Hallmarks of a good copywriter
Copywriters are wordsmiths who are able to research a topic from scratch and incorporate and expand upon client feedback. They write material that can be used to populate the pages of your website. Copywriters are experienced in writing for the web. They are aware of the best practice techniques such as consideration of audience, and ensuring the page is structured well into digestible chunks of information suited for the reading style of web use. They are also familiar with the basic requirements of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in terms of content length, keywords, etc.
A good copywriter is able to explain medical conditions, treatments and procedures in written format – in a way that is geared to those people who are likely to visit your website. They are able to synthesise information from the you (the client) and from multiple reliable sources on the web to create original content that is free of jargon, and easily readable and understandable.
Writing for the web
Copywriting for websites is a little different to other types of copywriting in a number of ways. Primarily this is because of the behaviour of readers on the web.
Understand your audience
Eye tracking studies have conclusively proved that in many circumstances web pages are “scanned” not read word for word. This behaviour does change when the page of interest is actually identified, but scanning behaviour is still the default behaviour. Thus, even “long form” copy should be structured in a way that accounts for this behaviour. As most readers are probably not coming to your website with the intention of long reading sessions for entertainment, traditional long form writing structures (originating from printed works) are not ideal.
It’s important that correct medical terms are preferentially used (particularly for page names) – note that layman’s terms may also be included to assist readers and the ability to identify the topic via search.
Create well structured text
It is important that the text is structured in an accessible way. Text for the web needs to be presented in shorter sentences and split into smaller paragraphs than is normal in other types of writing.
Importantly, information must be appropriately structured with the appropriate use of headings. This includes the use of H1, H2, H3 (and so on) to produce logical hierarchy of information within the page itself. This combined with good typographical styling of text improves comprehensibility of the text, and supports “scanning” behaviour. This structuring also assists readers by reducing cognitive load – it also assists search engines like Google to extract information about the meaning of a document.
The use of properly written bullet points to create bite sized sections of content is also beneficial. Bullets need to be used judiciously, as it’s easy to go overboard.
Appropriately descriptive hyperlink text assists both sighted and unsighted readers. Terms such as “click here” should be avoided, links should describe the intent / result / destination of the link.
Ensure unique page content
It is critical that any wording on your website is original and unique, to ensure good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). If Google detects that any copy has simply been ‘duplicated’ from another website, it may penalise the ranking of the page or site. Duplicate content is an issue when comparing sites, but also when comparing pages within your own website. Good quality unique content is where you add value – your readers (and Google) will appreciate you for it.
All of these best practices assist human readers and are likely also assessed by search engine algorithms to determine the quality of the page and thereby the ranking within a search result.