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Website copywriting - Linking you to your customers

01 Dec 2010

If eyes are windows to the soul, then your website is a window to your business. For many businesses, their website has become a virtual shop floor designed to showcase their wares and attract new customers. The perceptions someone has of your business can often be formed purely by the click of a mouse – without even having left the couch. So, just as in the real world you keep your shelves neatly stacked, products accurately labeled and staff behaving professionally, it is critical your site portrays the image you want – there is nothing worse for your business’s image than a website riddled with spelling mistakes. I’ll never forget the time I visited the website of a business I was considering working for. The wording was scant and bland, and to emphasise a point they highlighted an important word in large font and capital letters – it was misspelled. This business may have been great at what it did, but its website suggested otherwise. Scannable copyWhen people visit a website they want information fast. Did you know the average website visitor only reads 20% of the words? Also, if they aren’t engaged within five seconds they’re likely to tune out? It’s true. For these reasons it is imperative the copy on your page is scannable, to enable readers to find what they’re looking for quickly. Here are some tips for scannable copy:

  • Create a Visual Hierarchy. Do this by highlighting important words with colour or different fonts. An example could be: "We provide a professional Editing Service to our clients.” If your visitor is looking for editing services, they’ll find the relevant information easily. Unless you know what you’re doing, I recommend you employ a good web designer.
  • Keep Copy Concise. Writing for the web is different to writing for print. The amount of words required is much less. However, pages with too few words often don’t come up in first result searches, so aim for at least 250. Stick to one idea per paragraph and break down each paragraph into an Introduction, Body and Conclusion.
  • Bullet Points. Using bullets points is an effective way to break information into bite-sized chunks, increasing scannability.
Search engine optimisationIn addition to writing engaging, easy-to-read copy, the role of a good copywriter is to intertwine relevant key words into the text. The aim is to increase traffic to your site by utilising words people use when searching for your type of business with search engines like Google. However, there is a fine balance between ensuring all the keywords are included while not being bland and repetitive. To determine the appropriate keywords, you need to do research. Think of words or phrases relevant to your industry, and use a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Selection Tool (tinyurl.com/2fu9n5o). This will indicate how many times a certain word or phrase is searched over a given period of time.   Think about your customersToday’s consumers are becoming increasingly sceptical of ‘marketing speak’ and hate to be patronised. Step into your customers’ shoes and consider how you would talk to them face to face. Think of the questions they may have and address them in your copy:
  • Can I trust these people?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Who is behind this company?
  • What kind of people will I be buying from?
  • What does this company stand for?
Any backyard operation can have a website, so it is important you’re perceived as a trustworthy, legitimate business. Including staff profiles shows a human face and reminds visitors they are dealing with real people. The competence of your staff can be demonstrated by listing their qualifications and achievements. Use your company profile to explain why you’re in business, what drives you and what your values are. Highlight your achievements to date and goals for the future. The inclusion of awards and testimonials is an effective way to show you’re the real deal.

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