Formatting Website Copy


Want Users to Read Your Content? Tough.

Remember that search you did 5 minutes ago? Not the search phrase – the results. No? That’s what I thought. Most people don’t read the search results. Well, at least not all the way through the headlines and the descriptions. ‘Reading’ the search results usually goes something like this:(Inside user’s head) “Ok, here are my results… first headline has my search phrase…ok, click…no, this doesn’t look right….ok, back…scan the headline for the second result…wait, there’s something similar to my search phrase!…ok, click…yeah – this looks about right…” So hopefully you got the idea by now. This 3-5 second flurry of scanning and clicking is endemic with web users – and not just for search results pages. This happens on just about every website in existence.

Formatting Content for Easy Scanning

How can you get people to slow down and take the time to read from the top? You can’t. Users will digest your content however they feel is easiest. And usually that means scanning, finding only what they need, reading only what they need, and then on to the next task. So then the question is – how can you help them scan? Start by breaking up your copy into sections. For example: – What the product/service is – What your company’s capabilities are related to that product/service – How the user would benefit from using your version of the product/service Usually that’s how it goes. Although with any topic or page you should be writing it based on what questions your customers would have. Do they need some extra information about what the product is or why they need it? Perhaps they just need to know which brands of the product you supply. Maybe they need to know which industries your company services. Or maybe they need to know that you have the experts on staff to provide a great service.

Prioritize Your Sections of Content

Your page’s copy should flow in a logical way, but try to have what’s most important to your customers toward the top. If there are very few customers who care about your years of experience, maybe you should leave that towards the end of the page, rather than having it take precedence over information that’s more important to your users.

Use Keywords in Your Headers

Once you’ve split apart your content and prioritized it, do at least the minimal amount of keyword research to see whether certain keywords would be better suited (more traffic, less competition, etc.) for your headers than others. Keep in mind too that Google uses your page’s headers as a way of prioritizing your content, so keep your most important keywords towards the top of the page and embedded in your first, or at the very least, second header. The sooner you can provide content that’s neatly broken out into sections with clear, concise headlines above each, the sooner your users will be calling or emailing you to continue what they’ve started on your website.