Website copywriting matters.
Your website copy REALLY matters.
‘Why?’ I hear you ask.
It matters because your business website is the only digital asset you truly own and have control over, making it the single most important online platform you have. Think about that one for a second.
While social media is a key part of an effective content marketing strategy, it involves using another organization’s platform, which means you’ll always be playing by their rules.
In contrast, your website is 100% yours to bend to your will, and a killer site will attract traffic, convert prospects, and keep your customers coming back.
That being said, not all websites are created equal.
There is a real correlation between the success of a business and the effectiveness of its website, particularly the traffic it generates.
In one study by Hubspot, the majority of companies exceeding their revenue goals had more than 10,000 visitors per month to their website. In comparison, 80% of companies not reaching their revenue goals had less than 10,000 visitors.
And you can bet your bottom dollar those visitors weren’t going to the websites by accident. They happened to be there because of great website content.
Why & How Website Content Is The Great Differentiator
We know from experience that website copy, and high-quality content at that, can be what sets a brand apart from its competitors.
Don’t take our word for it, though.
More than 70% of marketers rate relevant content as their most effective way of obtaining website traffic, with content marketing generating three times as many leads as outbound marketing, and costing 62% less.More than 70% of marketers rate relevant content as their most effective path to site traffic, with content marketing bringing in 3x as many leads as outbound marketing & costing 62% less. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet
What’s more, small business websites that have blogs experience 126% more lead growth than businesses without, and B2B companies with a blog generate 67% more leads per month than companies that don’t have one.
Not Just Any Old Content Will Do
Like any other product or service, quality matters when it comes to website content.
A recent UK study revealed that 59% of people wouldn’t use a company that had glaring grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website. In addition to this, a whopping 82% of people said they’d be put off by a website that featured content poorly translated into English.
The scary thing is that poor website copywriting, instead of generating sales, can actually cost your business.
Poor quality content can actually turn away customers and create additional costs for your business.
Writing expert and author Josh Bernoff says poor writing costs U.S. businesses $400 billion every year.
He names websites and marketing materials as the worst offenders, pointing the finger at lack of clarity, overuse of jargon and poor structure.
Bernoff attributes the massive cost to the time that is wasted correcting and attempting to interpret poor writing.
This figure doesn’t take into account other expected costs to business in terms of lost leads, sales, and reputation.Did you know? Poor writing costs U.S. businesses $400 billion dollars every year. Read more: Click To Tweet
Using poorly written content on your site can also have a significant effect on how Google ranks your site and your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
People Don’t Read Your Content
So, here’s the thing.
You may go to the trouble of crafting what you think is beautifully written content, but people aren’t going to ‘read’ it no matter how good it is.
Numerous studies confirm what we already know. We don’t typically read much of the content we see.
We scan or skim it.
I do it. You do it. And so do your website visitors.
Our average attention span is just 8.25 seconds – that’s one second less than a goldfish!
We read at most only 28% of the words on an average web page – 20% is believed to be closer to the truth.
So every single one of your words has to count.
Reduce your content to the smallest number of relevant, and necessary, words possible without sounding stilted.
10 Website Copywriting Secrets to Win More Sales & ROI from Your Online Presence
Want more in-depth tips? Check out my 365-page book on Practical Content Strategy & Marketing. You’ll learn the entire strategy for great web content. Bonus: Module/Section 5 is completely devoted to creation techniques – called Practical Content Creation!
Creating effective website copy is an art.
This is why many businesses turn to professional copywriting services or someone who specializes in online copywriting.
Whether you hire website copywriters or decide to go at it alone, it helps to know the factors and qualities of great website content.
Here are our top web copywriting tips.
1. Know Who You’re Writing For
With more than 200 million pieces of online content created every minute, it can be difficult to stand out.
One of the best strategies to cut through the competition and reach your audience is to create a target persona.
Once you have your target persona clear in your mind, writing your content becomes much easier.
Your target persona will guide what language and tone are most likely to resonate with your audience and inspire them to take action.
2. Create Eye-Catching & Skimmable Content
Since we’ve already established that our attention spans are worse than a goldfish, you should make your website copy skimmable, as well as eye-catching.
- Start with an awesome headline. The headline is your hook and helps a reader decide whether they should click and read on. Make your headline clickable with power words.
- Use lots of white space around your copy.
- Incorporate subheadings and bullet points to break up space and create obvious landing spaces for the reader’s eyes.
- Break up text with images. Photos and videos not only break up the text, but also create points of interest for the reader. Use a mix of visually striking images, informational visual content, and even entertaining GIFs where appropriate.
- Write concisely. Never pad out your copy. Every word should have a purpose and need to be there. Try to write as concisely as possible.
Our average attention span is just 8.25 seconds – that’s one second less than a goldfish! @JuliaEMcCoy shares how you can create eye-catching and skimmable content and other #copywriting secrets Click To Tweet
3. Keep It Simple
Your website copy is not the best place for showing off an impressive vocabulary.
In 9 times out of 10 times, the simplest word is the best choice.
A famous memo from advertising executive David Ogilvy to his staff on ‘How to Write’ champions the case for keeping it short and simple: ‘Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.’
For example, instead of ‘accordingly’, you could say ‘so’, and ‘next to’ is better than ‘adjacent to’.
Additionally, Ogilvy says to ‘never use’ jargon words, or what we may recognize as corporate speak. He cites words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally and judgmentally as no-go terms.
It may be appropriate for some businesses to use some industry jargon, especially if the audience is likely to use the same words, but in most cases, it should be avoided.
— Ogilvy & Mather (@Ogilvy) October 8, 2013
4. Choose the Right Voice
The voice is how an article sounds and feels. It’s characterized by word choice, language, and style.
It should reflect the voice your business wishes to portray and reflect the voice your audience may use or respond to.
For example, are you trying to sound conversational or formal? Does your language need to appeal to millennials or retirees?
5. Use Punctuation
We’ve already spoken about poor spelling and grammar, but punctuation deserves a special mention.
Bad punctuation can completely change the meaning of a word or sentence.
One of the biggest culprits is ‘its’ versus ‘it’s’ – just remember, ‘it’s’ is short for ‘it is’. Read your copy back with ‘it is’ to see if it makes sense with the apostrophe.
6. Use Active Language
You should avoid passive language where possible.
Passive language focuses on ‘something having been done’, where active language is about ‘doing something’.
- For example, passive language: ‘this report was prepared by us’, and ‘it is our recommendation that…’
- Active language examples are ‘we prepared this report’ and ‘we recommend that…’.
A trick to making language more active is to use strong verbs or action words up front.
7. Use Keywords
The use of keywords is important in website copy as it’s a critical component of SEO, but they should never be over-used.
Keywords should only appear in your content if they appear naturally – that is, the sentence shouldn’t sound clumsy because of the insertion of a particular keyword.
Google is clear about penalizing content that is ‘stuffed’ with keywords:
If you’re planning on targeting keywords in your content, incorporate them in a natural way. Read our extensive guide on how to find and use keywords for more on this topic.
8. Include a Call-to-Action
Good content should never go to waste.
If you’re going to the trouble of creating great web copy and ensuring your audience reads it, don’t waste the opportunity.
There’s nothing worse than getting excited about what you’re reading, only to get to the end and find there is no answer to ‘what next?’.
This is why you should include a powerful call-to-action or CTA.
Tell your readers what to do next. Implore them to ‘register now’, ‘call us’, ‘sign up’, ‘buy now’, or ‘follow us on Facebook’ – give them something to do.
It’s best practice, though, to limit your CTA to just one. If you only give your reader one action, they are more likely to do it, rather than overwhelming them with too many choices.
Bonus tip: Consider matching your CTA to your content topic. Match the offer and the design.
For example, we usually theme our custom-designed CTAs to our blog topic. In our case study on SEO rankings, we created a CTA that matched the design of the blog header. The CTA offer was also relevant to the topic, which was all about inbound content. In our CTA, we talk about a matching service: the great content we custom write and deliver to our clients.
It’s always wise to ask a second person to proofread your website copy, as we often miss our own mistakes.
Think about proofreading the content in hard copy, as it’s much harder to spot mistakes on the screen.
10. Hire a Professional Content Writer
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when writing website copy, which is why hiring a professional content writer is a great option.