I’m not sure why it always surprises, shocks or baffles me when people don’t understand that website copy is not there purely for search engines. What is there not to understand? Only visitors will convert into hard cash, not search engines. Therefore, copy should be optimised for both search engines and visitors. It’s not a case of writing copy for one or the other.
So, bearing this in mind I “whoop whooped” for joy when I read Keith Gibbons’ article “Five reasons your content is damaging your brand”. The snippet that especially pleased me was this:
“Google is clever, but it isn’t a person. Filling your site with utterly useless but unique and keyword rich content will sometimes drive traffic through the search engines and onto your pages, especially for less competitive terms.
However, lots of companies seem to forget that, after they’ve risen in the Google ratings, they need to actually appeal to the individuals who have clicked onto the site.
If the content isn’t useful, doesn’t immediately direct them to something useful, or is badly written then they will leave and your efforts have been wasted.”
Not only does engaging, useful copy encourage visitors to stay on the site, but copy which is structured in a way that makes it easy to read, whilst including plenty of calls to action is more likely to persuade visitors to convert, whether that be completing a purchase, making an enquiry or downloading a piece of content. The value of website copy in getting the most out of your visitors is not something to be overlooked. This is why we always stress the importance of getting it right to our clients. Good copy can be responsible for the following:
- Increased rankings on the search engines
- …and therefore increased traffic from search engines
- Reduced bounce rates as visitors can immediately see that a web page is relevant to their search query
- Increased conversion rates
- Increased trust in the company’s professionalism
- Increased perception of authority within the industry
So, before you sit down to write web copy take time to think about what you expect when visiting a website, especially for the first time. Do you expect it to inform you of who the company is and what they do? Do you want to know fairly quickly that a site can fulfil your needs, especially following a search query? Do you want to be told how you can achieve your goal on the site? Would you like information on the products / services on offer? Do you want to be able to read their content easily? Do you want to feel that the company knows its stuff?
If you expect these things from your own experience of navigating the web then it only make senses that your website visitors will demand the same of you.
With this in mind, when writing copy for your website I urge you to consider the following:
- Include relevant search terms in page titles and throughout the copy, but remember to avoid keyword stuffing and please, please make it readable!
- Keep your language clear and simple
- Maintain a consistent style and tone throughout the site
- Limit each paragraph to one idea and use descriptive sub headings to split copy into easily digestible chunks. This aids visitors in scanning your web copy
- Consider using lists or bullet points for the same reason as above
- Front load your copy so the conclusion is first followed by the how, where, when and why. This helps people to understand the nature of the content and decide if they want to continue reading
- Include plenty of calls to action to encourage visitors to convert according to the goals of the website; ‘add to basket’, ‘call us now’, ‘compare products’ are just a few examples. Calls to action are important because, generally speaking, if you do not instruct your site visitors on what you want them to do, chance are, they wont do it!
- Make bold important words, phrases or calls to action
- Cross link relevant words and phrases within the copy to direct visitors to other pages of relevance on your site
By following this common sense approach you will soon get into the habit of creating copy which is valuable to both your search engine optimisation efforts and the experience of visitors to your site. Bear in mind that, increasingly, search engines are analysing user data, such as bounce rates and time spent on site, and beginning to incorporate this data into their ranking algorithms (which in turn determine where your web pages are ranked on the search engine results page (SERP)). With the quality and relevancy of web copy playing a major part in a users experience of your site, and therefore whether they stick around (or not as the case may be), it’s vital to follow the golden rule of web copy…
Write for users first, search engines second
Until next time…