You cannot create a website and expect people to find it, nor can you update it only once or twice a year. Some people think that once their website is on the www and they have their URL on their business cards, “Google” will just help people find them. Not so.


A good website is an expensive investment, but it is one of your best marketing vehicles. So you need to remember that it is organic; just like a plant, it needs constant nurturing and attention in order to “grow and bloom”.

The written words on a website are crucial to its success

“The words on a website are the most important single element on the site because the content is the reason users are visiting the site in the first place,” says usability expert Jakob Nielsen. “Other elements are important too but the words carry the vast proportion of the communicative value of the web. If the content is no good, users quickly abandon a site and never return.”

Here are 20 quick pointers to get you started on writing content for your home page (landing page).

    • Choose the tone that suits your target market. Online readers expect a personal, upbeat tone in web writing, regardless of whether you are a law firm or an online florist. Readers find stiff, academic, bureaucratic writing so inappropriate that they may simply click away from your site. Write in a friendly, conversational way, as if you were explaining what you do to a friend.
    • Remove all jargon (technical terms relating to your business) from your web copy.
    • Write in the active voice rather than the passive voice. E.g. “We provide these services”… is better than “These are the services provided by us”….
    • Keywords. Keywords. Keywords. No reader will find your website if the keywords they use to search in Google do not appear on your website. The neighbourhoods in which you work, the exact work you do and the relevant names and contact details of you and your staff need to appear in the copy, in the headings and sub-headings. An excellent tool you can use to find keywords is wordtracker. For example, if you are an accounting firm in a city, name the city, the surrounding suburbs, as well as keywords such as “accounting”; “accounting and tax services”; “book-keeping”, etc.
    • Place the most important content first on the page – in short, simple sentences. Aim for around 300 words per page.


    • Use headings and sub-headings to break up paragraphs. Make sure these headings are rich in keywords people use to find your website. Remember to use an online tool to help you search for keywords.
    • Use short words instead of long words (E.g., use ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’ and use ‘so’ instead of ‘accordingly’).
    • Delete extra words that don’t add meaning. These can include: actually, really, very, certainly, indeed, currently.
    • Replace phrases with words where possible. Use ‘although’ instead of ‘despite the fact that’ and ‘usually’ in place of ‘in most cases’.
    • Choose words precisely and creatively. Don’t say something is good. Is it delicious, beautiful, exciting, efficient?
    • Don’t use phrases that spring to mind too readily. Clichés are boring and lack impact. Check your writing keyword by keyword at the cliche finder.
    • It’s easier to understand positive statements than negative statements and they’re usually shorter. For example, rewrite “he did not have much confidence in the government” as “he distrusted the government”.
    • Vary the length of sentences, but keep them short.
    • Be specific. Visitors will lose their patience if you use hype like “money saving” and “fast” without justifying them with facts and figures.


  • Don’t use small fonts. Small fonts are good for non-crucial information, explanations that aren’t always needed, copyright notices and such. Not for actual type, so stay away from it. I always think if you can put it in a small font why bother to put it there at all?
  • Use high contrast. Light grey on white might look classy, but you can’t read lots of text that way. Almost black on white, or almost white on black (although lots of people have issues with this) is the way to go. I personally am pretty much traditional there – I like black type on a white background, but I keep on getting clients who don’t want that so I struggle with my inner demons and compromise as long as it is high contrast and easily readable.
  • Have decent line height. The default line height is way too small, adding extra space between the lines will make the type easier to read. How much is debatable, but 150% is a good starting point at least. You know there is plenty of space on the web, and you can link articles, so it isn’t necessary to cram everything into one page.
  • Add white space. Don’t squash it all together, be it sidebars, logos or other elements. Your content needs space, and that includes space between it and other parts of the design. Let it breathe. And allow your readers eyes to have an easy journey over the page.
  • Use images. These additions to longer pieces will give the reader some breathing space, and will maJournalists use smart phone Appske them look better. Looking better makes them easier to read. At the same time, don’t over-design. Just have a clear, simple and intuitive design with everything in the places where your readers expect them to be, named what your readers would expect them to be named.
  • Link your Business Facebook page and Twitter page to your website, and make each page on your website shareable, using add-ons for social media sharing.


We offer Web Writing Courses at The Writers College (SA Writers College, NZ Writers College and UK Writers College). Contact us for free advice about the best web writing course for you.