writing-webcopy by moonhafen


									The eleven commandments of
creating compelling web copy
for the non-copywriter
1 Hire a copywriter                                                   2 Keep the focus on your visitors
I know—these are the 11 Commandments for the do-it-yourselfer.        Too many Web sites have the “About Us” content on the home
So why am I bothering to tell you to hire a copywriter?               page. Let me be blunt:
I mean, undoubtedly you’ve generated hundreds or thousands of
                                                                      No one cares about you. (At least not at first.)
emails in your life and sat through some sort of composition class
                                                                      They don’t care about your mission statement, your customer
before now. Maybe this Web site is to promote a book you just
                                                                      service philosophy, how long you’ve been in business…not even
wrote. You can certainly write some copy for your Web site right?
                                                                      about your products and services! They only care about one
Not necessarily.                                                      thing: themselves.

Copywriting is different from other types of writing.                 As the old adage goes, everyone’s tuned into the same radio station:
Copywriting is about persuading people, your site                     WII-FM. (What’s In It For Me?)
visitors, to take action at your Web site (more on that later.).
                                                                      Your visitors are at your Web site because they have a
It takes a different set of muscles.
                                                                      need or a problem. Talk first about their problems, their needs,
The British Athletic Team would never put their top sprinter in the   their situation. After you’ve addressed these issues, then you can
marathon with hopes of winning a gold medal. It’s a completely        talk about how you can help.
different type of race. The same is true of writing copy
                                                                      Take the “we-we” test. After you’ve written the home page copy
Copywriters have experience in using specific words to                count up the number of times you use “we” words: we, us, our, or
get people to take action. They are professionals in what they        your company name, and compare it to the number of times you use
do. While they are not inexpensive, they are a great investment in    “you” words: you, your, etc.
the success of your Web site.                                         The “you’s” should
                                                                      have it
If you’d like to hire a professional copywriter CBA can recommend a
few. If not, then read on…

                                                                                                              +44 (0)1223 845550
The eleven commandments of
creating compelling web copy
for the non-copywriter
3 Write to one person                                                        4 Start every web page with a
Although thousands (if not millions!) of visitors will come to your
                                                                               descriptive page title
home page, they’ll be filing in one-at-a-time. Don’t try to talk to all of   You’re actually writing for at least two audiences: people and search
them…instead talk to each one of them.                                       engines. Although search engines will never buy your products or
                                                                             services, they can drive qualified people to your Web site.
Imagine you’re having a one-on-one conversation with
your best prospect or customer and write as you’d talk                       However, search engines are blind. They don’t care about
to her. The people who are most like your best prospect will                 your fancy Flash movies, your flaming logo or your product beauty
respond to this message—these are the people most likely to buy,             shots. They only understand copy.
subscribe, or join.
                                                                             To that end, start with descriptive page titles that explain
                                                                             succinctly and specifically what the focus of the page is. Don’t use a
                                                                             generic phrase like “Services” when you can title a page “Holistic
                                                                             Healing Services in Biggleswade”…or whatever is appropriate for you.

                                                                             Your page title is often the first thing prospects see of your Web site
                                                                             on a search results page…make sure this title gives people a
                                                                             compelling reason to click on your link and not the link of your

                                                                                                                       +44 (0)1223 845550
The eleven commandments of
creating compelling web copy
for the non-copywriter
5 Support page titles with                                           6 Use your keywords in your anchor text
  complementary, keyword-rich                                        Anchor text refers to the words that are “hyperlinked” to another
  headers and copy                                                   page. These words are often underlined and appear in a different
By using (and repeating—within reason) effective keywords            colour from the rest of the text. Search engines consider these
throughout your page you’ll rank higher at the search engines for    words more important than non-linked words and phrases.
those phrases…all other things being equal.
                                                                     How can you take advantage of this? Instead of creating a
How do you know what your effective keywords should be? How          link from your home page to your resources page that says
can you determine which words will drive qualified traffic to your   “Resources”, be specific: “Public Speaking Resources”, “Resources
Web site and compel people to take action?                           for Home Schooling”, or “Resources for People Suffering from
You can either guess at what your prospects are
searching for, or you can run a Keyword Analysis. A                  Search engines will now have a better idea of what the linked-to
Keyword Analysis will uncover the most effective keywords based      Web page is all about and should rank it higher…again, all other
on actual search engine results and competition in your niche.       things being equal.

                                                                     In addition, the descriptive hyperlink is more helpful to your site

                                                                     7 Narrow the focus of each page
                                                                     Both search engines and people prefer specialists at the expense of

                                                                     Search engines want to provide users with Web pages
                                                                     that are most likely to answer their search query.
                                                                     Therefore, the tighter the focus of your page, the more likely it is to
                                                                     answer a specific question.

                                                                     While it’s true that a narrower focus means the page will come up for
                                                                     fewer searches, your goal is to bring qualified traffic, not just anyone,
                                                                     to your Web site. Concentrate on the people
                                                                     you are most likely to help.

                                                                                                               +44 (0)1223 845550
The eleven commandments of
creating compelling web copy
for the non-copywriter
8 Keep your copy short and easy-to-read                                     9 Be specific
Reading words on a Web page is difficult. Eyestrain, short-attention        Vague, superlative words have little impact on your visitor.
spans and our desire for instant gratification all dictate shortened        Consumers today tune out words like “greatness”, “excellence” and
copy.                                                                       “quality.” To counter this, give a specific example that helps your
                                                                            visitor visualise the greatness or quality of your product.
Use as few words as possible to get your point across.
While some search engine experts say that every page should have            As copywriter Jonathan Kranz wrote, “If you want to scare the cloak
250 – 500 words minimum (for search engine optimisation purposes)           off Little Red Riding Hood, don’t lecture her about the woods and its
there’s no real evidence to back this up. Use what’s right for you.         perils—put the wolf’s hot breath on her neck.”

If you have longer copy, break up paragraphs into                           What about your product or service has the impact of
smaller pieces… use headers and sub-headers to give readers an              the wolf’s hot breath?
idea of what’s coming and what they may be able to skip over.

If your paragraphs still look like dense blocks of text, use extra
paragraph breaks, bold and italicised text to stress important
ideas—dashes and ellipses as well…they all break up paragraphs

I And everyone loves a bulleted list.

Important Note: Never use underlines on the Web for emphasis
outside of a link. You’ll frustrate visitors who will click on underlined

                                                                                                                      +44 (0)1223 845550
The eleven commandments of
creating compelling web copy
for the non-copywriter
10 Create calls-to-action                                                11 Hire a copyeditor
Buy now. Subscribe to our newsletter. Complete this form. Enter our      Sometimes you can be too close to your copy for your own good.
free draw.                                                               The fact that no one knows your product or service the way you do
                                                                         can be a negative, as you may make assumptions about your
This isn’t a creative writing class. The purpose of copy is to
                                                                         visitors’ knowledge or experience.
sell…to sell a product, a service or an idea.
                                                                         Having a professional review your copy and make
You need to ask for the “sale” at least once a page. Don’t
                                                                         recommendations can be a cost-effective method to a
assume your site visitors know what’s expected of them. At the
                                                                         better Web site, a better conversion rate, and a better
bottom of every page there should be a call-to-action. What that call-
                                                                         bottom line.
to-action is depends entirely on your business and Web site goals.

Don’t forget to ask for that sale.

Important Note: Don’t hyperlink phrases like “click here” or “learn
more.” Since anchor text is important to search engines and the eye
is naturally drawn to links, hyperlink your keywords.

I “Download our free report on carcinogens in your home.”

I “Enter our prize draw to win an iPod.”

I “Sign our petition to stop late fees at the library.”

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