Fresh, relevant content is a must for boosting your search rankings and growing your online presence. That means blogs, articles and Web page copy… just to name a few. And for some, that can seem a little daunting.
So here’s a Web copywriting tip that will make things a lot easier, for both pros and newbies alike. In fact, it’s the best tip I’ve come across in all my years of Web copywriting.
And it is…
Read your writing out loud!
Okay, I know it sounds weird. Most of us don’t read out loud once we get out of school, unless it’s reading a story to kids. But trust me on this. Here are some Web copywriting mistakes that reading out loud will catch:
1. Sentences of Epic Proportions
Two of the most common Web copywriting issues I come across are:
a) run-on sentences
b) sentences that – while not technically run-ons – are too long to make sense to the average reader.
When you have great ideas to share, it’s tempting to pack as much as you can in one sentence. But this doesn’t work for Web content. People tend to skim online rather than reading carefully, like they might with a book.
Nothing exposes an overlong or run-on sentence like reading out loud. If you lose the train of thought in the middle or realize you’ve been talking forever, your sentence is too long. There’s also the breath test. If you need to breathe in the middle of a sentence, it should be split up. Simple as that.
2. Awkward Sentence Situations
Awkward sentence flow is another common copywriting misstep. It could be a transition of ideas that doesn’t work, or an expression that doesn’t fit. Incorrect punctuation could be the culprit. But these problems tend to get overlooked when proofreading because you, as the writer, understand the overall idea of the sentence.
Reading out loud shines a spotlight on awkward sentences. If you suddenly can’t figure out the transition to the next thought – or if it sounds jarring – you know an adjustment is needed. You might need to fix the punctuation… but more likely you need to split the sentence up.
3. Those Elusive Typos
Have you ever proofread something a dozen times and thought it was perfect, only to find a typo months later? Yep, it happens to all of us. Typos like repeated words and transposed letters are the worst offenders. But how does this happen with such careful proofreading? Chalk it up to your brain’s very own “autocorrect.” Our brains know what we expect to see and, to save us time and effort, skip right over these mistakes.
The best way to avoid these typos is to have someone else proofread your work. Unfortunately, you might not have that luxury if you’re on a deadline. Or maybe you want to check your work before sending it to that second set of eyes… especially if those eyes belong to your client or boss.
Reading out loud is the next best thing. It forces you to use a different part of your brain, and process the words a bit more. Just don’t rush it. Read deliberately at a moderate pace, and you’re more likely to find those tricky typos.
So there you have it! The next time you’re writing for your blog or Website, read your content out loud before you hit the “publish” button. Will you feel silly at first? Will there be snickering around the office? Maybe. But it’s okay. He (or she) who has just written awesome Web content, laughs last.