Why Your Website Needs Compelling Copy

Cheryl’s Note: This guest post is from my colleague Heather Mueller who is one of the most savvy web copy writers around. Her tips on creating compelling copy and setting attributes for it are important advice for every business owner and following them will lead to less frustration and more success.

Frustration button

On the web, you have mere seconds to grab people’s attention. Which is why having a polished, professionally-designed website is so essential.

But what if you’ve invested in a killer website for your business—one that’s mobile-friendly, fast and filled with stunning visuals, readable fonts and a beautiful color scheme—and it still isn’t generating the results you expected? What more can you do?

The answer is in your copy.

Carefully crafted web copy is what turns casual website visitors into paying customers. Add a few SEO (search engine optimization) elements, and more of your dream customers will discover your business in Google, too.

What high quality copy can do for your website

For example, did you know image captions are some of the most-read copy on a web page? Or that image alt tags (for people who are visually impaired) help search engines determine what your website is about? Or that after last year’s big Hummingbird update, Google favors conversational language?

Paying attention to these details can make a big difference in how your web pages are indexed by search engines, where they appear in search results and, most importantly, what people will do when they land on your site.

High quality web content can:

Lead more dream customers to discover your business in Google

And Bing, and Yahoo, and even often-overlooked search engines like YouTube. (Yes, even YouTube has a place for search engine-friendly copy.)

In addition to writing image captions and alt tags as mentioned above, you should spend some time crafting unique title tags and meta descriptions (more on this below), headlines (also known as h1s), subheads (h2s, h3s, h4s) and behind-the-scenes code (called structured data markup) to help your website stand out in search results.

Even your image names and URLs can impact how the search engines “read” your web pages and blog posts.

Convince people to click from search results to your website

Every web page has a title tag that appears as a clickable headline in search results, along with a meta description or, in some cases, snippets of on-page web copy.

Web copy: write compelling titles and descriptions
Don’t overlook your website’s page titles and descriptions. This is where great web copy can help drive more revenue and profits to your business.

If you spend time on just one aspect of your web content, it should be page titles and descriptions. If you want people to click on your search result instead of a competitor’s, it needs to be compelling.

Keep visitors from hitting the back button

How often have you clicked on a Google search result, only to find the actual website doesn’t offer what you were looking for? Your prospects are doing the same thing. And they’re deciding within seconds whether or not to hit the back button.

Your copy should give them a reason to stick around.

Answer a pressing question. Provide a solution. Include an offer of help. Web copy that sells is typically:

  • Free of jargon and acronyms
  • Easy to skim (that’s what bullets, bolding and short paragraphs offer)
  • Focused on readers and their needs

Great web copy can also inform your website’s calls to action—the language that convinces people to signup for your newsletter, follow you on social media, subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed and hit a “buy now” button.

Make your web content a priority, not an afterthought

Do you have one of those polished, professional websites I mentioned at the start of this post? Great! Now go fill it with compelling, searchable web copy that sells.


Heather Mueller of Mueller Writing is a website copywriter who went digital with her love of the written word after a decade in journalism and public relations. You can connect with Heather on Twitter and Google+.


What kind of website does your business need?

Most small business owners want a website, but aren’t sure of how they’ll use it. Knowing the purpose of your business’s website is important to understand before you start building it or assign a budget to your project.

One size does not fit all in websites either

One type does not fit all

There are so many ways you can use your site. Most want a website to help promote and publicize their business. Some want it to function like a “Yellow Pages Directory Ad;” providing contact information. Some may want to use their website to sell their most popular products or services. Others may want to use their site as a customer service portal. Most, however want to use their web site as a brochure—and often don’t realize that there are many other options.

Brochures and more

A static brochure website functions like a printed brochure, sharing information about your business all day, every day. It usually features your products and services and a call to action. Additionally, you can offer free samples; white papers or valued added items that can help you convert your prospect into an interested customer.

This is a very simple type of site and if you don’t plan to update it too often, you probably won’t need a content management system (CMS) to help you change content, but it may mean that you pay your web developer to update your content for you. If you are somewhat computer savvy, using a CMS, you can keep your site’s information current and help you avoid the expense of content changes.

Avoid Flash

A couple of “web generations” ago businesses hoped to impress their customers with sites that use Flash. Many opened with a “splash” page which delayed the customer’s ability to see your products and services. It’s common that customers don’t want to wait and will abandon a Flash based site before they realize the full experience. With the use of iPhones that don’t support Flash, you may wish to avoid using Flash except to display small or embedded elements. There are many ways to use CSS (cascading style sheets) to provide motion on a page that may be preferable to Flash.

Add interactivity

Given the interactivity of the web today, you can have so much more than a static site. Adding interactivity, such as comments and product evaluations or ranking as well as social media connections to your site helps people know more about your business, creating a higher feeling of trust.

 

WordPress LogoUse a content management system

A website that is active and updated often may produce better results in search engine rankings. Google favors fresh content and connections from various kinds of rich media (audio or podcasts and video.) If you want the best rankings in search engines, having fresh varied content is primary. So, you’ll need a CMS to manage your data. There are many Open Source platforms that provide CMS functionality. These include Drupal, Joomla and WordPress. Usually one of these solutions is more than adequate for most small businesses. All allow for rich media, interactivity and easy updating.

E-commerce doesn’t equal a whole store

If you sell products as opposed to services, you may want an e-commerce website. Most small business owners don’t want or need a site with all the functionality of Amazon’s robust store, but there are ways to sell your business’s most sought after items. This is a good idea if you operate in a large geographic area. You can save them travel time while maintaining your relationship and get product evaluations too.  Selling a limited number of items using Google Checkout or PayPal provides inventory tracking, the capture of customer information and even a way to refund money should you ever need it. Integrating either solution into your website is simple. Both solutions function well for small business websites.

 

Facebook logoBe sociable

If social media is part of your marketing communications plan, you should link to your profiles, feature your Twitter stream and demonstrate your social media activity on the website. Let your customers find you on Twitter, LinkedIn or your business’s Facebook page. These communication channels allow customers to know your business in an informal way. Truly, we are all busy and customers don’t often have time to linger in the store getting to know you. With social media you can share your personality to support your brand.

Adding chat functionality into your site provides people an immediate way to contact you if you are online when they wish to talk with you. You can also add a Google Voice widget that connects directly with your business phone so that people coming to your site can make a connection easily and for free.

Free is good

If you have expertise in a particular area, you can provide e-books or white papers on topics that will develop credibility in the minds of your customers. You can also put downloadable value added coupons on your site to stimulate a buy now attitude.

Reach the website finish line & achieve goals

Know your goals

Knowing your goals for the website lets your web developer make efficient use of their time and yours, choose the appropriate tool-set to implement your site, while achieving your business objectives.