One of the most common projects I work on is either creating or revising web copy.
Web copy helps market a business in so many ways. It’s like a sandwich-board sign placed in front of your store, enticing those passing by to slow down and take a look.
Web copy is supposed to engage your website visitor. It’s also to let him know this site has something worth looking at, something that will help solve his problem.
Business problems usually fall into three categories:
- A need to increase revenue
- A need to decrease costs
- A need to build customer loyalty
If you want to get new business from your website, you want copy that will focus on one of those business drivers (increase revenue, decrease costs, build customer loyalty).
Common Web Copy Mistakes
Choosing one business driver will serve as the foundation for the rest of your site. There have been many times I’ve looked at a business website and couldn’t figure out how their product or solution could help another business. If a website visitor can’t figure it out in less than a minute, they’ll likely be gone.
The five most common web copy blunders I see:
- Bland copy that doesn’t highlight a unique selling proposition
- Copy that focuses exclusively on the business instead of the buyer’s need
- Copy that is stiff, overly formal or uses complicated language
- Old, stale copy that hasn’t been updated in two years
- Copy that isn’t scannable
We’ve already talked about the importance of a unique selling proposition in past issues (see my blog post “3 Questions Your Business Must Answer For Effective Copywriting”). That is what every business needs to decide upon before moving forward with the copy.
Call to Action
The next question should be: What do I want my visitor to do?
Whenever you create copy for a website page or landing page, remember you want your visitor to do something.
A call to action is exactly that: a request to take action. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Schedule a demo? Download a white paper? Whatever it is, your copy needs to lead that visitor on a journey toward that destination.
Every page should have a goal and it should be clear what that goal is. For instance:
- If you want your reader to click an order button, everything you write should guide her to that end
- If you want him to sign up for an e-newsletter, then ensure a simple sign-up form is available
- If you want him to sign up for a demo or a webinar, make that the aim
The trick is to ask your reader to take action. It’s amazing how many websites forget this simple rule. Sales professionals will tell you that you have to ask for the sale. The same is true for a web page. You have to ask your visitor to complete an action and you need to make it simple and easy.
This involves both copy and design. If a sign-up form is located at the very bottom of a web page and uses small fonts, there’s a very good chance the form will be overlooked. You need to be bold when asking for action and that includes using powerful design elements such as color, placement and size.
You have no idea how good it felt to say that!
SEO may not be totally dead but it is undergoing a transformation. As Bob Dylan famously said, “The times they are a-changin’.”
Forget about plugging in keywords and key phrases in specific areas. Google now penalizes sites that have too many keywords and key phrases.
Marketers have been scrambling to figure out how to optimize their sites and are slowly coming to this conclusion: SEO doesn’t matter as much as having solid, valuable content dished up on a regular basis.
So my advice to you is the same. Don’t worry so much about whether your web copy has the right amount of keywords and key phrases. Instead, focus on delivering great content to your website visitor.
Look at your website and ask yourself if it’s doing what you want it to do. Remember, a website is never “finished.” You need to update it on a regular basis to keep it fresh and appealing. Your visitor expects nothing less.