The Write Stuff – Blog

Jul 09 2011 6 Steps to Make Your Website Copy Sizzle
Copywriting techniques

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.

Huh..?

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!

10 Responses to “6 Steps to Make Your Website Copy Sizzle”

  • Reply Paul Hassing July 11, 2011at 11:02 am

    Ripper post, Anna. (Wish I’d written it!) You speak the truth and it rocks. Best regards, P. 🙂

    • Reply Anna Butler July 11, 2011at 11:10 am

      Thanks for the kind comments Paul, I often find myself thinking the same of your blog posts 🙂

  • Reply Daniel | Propaganda House July 11, 2011at 11:18 am

    Great post Anna! Really useful and practical tips here.

    I actually read a post last week about the latest google algorithm update which is now placing even higher emphasis on quality of content over quantity i.e. even if a site only has one article mentioning certain keywords, if it has a lot of shares, quality links etc, it will outrank a site which has hundreds of articles mentioning the keywords.

    Effectively, writing for your audience IS writing for the search engines now!

    Cheers
    Dan

    • Reply Anna Butler July 11, 2011at 11:27 am

      Thanks for the positive feedback and comments Dan.

      And you’re right. Well written, original content is certainly becoming a critical factor to the success of a website’s Google ranking. I recently commented on this in an interview with Internet Marketing Adelaide.

      Hope you find some of my other articles just as useful.

      Cheers,
      Anna 🙂

  • Reply Adrian Brien Auto March 01, 2012at 9:57 am

    It’s important to put the spot light on your customers 🙂

    • Reply Anna Butler March 01, 2012at 3:23 pm

      Absolutely – without them, you don’t have a business, so it pays to make their lives as easy as possible 🙂

  • Reply Belinda Weaver August 15, 2012at 10:19 am

    Excellent post Anna. It’s like the must have checklist for any copywriting!

    • Reply Anna Butler August 15, 2012at 10:33 am

      Why thank you Belinda… a compliment indeed from a talented gal like yourself 🙂

  • Reply Bridie Jenner August 15, 2012at 12:03 pm

    Great tips Anna!

    I also think taking time to research what your competitors are doing and making yourself that little bit different helps. I recently had some amazing feedback from a new client who said the reason he chose me above the thousands of other transcription services out there was because my website, branding and copy stood out from all the rest.

    • Reply Anna Butler August 15, 2012at 1:26 pm

      Great tip Bridie and thanks for taking the time to comment. And how great to get such helpful feedback from your client – clearly you’re checking all the right boxes 🙂

      I’ll be posting a new blog on USPs (Unique Sales Propositions) very soon.

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