What exactly is copywriting? Well, copywriting in reference to a website, is the ability to write the text on a page that compels people to look at the site, read what it has to say and do whatever the 'call to action' is. In other words, a good copywriter or good copywriting can make or break your website.
Copywriting for the Web A Guide on the Basics of Copywriting for the Web Brought to you by LK McCain Visit: AffiliateMarketingMagic.com 1 Legal A Guide on the Basics of Copywriting for the Web By: LK McCain LEGAL NOTICE The Publisher strives to be as accurate and complete as possible in the creation of this report, notwithstanding the fact that she does not warrant or represent at any time that the contents within are accurate due to the rapidly changing nature of the Internet. The Publisher will not be responsible for any losses or damages of any kind incurred by the reader whether directly or indirectly arising from the use of the information found in this report. This report is not intended for use as a source of legal, business, accounting or financial advice. All readers are advised to seek services of competent professionals in legal, business, accounting, and finance field. No guarantees of income are made. Reader assumes responsibility for use of information contained herein. The author reserves the right to make changes without notice. The Publisher assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of the reader of this report. Sales, editing, changing of this eBook are prohibited unless express permission is given by the publisher/author. 2 Contents Legal------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2 Introduction-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4 Chapter 1 Why Writing Copy for the Web is Different-----------------------------------5 Chapter 2 Plan to Know Your Visitors--------------------------------------------------------7 Chapter 3 Plan in Order to Succeed-----------------------------------------------------------9 Chapter 4 How to use META tags to enhance your SEO---------------------------------11 Chapter 5 How to Find Effective Keywords and Keyword Phrases-------------------13 Chapter 6 Keep it Short and Sweet-----------------------------------------------------------15 Chapter 7 Other Essential Components for Good Copywriting------------------------17 Chapter 8 Get a Headline that Grabs--------------------------------------------------------20 Chapter 9 How to Go About Writing a Headline------------------------------------------22 Chapter 10 Test the Tone of Your Headlines------------------------------------------------23 Chapter 11 Be Positive from Beginning to End--------------------------------------------25 Conclusion-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------27 Resource/Glossary & More on Tags----------------------------------------------------------29 About the Author---------------------------------------------------------------------------------32 3 Introduction What exactly is copywriting? Well, copywriting in reference to a website, is the ability to write the text on a page that compels people to look at the site, read what it has to say and do whatever the 'call to action' is. In other words, a good copywriter or good copywriting can make or break your website. Quite a few people seem to think this is an easy thing to do, however unless you have years of experience as a writer or are naturally talented, it isn't as easy as they think. If you want to make sure that your visitors or customers know what your website is about and what it can do for them, it is imperative that you produce good copy. This book will look at the basics for creating good copywriting for your website. However, before we get to the mechanics of it, you need to understand the psychology of good copywriting. To start with, visitors to a website do not read it the same way they read a novel, a newspaper or anything else that is printed. A reader of a website usually reads the headline, skims the text taking note of any further headlines or graphics and then decide to leave or stay. This can take as little as 15 seconds! If the visitor has found a reason to stay, he or she will need a reason to believe what you are saying – again, this can take only seconds. If the page looks sloppy, unprofessional and has a lot of grammatical errors and misspellings, they will likely leave at that point. Once your site has made it past these first two hurdles, the likelihood improves that the reader will stay long enough to get a more in-depth understanding of what your site is about. But you are not out of the woods yet – often at this point the reader will scroll to the bottom of the page to see what the cost is and what the prize is. If you want your web copy to be effective, you need to keep those features in mind and write accordingly. As with anything else in life, you have to start with the basics. If you give them less importance than they deserve, your site will most likely flop. So lets get to it, okay? I'm ready.... Warm regards, LK McCain 4 Chapter 1 Lets look into the psychology a little deeper. In order to be an effective copywriter, it is vital to understand why copywriting for the internet is different than writing for anything else. It's all about the mindset of who will be reading the copy. Why would their mindset be any different than anyone elses? Well, take yourself as an example. When you open a book or newspaper, you have some idea of what you will be reading – not necessarily the content, but certainly the format. When you go to the internet and open a new webpage, do you know what you will get? Maybe a little, especially if you ran a search for a particular product or service. But until you open the webpage, you don't really know if you will be getting a video or a static page that you read. Either way, you are in total control. If you used a search engine, then you are looking for something very specific and can tell, almost at a glance, if you are at a site that is about what you want. If it isn't, you just hit the little red x in the right upper corner and you're gone. But if it looks like it might be something you want, you tend to stay and scan through the headlines and look at any pictures or graphics that support your quest. If it is, you might read a sentence or two and then scroll to the bottom to see the price and sometimes to see exactly what it is you will be buying if you haven't figured it out already. If everything looks good at this point, then you will probably scroll back up and read most of the copy and even purchase the service or item and/or opt-in to the mailing list. These are all of the things you want people to do when they land on your website, isn't it? Ok, lets take a look at what sends you to the little red “x” in the corner. I can tell you right now that if a loud, obnoxious video pops up and starts playing with no way to turn it off or turn it down, I will hit that red x so fast I may not even know what the site was about! But that is a personal thing that I do, and my sites will never have a video like this. Think about what makes you back out immediately. Obviously, if the headline says that it is selling an eBook about how to be a better chess player and you were looking to actually buy a chess set would be one reason. This speaks to keywords and headings and being very careful with both. You don't want people coming to your site that has absolutely no interest in your product or service. 5 Now, reverse all these scenarios. Instead of imagining you, imagine a total stranger has landed on your page, looking for exactly what you have to sell or give away. Ask yourself these questions: 1. Does my visitor know instantly that they have come to the right place? Your headlines and subheadings should immediately let your visitor know that this is where they need to be. They should be reassuring and invite your visitor to keep reading. 2. Will the visitor find what they need to know? The internet is all about sharing knowledge. It is really just a huge FAQ page! Clear, concise writing delivers to your visitors what they are looking for in an easy to understand format. 3. Will anyone who comes to my site be able to complete/understand/perform what I am offering? Clear and easy to follow directions are absolutely a must. Unless you are making a page for NASA engineers on how to build a new shuttle, the average 6th grader should be able to read and follow any directions. If you think the answer to all of these questions is “yes” then you have a winner. People will tell other people and visitors will come back for more. This is exactly what you are trying to achieve. 6 Chapter 2 Just like the basics, the planning stage for your copywriting is very important. Remember, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. This doesn't have to be a big, drawn-out process using paper and pencil and brain-maps. However, if you are more comfortable doing it that way, go for it – it certainly won't hurt! Large projects of course, require this type of planning, but for the purpose of this report, we are going with the KISS process. If you didn't already know, KISS means “Keep It Simple Silly” (or Keep It Simple Stupid if you want to go that route) Mostly, planning for the copy we are discussing involves really understanding your potential visitors. These visitors are extremely important – if everything goes accordingly, a visitor will turn into a buyer or at least one of the people on your mailing list. You could market to them for years. Understanding perfect strangers can be very difficult, but if you know what they are searching for it can steer you down the right path. Other clues can help too – study any comments they leave or any kind of contact they make with you. Start by trying to figure out what their questions might be. Usually the questions a visitor asks him/herself every time they search for and go to a website are all generally the same. This includes you if you think about it. These questions are usually: 1. What am I doing here? 2. What's in it for me? 3. How do I do it – or is this even something I can do? 4. Where do I go from here? Being able to answer these questions with just your headlines and graphics is almost impossible. Luckily, we can explain all of these answers using text – also known as copywriting. These answers need to be obvious to all visitors – those who are there for the first time and those who have returned. Also, remember that 50% of your visitors will not even try to figure out these answers for themselves – and the other 50% may try and fail. These answers need to be painfully obvious and very simply portrayed. 7 Determine who your core audience is and focus on their needs above others. You can't get everyone, even if they are targeted visitors, so you will want to be sure to target a particular group directly. Talk about how they will benefit from your site as if they were the only person in the world. Try to make them feel that you built the site just for them. If you are targeting more than one particular group of visitors, then you need to address all of them. You can do this by building different pages on your site, then directing them to them. Don't forget that there are thousands of sites out there offering what you do and a visitor will go elsewhere if they think your site isn't delivering to them in particular. Make sure your copy provides each person what they need, explain the facts but don't overdo it. Never, ever lie or fib – and check your facts as well. Even if you give out the wrong information by accident, a visitor will still think you misled them and your trust will vanish. They will never re-visit your site or have anything to do with anything connected to your name. They may even pass this on to their friends or contacts. Hype has become a 4-letter word, although some of it is necessary to get people pumped up and excited. Too much hype or long pages of writing turn people off and they will leave your site before they have even determined if it is something they want or need. Keep it low-key and classy. 8 Chapter 3 The next step in the planning process involves understanding yourself. You need to know what you are hoping to achieve. You have already figured out the steps that are vital to your success – increasing sales, building your list, advertising your site to spread the knowledge, figuring out how to handle the customer service end of things. What you haven't figured out is how to do all that through your copy. To start with, you need to figure out who your 'perfect' customer is and what it is that they want. To do this, you need to know your own product inside and out. If you are promoting your own item or service, then you already know this. If you are promoting as an affiliate it can be a little more difficult. Consider these people to be intelligent and well informed about the subject. Your plan must be to aim at these people with laser-focus. From your own in-depth knowledge of your product or service you can then figure out just what your perfect customer wants and needs. From there, you design your copy to speak to these needs and mobilize these people to your website. You may feel like this is a lot of thinking and planning just to write a page or two of web content. And maybe it is for you if you have a natural writing ability and are clairvoyant. Actually, someone with a lot of experience may not have to do all of this planning, but you can bet they didn't get that experience without it. Without it, you are at risk for writing poor sales copy. You won't know who to target and could (will) miss out on some of the visitors who actually want what you have and are ready to pay for it! Remember, if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. Now that you have determined who your target audience is, you can begin searching them out. Start by building a profile of your perfect customer, which, in essence you have already done. This profile is 'who' you write your copy 'to'. All the experts say to write as if you are talking with a friend. Now that you have this profile, this is easy to do. Elaborate on what the benefits of your product are for that “person”. Don't make your page exceptionally long but do make it as strong as you can without being “hypey” - remember to keep it classy. 9 The most widely used strategy is to write about what the customer wants in the most familiar 'tone' that you can achieve. Keep it easy and low key while using as strong wording as you can. Try to keep the content consistent and orderly. Don't bounce from subject to subject. This is one instance where it is okay to use some slang or to 'talk' like you are among friends. Some people are really turned off by stilted or very formal language, so keep this in mind and write like you talk. Just don't overdo it or you may sound like you are using a different language. 10 Chapter 4 Now that you have the psychological aspects of copywriting down, we can move on to the meat of effective copywriting for the internet. Not only is how a person reads something on the internet different, how things are written for the net are different as well. As anyone who is familiar with the internet knows, the World Wide Web has a language all its own. To be an effective copywriter, a working knowledge of at least some of these terms is very important. This is one of the aspects that makes copywriting for the internet so different. To start with, a good copywriter will keep the Title tag and META tags in mind. Both areas are vital to SEO. See the Resource Page for further in-depth information. Title tags and META descriptions are generally the first two things people see after running a web search and choosing a site. There are browsers that won't support this however, so you need to be aware of this when writing copy. Some will show some of the lines of text from your website while others won't show anything at all. Areas should be covered in this order (note: the three items below are only seen on the SERP, not when you open your website. They are part of the code in the HTML area): • The Page Title – The first thing seen when a search is run on the internet • The META Description – Often the 2nd thing seen when running a search on the internet. • Both of these will usually show up on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) • The Heading Tags – This talks about specific topics in your website Visible Content – This is about areas you can see when you look at your website. They are important for SEO. In the order of their importance: 1. Hyperlinked text and Title Attribute: • Hyperlinked text is text that will take you to 'somewhere' when clicked on. It is usually blue and underlined. It will often display a 'tool tip' when your mouse pointer hovers over it. • Alternate Text Tags – used with images, do not “keyword stuff,” especially with words that are not related. 11 2. META Keyword Tags – see Resource Page. Apparently this area was severely abused by the uneducated and unethical in years past. A lot of the strength has been depleted and in fact, some say they are not used by search engines at all anymore. To write excellent copy for your web page, you must pay attention to keywords and the META tags if you have any desire at all to rank highly in the search engines. Since the coveted #1 spot on the Google search engine can make or break your web-based career, enough attention cannot be paid to this. Careful keyword research also cannot be over emphasized. See the Resource Page/Glossary for more helpful information. 12 Chapter 5 As mentioned in the Resource Page/Glossary, the #1 spot on the Google search page is the Holy Grail for marketers. Getting there is at the whims of the search engines and what the current algorithms are. We can test and guess and blog about it, but the fact is that no one person really knows. There is no doubt about it though, keywords and long-tailed keywords play a critical role in this. Finding the perfect keyword has become a science all its own. In case you didn't know, a keyword is the word(s) we use when we run a search for something on the web. A long-tailed keyword is more like a phrase, it has at least two words included in it. Search engines themselves are the most important means available to bring free customers to our sites. There is no such thing as 'if you build it they will come'. There are millions of websites out there, many having the same subject as yours and unless you have a fairly high ranking, no one will ever see your website. Search engines will only return what people ask for. How can you figure out what people are going to ask? This is what keyword research is for. Good research should show you how many searches your keyword attracts in a month, both locally or globally. It should show you how much your keyword is searched for over time, say the past 6 or 12 months. It should give you an idea of how much money you could make if you were at the #1 spot on Google and how much it might cost you to advertise using the CPC numbers. More importantly you need to know what your competition is. What has this to do with copywriting? Everything! Your keywords and long-tailed keywords are vital to good copywriting. Your goal is to get visitors and turn them into buyers, right? Keywords are what people search for, so this is how they get to your site. Good copy along with the right quantity of keywords sprinkled throughout will help you rank well with the search engines, this is another way to get people to your site (traffic). 13 There are many programs available, both free and ones that you purchase that are available out there that help with keyword research but it would take a very long time locate all these different components. Then you would have to learn how to use and interpret the results. The program I use is called Market Samurai and it has all of these answers and more. I can't say enough good things about this program and strongly suggest you take a look at it. I think it even has a free trial so you don't even have to put out any money at first. You can find Market Samurai here: Market Samurai You can also find other programs by searching online and Google even has a great keyword research tool. Either way you have to do the research and you have to have the keywords that will draw visitors. When you look at the competition for a keyword you need to be sure you don't pick one that has stiff competition. If you do, your ranking will never be high enough for anyone to see when they do a search. Research has shown that only 42% of people actually click on the site that is in the #1 spot on the search engines, and it goes down drastically from there. If your site is on the 152nd page of the search engine it is very unlikely that anyone will ever see it or click on it. Keyword research is its own topic and for the purposes of this report we cannot cover all there is to know about it. As far as keywords and copywriting goes, hopefully you have done your research before you have even attempted to write any copy for your site. Keep in mind too, that you can use the keywords too much and be penalized by the search engines for this so you want to keep it circumspect. 14 Chapter 6 When writing copy you need to think about what makes you stay on a website longer than a few seconds. Even if I am interested in something on the site, I will not read a long-long-long sales page! I seriously doubt that anyone will. Typically, a visitor will only read one or two of the lines of text. The longer the page that the text is written on, the more likely is the visitor will become impatient and click off of your site. That being said, the trick is to use your headers and sub-headers to communicate important information. Write only 2 or 3 sentences to a paragraph. Have at least 2, usually 3 spaces between paragraphs. This lets the visitor scan your page and get a lot of the information they need. This is the kind of site that will compel someone to follow up on the call to action. It also almost guarantees a return visit to see if there is anything new. This is one of the goals of a good website. If you have so much information to impart that you cannot possibly do it in this format you should try writing extra pages for your site. Break down the information into several different subjects, then use hypertext to take them to the page. This keeps the visitor on your site, keeps them interested and engaged. You want to make sure that this information is well organized, especially on a longer page. Try to keep each page devoted to one idea, then use headers and bullet points to make it easier to read. Again, you want to keep the paragraphs as short as you can within reason. Even though they may be expecting to read a longer page, people still typically only read one or two lines. Writing extra pages can also help with page ranking since one of the aspects usually looked at is the size of your website. It is perceived that a website with a lot of content gives more information out and is more helpful in general. Even though your readers are likely fairly intelligent and well versed, you also want to make sure that what you write is expressed in simple, easy to understand terms. If you have no choice but to use technical jargon, include a glossary or give definitions as you go. You can even have some fun with this by making up fun quizzes or polls, just not with every unfamiliar word or phrase. 15 You don't want to make it too simple though – that tends to bore and insult people. Are you beginning to see that copywriting is a balancing act with a lot of things in the mix – keywords and keyword density, short ant simple text, META tags and SEO, return visitors, calls to action? You want to make use of a light, easygoing tone throughout your copy. Writing like a textbook or using an overbearing and condescending tone will send your readers to the hills – or at least the next website! Keep the tone consistent. You don't want to go from light and easygoing, to boring and overbearing then back again. This makes for very poor copy. Keeping the tone uniform also gives them a sense of familiarity with your websites. If they like your style they will return for more. If they come back and your style has changed, it leads to mistrust and can ultimately lead to losing that visitor. Make sure your writing is clear and spirited. You really don't want to bore anyone, even if they are looking for a subject that would put you to sleep. Hopefully, your website isn't about something that isn't interesting! Remember though, what may be boring to one person may be very exciting to someone else. This really is a balancing act! 16 Chapter 7 We have discussed some of the psychology and the technicalities that go along with good copywriting. Like most things in life though, there is so much more than that. Some of the other essential factors for writing good copy include vocabulary, spelling, grammar, graphics and the overall way the page presents. It is easy to become distracted and obsessed with any one of the other issues that go along with copywriting. You can spend all of your time trying to find the perfect keyword or how to use the keyword in your text. You can focus solely on META tags or SEO. The sign of an experienced and superb copywriter is someone able to keep everything in balance without letting any of the areas suffer. This is what you should strive to achieve. With all of the tools that are available – spell checkers, thesauruses, grammar checkers – it is easy to get lazy and not pay attention to the details. Well, when they say 'The Devil is in the details” they have to be talking about this! Sites with spelling errors and poor grammar are usually deserted immediately. Even if your offer is phenomenal, better than anything else out there, all it takes is a couple to words that are misspelled for a visitor to get disgusted and leave. Be sure that everything is correctly spelled and grammatically correct before you publish your page. Most spell checkers have grammar checkers too, but don't depend solely on these. Read it over at least twice, three or four times if you find errors. Then, have someone you trust read it over as well. If English is a 2nd language for you, you must get someone to read it over that has English as a first language. Having a peer who also has English as a 2nd language is likely pointless, it is vital that your copy is free from spelling and grammatical errors. Formatting is also as important. You don't want to use a lot of capital letters since this is considered 'shouting' and can leave someone feeling as if they have just been punished. Lots of boldface, underlined or italicized words can make the page look scattered and confusing. 17 However, if you leave these attributes out entirely, your page may appear boring and bland. Using the boldface text and the italics is appropriate for certain words or phrases that help explain or takes your readers where you know they need to go. The same can be said for underlining and using bullets. As already mentioned, copywriting is a balancing act. Make sure your paragraphs have at least 2 lines between each one. Do the same after each headline. Only hit your spacebar once after ending each sentence with a period. Just doing these two things make your page look cleaner and more polished. Also mentioned several times already, writing for a webpage is different than writing for a report, research paper or newspaper. It is important to know what are strong vs. weak words and when to use them. There are also words that can inflame people, so be aware of what your words sound like to others. If you find that your copy is longer than you would like, but there is no other way to communicate with your audience then use fairly narrow columns. The human eye tracks words more easily from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line when the width of the column is narrow. Use several subheadings in your text if it is long. Craft the headings so the reader can get the gist of the page just by reading them. This would entice a reader to stay on a long page. Use plenty of subheaders, as this helps those who would rather just scan a page before they commit to actually reading the whole thing. These subheadings should lead your visitor through the key points. A vital subject when speaking to copywriting is the uniformity of your hypertexts. Some browsers webpages now sport orange hypertext which may or may not be underlined. Since the beginning of hypertext it has been blue and underlined. I can appreciate why someone would want to be different, but this in not the way to do it. Unless a person is very new to the internet most of us know that the blue, underlined text is a hypertext or an anchor text and it will take us to another page or place that relates to the subject of the discussion being held just prior to the link. If suddenly there are words written in orange a visitor is not likely to know what to do with it. If the text is underlined, they might have an idea but wouldn't know for sure. It would be at this point, a visitor would likely get very frustrated and click on the red x in the right upper corner of the page. 18 The point is, keep your hypertext blue with blue underlining. Everyone knows what this is and what it does. Every little thing you can do to decrease distractions and frustration pays off in big ways. Do everything you can to make their visit easy and pleasant. You can also indent the key elements in your text. In fact it's a good idea to indent in any big block of text or places where a sub-header isn't appropriate. You will be able to tell how it looks once you get it all together and view the site in its entirety. If needed, go back again and again until it has the perfect balance of elements, headers, keywords and everything else we have discussed. A lot of webmasters 'tweak' their sites several times a day but this isn't always a good idea. Unless you need to update something or information changes that you need to correct, only fix errors with the spelling and grammar once you think the site is where you want it. You could end up making a perfect website into a disaster! Look at your site with an objective eye, then make any corrections or additions you think it needs. Go back and look at it again and again. If it looks good, leave it alone! Once you've bought, quit shopping! I hope you understand just how important correct spelling, grammar, formatting and use of the language is to good copywriting. 19 Chapter 8 When you first build your site the first page is the most significant and is called your home page. This is the page we have been discussing your writing all of this copy for. This is the page you want all of your visitors to come to first and follow up on your call to action, whether that is signing up for something or subscribing to your list. A pretty important place. Obviously, a headline that reaches out and grabs potential customers is part of the process of writing excellent copy for your webpage. This can be easier said than done! Your keyword needs to be a part of your headline so keep that in mind when doing keyword research. After that, there are no hard and fast rules. Think about other headlines you've seen and what made you respond to them – was it because they had an offer for a free something? Was there some type of contest? Was there a sense of urgency – like you would miss out on something if you didn't open the page and respond right now? Other ways may be to offer something but limit the supplies or time. You can make a seasonal offer or offer to pay for a new program or ebook. You can offer something for free if they sign up to your list. You can even offer something on a daily basis. But, whatever it is, you have to deliver on it. All of these actions can get traffic to your page. They are excellent suggestions to use to draw people in, but you have to make sure that you are entirely ethical and above-board with every offer made. Trust is one of the main things you are seeking from your visitors. They don't know you from anyone else and the likelihood that they have been scammed or lied to by other marketers is probably at about 99%. Trust is something you have to earn, and earn it very quickly or you can lose this person forever. Therefore, it is imperative that your offers are 100% true to your word. If you have created a sense of urgency by saying your offer will only be available for 5 days, you must remove the offer in 5 days. If you have said that you will deliver a free report, you must deliver the free report, don't even hint at charging them money for any part of it. If you have said your download is 100% free, don't even think about tricking them into signing up and then charging money after 7 days. Any offers like this should be written in normal fonts and sizes. 20 Even if your offer is for a trial period, make sure it is very, very clear that there will be a charge following the trial period unless the person opts-out. Don't try to hide these facts using tiny 'mouse type' on the 15th page of your site – make sure the visitor is very aware before he or she can even sign up for your offer. There have been so many scams and shady practices over the past few years, and it wouldn't surprise me if some sort of legislation were passed and the unethical and greedy end up doing jail time in the near future. If you are absolutely ethical and transparent with everything you offer, everything you claim and everything you write, you will be fine. And sleep better at night. If you do not feel like any of these tactics are something you would be able to live up to – don't make the offer! There are other ways of creating a sense of urgency like showing a price list or screen shot from a competitor that clearly shows you have the better deal is one way. This implies that your lower price may not last long, especially if the competitors goes up. Use your imagination for these methods but just be sure they will be carried out. Then write your headline accordingly. The whole point of these actions are to get people mobilized and coming to your site. It is to get the ones who waffle over if they should make a move or not, to make that move. Creating urgency is a tried and true method to get sales. But it must be done with the utmost integrity or it will be the only chance you will get. 21 Chapter 9 Now that you know about the psychology and wants and needs of your audience it is time to write the perfect headline. This is where you you take everything we have discussed, take yourself out of the equation and create a headline that speaks to your target audience. Use less words rather than more – remember, this is a headline, not a paragraph. Try to make it seductive and charismatic. It should capture their attention and imagination. Don't stress about this and don't over-think this process. Any headline is better than none and the most beautifully crafted headline does no good whatsoever if it isn't put in place. In other words, doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing at all! Focus on what questions or wants and needs your target audience is searching for. Then write a headline that speaks to these matters. Remember to include your keyword which should envelope all of these subjects. Use your imagination and have fun! 22 Chapter 10 Since the headline is at the top of your page and is likely the very first thing your visitor reads when they click on your link, it is easy to see that it is the most important sentence on the page. You have to make sure the tone of your headline is exactly what is needed. It is doubtful that anyone will even visit your page if it isn't compelling and seems to reach out and grab the potential visitor and pull them into your site. If your headline isn't doing these things you can test it to see what the best combination of words will be. Testing can be done by numerous ways, just do a Google search for “Headline testing”. There are several programs listed you can buy or articles you can read. For an example, say your page is about 'no bark' collars for dogs. Your headline might read something like “Get this collar for your dog and stop his barking” When you ask the question “So What?” you can immediately see that the benefit to your visitor is missing. So then, you would revise your headline to read “Get this collar for your dog and stop his barking and your neighbors complaining!” A headline like that would definitely get a click from someone looking for no-bark collars because the neighbors are complaining and threatening to call the police the next time the dog barks! You can even use this method to solve problems that your visitors haven't even known they had yet! They just may be looking for no-bark collars because the barking drives them crazy – but now they would say to themselves “oh, yeah! I'll bet John and Mary across the street would really appreciate that too! I'll bet that's why they haven't talked to me since I got Spot....” See, you could even bring about world peace! Sorry, but I just had to throw that in there. Still, at the end of the day, you need to remember that you are trying to solve a problem or problems for your potential customers. 23 If you are having a hard time coming up with a headline, practice some free thinking and write down everything that comes to your mind. Then imagine it as your headline. • Does it contain your keyword? • Is it compelling? Ask yourself these types of questions once you have some ideas out on your paper. Then do some tweaking, adding or subtracting different words. Use your thesaurus, most word processing programs have them. Look at the keyword research you did to come up with your keyword. If all else fails, walk away for a while and do something totally different. When you come back you may have the perfect headline all worked out. Keep trying, testing and tweaking until you have a headline that really speaks to your customers. 24 Chapter 11 You need to remember to keep a good attitude from beginning to the end of your webpage. If you keep the discussion light and positive, people leave feeling good and wanting to return to get more. The psychology behind the beginnings and endings of webpages is simple – the beginning needs to be strong, positive and compelling to get the visitor 'in the door'. The ending needs to be strong, positive and compelling to get the visitor to return for more. The beginning and the endings are where you want to use your very best material. This is not only for the reasons already discussed above, but if you think about it, these areas may be the only areas that are read. If they start out seeing your best and most positive work and they end with the same, the visitor will likely leave with every intention of returning to see more. Or, they may actually look for more websites that you have done. Regardless, you have made a fan out of a new visitor. This is a very good thing. Good copywriters create stories out of their material. Would you rather read an interesting story or some dry facts? They can take the subject of their site and turn it into a story that will keep the reader enthralled from beginning to end. The very good copywriters can fill their copy with a sense of their own attitudes which is generally very positive. They can write so the visitors will read the entire page. You can do the same. Use words like “will” “can” and “yes” and avoid negative words like “won't”,”can't” and “no”. Of course there will be times when you have to use negative words and phrases but try to use them in a positive way – for example, if you are talking about your own success or lack of it so far, you would want to say something like “Even though I was told “no” over and over, I knew that I could do it and I did! And I fully expect that I will have more and more success with this program! You can have this too!”. You see how someone who has not had any success with some type of program has put a spin on it that “this time I will win”? Incorporate this tone throughout your page and your visitors cannot help but feel that they will also experience success. 25 If you will take these suggestions and apply them to your own copywriting, you will have a site that is interesting, compelling and successful. 26 Conclusion The goal of good copywriting is to get a person to click to your site, then converting that person into a regular visitor and member of your opt-in list. If you get a sale with a first visit, it is a bonus, but not the norm. It generally takes about 7 repeat visits to get a sale. We have discussed the fundamentals and some of the tricks and tactics good copywriters use to be successful. There is no reason in the world that you cannot also be successful. It is a matter of keeping your goals at the front of your mind and remembering to use the basic skills taught to make your website SEO friendly. This is something within your power and control. Do not forget about the very basics of good writing – perfect spelling, good grammar and a light and helpful tone. Keep your positive attitude flowing throughout your copy and pass it on to your visitors. This will keep them coming back for more. Do your best to keep your pages short and engaging, informative but sociable. Keep your passion for your subject out front and obvious but avoid coming off like a sales pitch. Aim for your target customers and remember to write for them and not yourself. Be mindful of SEO and direct your writing accordingly. Make sure keywords are in your headers and title and everywhere else suggested. Don't overdo it or keyword stuff. One of the most important things you can do to increase your sites ranking is to add new content. It is recommended that you add new content at least twice a week. You can find out more about keywords and SEO by doing a Google search or taking a course in marketing online. Adding new content to your site will: • Encourage visitors to keep coming back to your site to see what is new. Along the way they will likely convert into a buyer and you can market to them for years to come as long as they remain a devoted fan. 27 • New pages will get indexed by the search engines and possibly increase your ranking. Your previous keyword research will continue to benefit your site by higher page ranking. Your site will experience a steady growth of laser targeted traffic • You can mention yourself and your own feelings or knowledge, but keep it brief. Although it may interest you, it probably isn't that interesting to your audience. If they want to actually know more about you they can read it in the “About” page of your website (if you have one). Your homepage is your introduction to your visitors. Remember that you don't get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression. Make sure this page is informative, attractive and classy. Misspelled words and poor grammar are tacky although it is okay to use slang in limited amounts. You want to have your copy read like you are talking to a friend over a beer or soda. Keep it friendly and informal. As long as you use these suggestions and continue to work on improving your site, your copywriting and yourself you will realize your goals, sooner rather than later. 28 Resources/Glossary HTML Meta Tags – Information that is inserted in the “head” area of your page in the HTML code area. This is not necessarily visible on your web page but it is visible to the search engine crawlers and is one of the aspects used to rank your page. Meta tags are in between the “Head” tags in the HTML area of your webpage. If you are in the HTML section the head tag looks like this: <HEAD>. There is one at the start and the ending of the descriptions which contains your TITLE tags and META tags. The actual TITLE tag isn't a META tag – TITLE tags CAN be seen in the search page, META tags cannot be seen by 'human' searchers but do tell the search engines things like character sets and if the webmaster has declared that the page contains adult content. TITLE TAGS - The actual title tag tells the browser the title of your page (no surprise there!), a description, keywords. It is not an actual META tag but is used right along side it in the HEAD section. An example of what this might look like in the HTML area is: <HEAD> <TITLE>Affiliate Marketing for Beginners<TITLE> <META name=”description” content=”All you ever wanted to know about Affiliate Marketing”> <META name=keywords”affiliate marketing,web sales, basics,how to,”> <HEAD> From this example you can see that the HEAD tag opens then lists the title, then the META name and keywords, then the HEAD tag closes the whole thing. More on Tags: The TITLE Tag - Starting with the 'TITLE” tag – this information appears in the (usually) blue bar at the very top of your screen called the 'reverse' bar. Some browsers will insert their name as well. In the above example the bar would look something like: Affiliate Marketing for Beginners – Microsoft Internet Explorer There is usually a small graphic, aka a Favicon, at the start of the title. See the little star? 29 The TITLE tag will also appear when a page is bookmarked or chosen as a favorite. Take a look at some of your own bookmarks and favorites and you will see what I mean. The importance of this should be becoming clear. Not only will people see your title when they do a search and come to your site, but will continue to see it if they bookmark it or select it as a favorite. Therefore it is vitally important that some thought goes into your title tag. Make sure your keyword is in it. Make sure the spelling and grammar is correct. Beyond these reasons, remember the search engines? This information is vital to getting your page ranked. It is also what the major search engines will use as the title to your page in the search descriptions. The META Description Tag - Next, you will notice the 'Description” tag. You can actually influence what the search engines index by what you put in here. This description is is generally 200 – 250 characters long, but usually a smaller portion is what is actually displayed. When you do a search, you will usually see this description directly below the title of the website. Some browsers use the tag and others will use part of the tag, then draw upon the body of text in the page to complete it. To simplify this process you can take a portion of the text body yourself and copy it into the META Tag Description area on the HTML page. The Meta Keywords Tag Another way you have control over what the search engines see and index is in the META Keywords Tag. Although only the crawler-based search engines will look at this, unfortunately the majority now ignore it. In order for this to be beneficial at all you have to make sure that any keyword you list in this area is also mentioned in the text of your site. Otherwise it will be ignored completely. Since no one knows exactly what the algorithm is for the search engines, it is impossible to tell how important this is. The actual fact is that it doesn't hurt and might actually help so use it regardless. The META keywords could also be used by the crawlers to be recognized for synonyms or unique words that actually are not on the page itself. For instance, if your page is about a one-of-a-kind widget but you don't actually use the word 'widget collectors' in the body of text in your page. Putting the words “Widget collectors” in the META keywords might actually get picked up by a search engine when someone is looking for 'widget collectors' online. Of course just using the term 'widget collectors' in the body of your text would help your chances exponentially. Another way of looking at this is to examine these keywords again. What if someone was searching for 'widget collections'? If it isn't in your text on your page, then listing it in your META keywords might get a hit from the search engines. 30 However – according to the experts, the META keywords are not important at all to the search engines anymore and spending an inordinate amount of time on them is a huge waste of time. Truth be told, nobody really knows for sure except the people who write the algorithms for the search engines. And not all of those people know for sure either – from what I've been able to find out, these people are only responsible for a part of the algorithm. That way, nobody in the world actually knows what the whole thing is. The best advice is to go ahead and complete the META keywords but don't spend an inordinate amount of time on it. Do the best you can and of course with experience this will get easier and quicker. You won't be wasting any time when that happens. One last word of warning – don't repeat a word too often in your META keyword tag or your site may get penalized and hurt your chances of a good ranking. All this being said, as always our goals as affiliate marketers is to provide our readers and followers with good, honest products and information. Many of us are working hard just to make our first sale! After that comes the 2nd sale, then the 3rd and so on. Good luck with that, and as always, keep learning! 31 About the Author Laurie McCain has been studying online marketing, particularly affiliate marketing for some time. She has several websites online, primarily as part of a package offer. You know the ones, you get a 'free' website, then can't do a thing with it except pay for the hosting? One that isn't a 'package deal' is her latest site called AffiliateMarketingMagic.com, and is being developed as we speak. New articles, content and offers are added often. AffiliateMarketingMagic.com. You will also be able to read more articles aimed at the newbie, ways to make money online and general affiliate marketing information. Laurie lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest where she has been a RN for 21 years. Although she loves being a nurse, she would like to have more time at home and has decided to do this through the internet. Visit her website Affiliate Marketing Magic to see more of her eBooks, articles and offerings. 32
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