As anyone who makes any part of their living by writing will tell you, it’s imperative that you write for your intended audience. You wouldn’t write at a doctoral level for a children’s book, and you wouldn’t leave out industry-specific terminology in a technical manual. Website copy is no different, only there is a twist. You’re not only writing for your intended audience, but you’re also writing for Google.
As with all other aspects of Internet life, Google has published a style guide, outlining their preferred copy parameters. The actual guide is quite extensive but we’re going to cover some of the highlights so that you can craft web copy that is both user-friendly and Google friendly.
A Quick List of Google Preferences
Here are 9 key takeaways from the Google Developer Documentation Style Guide. While writing is an art form and a personal one, keeping these points in mind will make your copy more Google friendly.
- Accessibility – Write in a conversational and friendly tone, without a lot of excess fluff. Get to the point.
- The Oxford Comma – Google likes serial commas. A sentence that has a series should look like this – “I like hockey, football, and baseball” not “I like hockey, football and baseball.”
- Bullet Points – Users and Google both like bullet points when creating a list.
- Spaces Between Sentences – According to Google, leave just one space between sentences.
- Numbers – Instead of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, write them out instead. Google also recommends against starting a sentence with a number and advises restructuring the sentence.
- Date and time – Use the 12-hour clock, not the 24-hour clock, except when 24 hour is necessary. Hyphenate time ranges. Example – It takes 25-30 minutes to cook chicken.
- Abbreviations – Google recommends spelling out a term if it’s likely that the audience will be unfamiliar with it. They also recommend avoiding internet slang such as tl:dr and RTFM. Don’t use periods when using abbreviations for state names or acronyms.
- Plurals in Parentheses – Don’t put optional plural in parentheses. Try to use plural or singular constructions instead.
- Active voice – In general, you should use an active voice instead of a passive voice. Write as though someone is performing an action, not that they performed the action.
Writing good site copy is critical to your website’s overall success. You want to make sure that your copy is on point in every way. Making sure that it’s Google-friendly as well as user-friendly is another way that you can help your overall site’s visibility. If you need new copy for your website, be sure to contact the team at Efferent Media today so that we can craft that perfect message.