Your website is more than just for looks. Sure, the cliche is that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but that doesn’t mean that your written content has no value. In fact, the content—or copy—for your website has a pretty heavy workload. It is responsible for:
Defining the information architecture and navigation
informing the visual design and layout
Calling potential clients to action
Driving desired traffic, conversions, and leads
- Boosting search engine rankings
That’s a lot to accomplish! Successful copywriting is thoughtfully crafted and heavily considered, and it is an integral component in any digital marketing strategy. Looking for other ways to optimize your website for search engines? Check out these five SEO tips for business owners, or talk to us about our SEO/SEM services!
Your website users are unconsciously forming a distinct impression of your business, even if they’re just skimming the content. So what is your website copy saying about your business?
- Tone of voice - Readers are getting a distinct sense of your company from the tone, and judging whether they want to work with you. There’s a ton that your brand voice is communicating—your company’s core values and its culture, how you work with your clients, how reliable you are, etc. That’s why it’s a good idea to develop your brand voice before you even start writing the actual copy. Want some support defining your brand voice? We can help!
- Concise and to the point - Don’t beat around the bush. When you use unnecessary words or run-on sentences, you are telling your readers that you don’t value their time. Brevity is key, especially on home and landing pages. Strive to inform without being excessively wordy. If you have more elaborate concepts to explain, a great place to do that is your blog—just like we’re doing here!
- Free of errors - Your users aren’t all English professors, but that doesn’t mean that spelling mistakes are no big deal. When your copy is grammatically correct, it inspires confidence and trustworthiness. If your messaging is riddled with typos, readers will get the impression that you are lazy and unfocused—not usually good qualities, no matter your business.
- Flowery language - This is tricky to accomplish, and not the right choice for a lot of industries. If you make handcrafted dreamcatchers out of your home, it might make sense to be artsy and whimsical. But if you’re trying to sell banking services, your clients are likely not going to be impressed by your creative writing skills.
- Dated or archaic language - If you are using outdated slang or words that no one uses anymore, you can seem very out of touch. Unless you’re advertising your medieval festival or using dated culture references for satirical effect, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear.
- Listing off your company values - Straight up, you’re trying too hard. If you have to blatantly state your organizational values, it means that the rest of your copy is not doing its job. You want your readers to get a sense of what your company is about without having to be told outright. Imagine if someone made a point of telling you how honest they were—you might be left feeling uneasy, and wonder, “If they really are so honest, why do they have to point it out?”
- Complex language - Sparse, carefully placed terminology may be appropriate, depending on your industry. However, if your website readers need a PhD to make sense of the copy, you’re probably doing it wrong. You might think you are showing your extensive knowledge and expertise, but readers are going to feel that you’re overbearing and condescending. No matter how technical your business, it’s not a good idea to bombard people with fancy lingo.
- Repetition - A certain amount of repetition is useful for hitting home important points, but when you keep repeating yourself over and over again, you are showing a disregard for the reader’s intelligence. No one wants to feel like they’re being nagged—it’s annoying and a surefire way to make sure they want to stay as far away from you as possible.
- Too vague - This goes hand-in-hand with being concise. Your website needs to communicate to your potential clients what your organization is about, what you deliver, etc. If they read your content and still have no idea what you do—and frankly, what they get out of working with you—you’ve likely lost that client.
- Emojis - It’s pretty darn rare that there would be a case that using emojis in your web copy is appropriate. The automatic impression readers are getting is immaturity. Even if you’re selling clothing and accessories to young teens, it’s probably still not needed. Just like your mom probably said to you when you were little: “Use your words.”
- Slang - Unlike emojis, careful use of slang can be a great way to relate to your potential clients. Commonly used slang words become part of our everyday language, and even may become official defined words in the dictionary. However, in the wrong context, it is going to sound unprofessional, and using trending language can date your content pretty quickly.
- Ellipses (...) - When used skillfully in certain contexts, ellipses can evoke curiosity and keep people reading, but… it can also make you appear indecisive and uncertain. An ellipses is also made up of exactly three periods—no more, no less.
- ALL CAPS - Unless used consistently in headlines or the odd word for emphasis, it is typically viewed as the written equivalent of yelling. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly enjoy being yelled at, and it’s probably not going sell your readers on your business.
- Overuse of bold/italics/underline - Bold, italics, and underlineare often used for headlines and titles, but are also used to emphasize words in a sentence, or a phrase in a paragraph. However, improper use and overuse of styles are throw off the flow of your copy, and appear unprofessional and spam-y.
- Random special characters - Special characters have distinct purposes, and when you use them other than how they were intended, it’s confusing. For example, quotation marks should only be used for quotes, dialogue, or titles of works (movies, books, art, etc). Also, this squiggly little guy ~ is called a tilde, and is commonly used to mean “approximately”.
The characteristics of your copy will be defined by many different factors, such as your industry, company values, client demographics, etc, and hat can be seen as an advantage for one company can be a detriment to another. For example, if you are a small, personable startup in social media marketing, it might be great to use a few skillfully-placed emojis, hashtags, and internet slang in your messaging. However, this would be completely unacceptable if you are the CEO of a financial investment firm.
So how’s your website copy doing? Is it portraying the right message? Whether it’s editing your existing content, or developing your brand voice and content from scratch, we’d love to help. Contact us today and get your copy on the right page!