for what your brand tone sounds like when your ideal client is reading it in their head."
—Lucy Bedewi of My Write Hand Woman
Always test everything!
"A/B tests are designed to check different headlines, calls to action, and even small phrases to see which ones convert the best. That'll help you tweak your website's copy until it's as effective as possible."
—David Lee of Inyouths LED Mirrors
Got more copywriting best practices?
Let us know—we’d love to add your tip to the list!
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