When it comes to website copy, there’s an awful lot of focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but is that all there is to writing good website copy?
I think not.
While SEO is an important consideration for building your Google ranking, you must never lose sight of the fact that your prospective customers are not search engines, but real people.
By all means, include important keywords which will help increase your visibility, but don’t sacrifice engaging, informative copy in the quest for that elusive ‘Number 1’ ranking.
When all is said and done, copy that’s well written and appeals to both search engines and people will perform much better than copy aimed in one direction only.
So what are some of the tricks for writing winning website copy?
1. Use the KISS theory (Keep It Simple Stupid)
I’m sure you’re familiar with websites which are filled with nonsensical phrasing and complicated language which makes you want to stick a fork in your eyes – eg:
EVA* is a management philosophy and performance metric that elevates those goals from intuition to rigorous analysis and ensures that no investment escapes scrutiny.
How are people going to engage with you if they can’t understand what you’re talking about?
If you don’t want to send your prospective customers running for the cutlery drawer (let alone your competition), then keep your language simple.
2. Avoid unnecessary jargon and acronyms
Hand-in-hand with complicated language, you’re likely to find more acronyms and jargon than you can poke a stick at.
Used correctly and in the right context, jargon and acronyms can work rather well. If, for instance, your target audience are specialists in a particular field, using industry jargon and terminology will demonstrate your understanding of the topic and build rapport and trust.
Used incorrectly, you once again face the problem of people having no idea what you are talking about, which will effectively alienate them and send them elsewhere.
If you need to reach a diverse audience, then avoid the gobbledy-gook and keep your language simple. If you feel you absolutely must use jargon and acronyms, then at least include a glossary of terms, or provide an explanation in parentheses (brackets) to avoid any confusion.
3. Be smart with your keywords
Google provides some great analytic tools to help you find the best keywords for your business and obviously you need to have these words sprinkled throughout your copy.
For maximum optimisation, it is recommended you use your keywords in your title and your opening and closing paragraphs, as well as within the main body of your text, depending on its length.
But don’t go just throwing these words in willy-nilly. You also need to make sure they read well and fit in with what you are saying.
Remember – you’re not just writing for search engines, you’re writing for real people.
4. Make your copy easy to read
This goes beyond the actual content of your copy, to how you lay it out and present it.
Headers and sub-headers make it easier for your audience to scan and get an understanding of what you are talking about without them needing to read every single word. Good headers should, however, make your audience want to continue reading every word.
Plenty of paragraph breaks also make your text easier to read. I’m sure we’ve all struggled at some point with large blocks of text that just go on and on an on… Not only is it tedious to read, it’s also very difficult to keep track of where you are.
Get happy with the ‘enter’ key people!
For more tips on how to make your layout easier to read, check out From Dazzle to Death – Five Fatal Web Content Flaws.
5. Stop talking about yourself!
OK, you might be thinking I’ve lost the plot here – isn’t the idea to tell people what you do? The truth is, people are invariably more interested in themselves than you, which is why you need to stop talking about yourself and instead start talking about your audience.
People will look for your product or service, not because they want to find out more about you, but because they have a need or a want of their own to be fulfilled.
So, rather than banging on about your corporate values, or what year your business was established, demonstrate to your audience that you understand their needs and have the solution they are looking for.
Always write from the customers’ point of view, which is ‘what’s in it for me?’
6. Include a call to action
Potential customers have come to your site. Now what?
Obviously you don’t want them to leave, so the best way to convert your website traffic is to ensure you include a ‘call to action’ on every page.
This can be as simple as asking people to call for more information, sign up for your newsletter, take advantage of a limited offer, or partake in a free trial of your product or service.
The aim is to give a reason for your visitor to become a customer.
So yes, SEO is an important element to your website copy, but always remember you are writing for people, who need to be informed, understood, entertained and engaged.
* Oh… EVA stands for ‘Economic Value-Added’ by the way … not that it helps!