The old adage that first impressions are everything rings true in many areas of business, especially regarding your business’s website. Research concludes that Web users decide within ten seconds whether to continue reading a page or to move on.

That means your business’s website has ten seconds to clearly communicate its value to your readers. A big part of that communication is the text (also called copy) on your site. To develop effective copy, follow these tips:

Know your audience

Writing effective Web copy first requires that you have a clear understanding of who you want to have reading your site. What do they look like? How do they behave? What are their beliefs?

Build a profile of your ideal reader and know what makes them tick. After you have determined this, start writing what your audience likes to read.

Communicate benefits instead of features

If your ideal readers are potential customers (as they are for many businesses), they are interested in something specific. This can be something that alleviates a pain or something that prevents that pain in the first place.

Rather than listing features and specifications, tell the reader how your offering alleviates or prevents the pain they are experiencing. How can it make them healthier, happier or more efficient? How can it help reduce costs or increase sales? Which hassles does it help to avoid? Communicate these benefits on your site.

Less is more, said the eighth-grader

Nothing will scare away readers faster than long-winded rants and never-ending paragraphs.

Your readers shouldn’t have to do any vertical scrolling on your home page (with the exception of single-page mobile device-optimized sites). If they must scroll, keep your most important information above the fold (the part of the page that is visible without scrolling). Copy on your site should be short and to the point. Use bullet points and short paragraphs. Write clearly and avoid jargon. If you can remove an adjective from a sentence without changing the sentence’s meaning, do it.

Find a nearby eighth-grader who knows nothing of your business and ask them to view your website. What did they learn from your site? Did they understand it? If not, rewrite it.

Treat every page as if it is a landing page

What is a landing page? It is any page that a reader sees when they first come to your site. Because readers may be coming to your site by clicking on search results, they could be entering your site on any of your pages (and not just your home page).

Therefore, make sure every page on your site is easy to scan, tells the reader where in your site they currently are and includes a call to action telling them what to do next, such as signing up for your email list, requesting a quote or reading a product description.

Share your story

You are passionate about your business. You worked hard to get it to where it is today. There were failures and successes. These experiences and thoughts are the foundation of your story. Have you learned how to share it?

Tell your story in a way that is genuine and relatable. A well told story will connect your readers to your business and make them remember it. While this is important for small businesses, most readers will not be looking for your story first. Put your story on a separate page or, if it must be on the home page, put it below the fold.

Anderson, J. (2014, June 16). Five tips for developing effective copy for your websiteBusiness in Savannah. Retrieved from