Imagine yourself at a networking event: sharply dressed with a handful of freshly designed business cards. You feel a sense of pride passing them out to prospective clients—you did, after all, meticulously select the high-gloss paper stock, chic typeface, and luminous gold foil yourself.
You stand confidently, knowing your card is speaking for your business in a way you can’t. Then you realize your name is misspelled and only half the digits in your phone number are visible on the reverse side.
“Oh well,” you think, “nobody will notice.”
Sounds absurd, right?
Yet, when it comes to websites, many businesses overlook the importance of quality copy, and just focus on their aesthetic presentation. Now, we’re not saying design isn’t important (it is!), but copy is arguably more so since it’s usually where most of the information is.
Don’t panic, though—making sure your website impresses from top to bottom doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are five useful tips to consider:
1. Fix those mechanical mishaps
Making sure your copy is free of mechanical errors can have a huge impact on how your website (and business) is perceived. Grammar, punctuation and spelling rules might seem overwhelming, but we promise they’re not.
Often, grammatical errors happen simply by confusing one word for another, such as:
It’s and its
Their, there and they’re
Your and you’re
Too and to
Then and than
Assure, insure and ensure
Lose and loose
Led and lead
Cite and site
Spelling errors can be rectified by using an online dictionary or a word processing spell-checker.
Punctuation blunders like misusing commas and semicolons can be avoided by consulting an online resource meant to help sharpen these skills.
There’s an endless supply of information on the internet, so take advantage of it before you get started!
2. K.I.S.S. (“keep it short, stupid”)
When’s the last time you looked at a huge block of text on a website and thought “yes, I’d love to read this”? Probably never. That’s because few people are drawn to excessive amounts of copy, especially when they can’t even tell if the information will be helpful. Because of this, it’s important to be succinct and not add unnecessary bulk.
According to Nielson Norman Group’s user experience research, “on the average web-page visit, users read only 28% of the words. There’s so enormously much information available on the web that people usually scan instead of read.” So, since readers will only absorb a fraction of your content, make sure it’s the most pertinent, high-quality information possible.
3. Give it some flow
Sometimes having a lot of information on your website is actually necessary, but that doesn’t mean it should be hard to understand. Reading content that doesn’t flow nicely—paragraph after paragraph, page after page—is tiresome and unlikely to hold people’s attention.
Here are several ways you can improve the flow of your site:
Break the text up into easily digestible pieces (each paragraph should cover only one idea, not several)
Highlight key ideas so even people who are scanning will glean the main points
Use headings and subheadings to separate copy and give the reader an idea of what’s coming next
Place eye-catching images at appropriate places to let the reader know what ideas you’ll be discussing in that section
Organizing a lot of written content is vital so your readers can easily find what they’re looking for.
A jumbled menu and misplaced text can make browsing your website difficult.
Make sure to think it through (if you were a first-time visitor to your site, what order or placement would make the most sense?).
4. Watch your tone + use of jargon
Website copy can sometimes sound dry and impersonal—two pretty undesirable qualities if you want people to stick around and actually read your content. Recent studies show that tone matters. But in order to know which tone you should be using, you’ll need to know who your target audience is.
If you’re a medical professional, you’ll probably want to use formal language, but if you’re a coffee shop, a more casual tone is going to be more effective. We’d venture to say, though, that most businesses should adopt a less serious way of writing.
Don’t get us wrong, you shouldn’t drop your professional tone altogether, just lighten it up a bit. Conversational language is not only friendlier, it’s also more authentic. Just think about how you actually speak, as opposed to what you were taught in school. After all, nobody wants to read copy that sounds robotic. Here are a few suggestions to make you sound more human:
Use contractions, like “it’s” instead of “it is” or “we’re” instead of “we are”
Say things in a less matter-of-fact way, like “thanks for visiting us” instead of “we value your business.”
Use “hi” instead of “hello”
Using industry-specific jargon can also be a hindrance to your copy’s readability. Many readers likely have no background in your industry, so using terms only professionals in your field understand will frustrate them, and might cause them to avoid your content entirely.
Remember, “sounding smart” isn’t the objective here—getting, keeping, and connecting with customers is.
5. Make SEO your friend
If Search Engine Optimization (SEO) sounds like a term from another planet, you’re not alone; many people still don’t understand it.
Basically, SEO is a way to get more valuable and targeted traffic to your website, and therefore, more people reading your now-beautifully written copy.
It’s an incredibly powerful tool if you know how to use it.
Here are a few things you can do to get started:
Optimize your copy with targeted keywords (these help you reach your specific audience)
Include a blog on your website (another opportunity to add copy and keywords. Plus, it’s shareable content!)
Add images (websites with content that includes relevant images get much higher views)
It’s worth it to have excellent content that people want to read. In fact, the longer someone stays on your page after finding you through a search engine, the better—this is called “dwell time”: a timer signals that the searcher found what they were looking for on your site, giving you more credibility, and hence, a higher search rank!
The thing about optimizing your website for search engines is that you also need to make it optimal for people. Many businesses make the mistake of randomly plugging keywords in all over the place—a method we definitely don’t suggest as it can damage your online reputation and drive your search rank down even further.
Make sure you integrate SEO methods seamlessly, so it doesn’t affect the elegance and readability of your copy.
If SEO still sounds intimidating, check out these best free and paid SEO tools help guide of useful tools!
The way you express yourself undoubtedly leaves a lasting impression of you and your business—good or bad, in real life and online. Since your website is speaking for you when you can’t, making every word count should be a high priority. People do notice when your copywriting is poor, so we think it’s time to start noticing, too.
If you’re still looking for help, Flinnwest’s copywriting team specializes in web content. If you need to add copy to your website or want to upgrade what you currently have, we’d love to work with you! Email us for more info.