Many of my clients already have a lot of good content on their sites, but it’s in dire need of what I call “punching up.” Typos, misspellings, and clunky copy can make you look unprofessional and cause customers to abandon your site—and your business.
Here are seven super quick ways you can polish your existing copy and improve your messaging:
- Read it out loud SLOWLY.
When reading copy, particularly content that you wrote yourself, your brain will automatically fix mistakes or fill in missing words. When you slowly read your message out loud, it forces your brain to see those mistakes.
You may also find that your messaging seemed fine when you typed it out, but when spoken out loud, it doesn’t quite have the effect you’re looking for. You can strengthen your content by letting your eyes and ears work together.
- Spellcheck and grammar check.
Many blogging and web programs allow you to type directly onto the site, which is convenient, but also dangerous. Generally, the built-in grammar and spell check tools aren’t that great, so you run the risk of making a lot of mistakes.
Cut and paste each page of content into Microsoft Word and look for all those little red and green squiggles underneath the words. Fix all your mistakes, and then paste the copy back into your site.
An online tool that I’m a big fan of is Grammarly. This awesome Chrome plugin checks everything you write online—even email!—and offers fixes for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage.
- Insert hard returns.
Big, blocky paragraphs are a nightmare to read. The eye has a difficult time moving from line to line, and rather than use their finger or mouse cursor to help guide their eyes down the page, your readers will just abandon ship and look for a site with text that’s easier to read.
If your paragraphs are longer than 4 lines on the screen, insert a hard return after every 2 or 3 sentences to break them up.
It’s okay if there’s only one sentence on the line, I promise. (ßSee?!)
- Make bulleted or numbered lists.
Along the same lines as tip #3, if you have a long list of items or benefits, separate them with bullets or numbers to make it easier for your reader’s eye to digest the information.
If your list items are quite long, bold the first part of the sentence to help it stand out.
- Roses are red. Red roses are a symbol of love and affection.
- Violets are blue. Another symbol of love and affection, violets also symbolize wisdom, humility, and faithfulness.
- Sugar is sweet. Chocolates and candies are often given to loved ones on holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day.
- Put keywords into H1 tags.
Header tags, which come across as <h1> in HTML, define the headings on your site. When search engines, like Google, scan the copy on your site, the header tags tell it that those words are important and gives them greater weight in search results.
In addition to using those HTML tags for your headlines (which most website programs, like WordPress, do automatically for you when typing in a headline), make sure your headlines contain your keywords too.
For example, if you have a page detailing your carpet cleaning services, the following headline doesn’t tell Google (or your readers) what the body content is really about:
Clean, Soft, and Fluffy!
Instead, try this:
Professional Carpet Cleaning Services for Happyville, USA
You can find more tips for how to write great headlines here.
- Get rid of the passive voice.
“Passive voice” is the term to describe the use of words like were, was, is, had, and will be. Instead of using active, direct verbs, passive voices uses a lot of “were —ing” descriptions, which makes the message sound weaker.
You can strengthen the copy on your website by substituting stronger verbs.
Take a look at the following example. I’ve underlined the passive voice phrases and provided a stronger alternative:
Weak: Our team has been professionally trained and will be using high-quality tools and equipment to get your carpet clean.
Strong: Our fully trained team of professionals uses high-quality tools and equipment to get your carpet clean.
That being said, not all passive voice needs to be removed. Some phrases, like “ABC Cleaning is family owned and operated and has served Happyville, USA for 15 years,” work just fine in the passive voice. In general, however, if you can improve it, you should.
- Substitute adverbs for stronger verbs.
Adverbs are those “ly” words that we use to better describe a verb. The best writers tend to avoid “ly” words as much as possible.
It’s not that adverbs are “bad,” per se, but you can boost the effectiveness of your writing by substituting “ly” words for stronger verbs and descriptions that paint a better picture in your reader’s mind.
|He ran really fast.||He sprinted.|
|She gently held the kitten.||She cradled the kitten.|
|We thoroughly clean carpet.||We clean carpet from wall to wall, corner to corner, and never miss an inch.|
Press CTRL+F on your keyboard and search for “ly” in your content. Anywhere those adverbs pop up, try and think of a better way to describe the action.
Still need more help? Hire a professional! Contact me and tell me about your writing needs. I’d love to write informative persuasive content for your website and printed materials.