Good Website Copy Wins the Day
Make no bones about it — having quality copy on your website is crucial to generating high-converting website traffic.
While you can argue that writing copy isn’t rocket science, there is still plenty you need to consider before you even sit down at the keyboard.
Why? Because, you want your copy to attract and engage your reader and lead them through to your desired call-to-action.
Firstly, what is Copy?
In this context – when we say ‘website copy’ – the word ‘copy’ simply refers to the words or text on your website.
And the thing is, coming up with effective copy isn’t easy.
It’s true that many business owners or marketers think they can write copy and they can. But it’s usually to the detriment of their business.
Which brings me to the golden rule of website copywriting – just because you think you can, doesn’t mean you should!
Quality copy is the right combination of words that compels current and potential customers to take a desired action.
This might be to:
- Complete a purchase
- Request a demo
- Download an eBook
- Become a member
- Subscribe to the newsletter
- And so on
Here at Citrus Digital, the dilemma we continually face in our website development studio, is that our clients are happy to write their own copy. BUT…..
What they deliver isn’t SEO-friendly and doesn’t enable a high-performing, lead-generating website.
So, to help our clients and anyone considering writing copy for their website in 2020, here are the top 10 recurring issues we see and how to avoid these website copywriting mistakes.
Mistake 1. Unclear Message
Have you ever arrived on a website & wondered what on earth they’re trying to tell you? Or you just end up confused? Or you hear yourself uttering aloud “Get. To. The. Point!”
It’s often said that today, you only have 3-5 seconds to grab your reader’s attention.
And truth be told, I think on a mobile device this could be even less. That’s the digital age for you. Readers want solutions and fast.
So, if you don’t connect with your reader quickly, and tell them why you’re relevant and valuable to them (or at the very least give them enough to keep them reading and head to another part of your website), you’ve lost them.
It doesn’t matter how amazing or cutting-edge your product or service is – for readers to care and engage, they need to know – What’s in it for them.
Sure, there are brands and products that need more explanation than others, but you still have to get to the point. And this is definitely where a good copywriter can come in handy. They tread that balance between too much and too little, and convey your message in a succinct and engaging manner.
HOW TO FIX IT:
Be very clear on what your key benefits are – what’s in it for them. How will you make their lives better or easier? What pain points do you solve? Why do they need you?
Then put those key benefits upfront, not buried 5 paragraphs down!
Focus on connecting to your reader within 3-5 seconds, and get your key benefits across with punchy and compelling copy that leaves an impression.
And whatever you do, don’t forget about the headline. Take the time to develop a compelling headline.
Mistake 2. Writing for Yourself
Repeat after me – I am not my ideal customer?!!!
This mistake is common, yet easily remedied. Put simply, don’t ever write for yourself or what you want to hear.
You are not your ideal customer and while your business might be incredibly close to your heart, or you feel it’s a reflection of you – at the end of the day, you need to remember who buys from your business.
It’s your customer. So talk to them!
HOW TO FIX IT:
It’s incredibly important to do some work on your Ideal Customer, and discover who they are, what language they use and how best to speak to them.
In addition to knowing who you’re talking to, make sure you do actually talk to them.
Look to use ‘you’ and ‘your’ to address the reader directly, rather than speaking in vague terms like ‘one’ and ‘they’.
Mistake 3. Overblown Sentences
Sentences with too many words, or too many big words can kill the effect of your copy. Same goes for unnecessary adjectives and overly flowery descriptions!
The key here is to remember yet again what the point of good website copywriting is to connect to your reader and lead them to the desired action.
Not to bore them to death or have them reaching for their dictionary.
HOW TO FIX IT:
When you draft your copy (or receive your first draft from a copywriter), stand back from it and make sure that each sentence has a purpose.
You shouldn’t need to add extra layers of fluff just to sell the sizzle. Because as we’ve already covered, you now know exactly who you want to talk to, and the key benefits you want to speak to them about.
Getting back to the point again that you have 3-5 seconds to engage your reader means that less is definitely more when it comes to effective website copywriting.
Mistake 4. Use Jargon Wisely
More often than not, it is best to exclude jargon from your copy.
(And by jargon, we mean those words that only a select group or particular profession will understand. That the rest of us will struggle with!).
Because overall, the simpler your copy is – the more personable it is. It also becomes easier to read and act upon.
Having said that, there will always be exceptions to this. Particularly if you sell a more technical product and can?t talk about it without the relevant jargon.
But again, ensure that you’re writing for your reader. Not for yourself.
If your readers will understand and react to this type of language, then by all means. Otherwise, make sure your copy will meet the education standard and vocabulary of your audience.
HOW TO FIX IT:
Ask yourself why you’re including the jargon? Is it to inflate your claims or make you sound fancier than what you actually are? Or do you just need to communicate the value? Is that word overkill? Is there a simpler word you can use?
If you do need to use jargon, make sure your sentences aren’t stuffed with it, or it can make your copy sound stilted and cold, rather than welcoming and engaging.
As far as jargon goes – another trick is to get someone to read your copy aloud, and if you’re starting to sound pompous or unappealing, try again.
The other great way to test your copy’s readability is to check the Flesch Reading Ease score in the Yoast plugin in the backend of your WordPress website. This will give you excellent feedback and tips to improve.
Mistake 5. No Personality
Ever heard the saying bland copy sells? Me neither!
Another great saying to remember when you’re writing your website copy is that – “People buy from people“.
So you want your website to speak to your reader? To engage them in a conversation with you.
Gone are the days when to sound professional, your brand couldn’t show personality. Again, there will be exceptions to this rule where some brands need to be more formal in their tone, but for the majority of businesses, it’s well and truly safe to show your brand’s character through the words and tone you use.
This also ensures that your customers feel like they’re engaging with another human, not a robot!
HOW TO FIX IT:
The best way to test for personality is to read your words aloud. Does it sound as if you’re speaking to a single person or are they just words on a page?
If a customer walked into your business or spoke to you on the phonem how would you or your salesperson sound? What stories and anecdotes are told? What words get used?
Don’t be afraid to share your brand’s heart and soul in your website copy.
Mistake 6. No Formatting or Structure
Whatever you do, don’t just put big blocks of text on a page! Remember that the bulk of your website visitors will be scanning for the points that are relevant to them, so you want those points to pop.
And, if your text simply looks like a stream of square or rectangle blocks, it?s hard to pick out what it is of value.
But that also doesn’t mean making every second word bold or creating a riot of colour!
Great structure and formatting is about leading the reader’s eye through, so they click on the next link, or are drawn through to your call-to-action.
It’s also about getting to know what <h1>, <H2> and alt tags mean. These not only help make your copy accessible to all readers, but boost your SEO efforts too.
Another huge mistake made by many is not making your copywriting user-friendly for mobile phones and other devices.
When you load your copy onto your website, you may be doing that on a desktop, but keep in mind that half of your customers will be looking at it on their mobile. And the screens are substantially different aren’t they!
HOW TO FIX IT:
- Guide your reader: Start your copy with a captivating Headline, then guide your reader through with compelling Subheadings. Stand back & see if your reader can understand the copy by the heading & subheads alone.
- Make it pop: Create emphasis with bold, italics, colour or a larger font. But don’t go crazy! Another trick is to Put Capitals Where They Don’t Usually Go.
- Break it up with bullets: Bulleted or numbered lists draw your eye, are easy to scan, & make a welcome change from paragraphs.
- Add more White Space: By pressing Enter, and making your paragraphs different lengths, you create more White Space on your page. This leads the reader’s eye down the page & also makes it easy to pull out key information. One sentence paragraphs work well too. Really!
- Make your copy Accessible: Almost one in 5 people have a disability, so you want your entire audience to be able to access your content. This is where using alt tags to describe images for vision-impaired, and using the right labels for headings such as H1, H2 and so on will help your readers to navigate the page.
- Check the view on Desktop, Mobile and Tablet: Switching from Desktop to Mobile view, you’ll quickly see what multiple lengthy paragraphs and other formatting choices can look like on the smaller screen
Mistake 7. Ignoring SEO (at your peril!)
Ask yourself why you have a website. Is it supposed to be a static brochure that never gets found, or do you want more and more of your ideal customers to discover you?!
Then your website copy has to be SEO-savvy!
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation‘ and while there is plenty of technical tricks, there is also a lot you can do in your copywriting that will help.
Incorporating SEO gives you the chance to rise up the rankings and be found by more potential clients.
HOW TO FIX IT:
If you’ve got no idea where to start with SEO, then we can talk you through it.
But as a starting point, here are a few areas to cover.
- Choose a Primary Keyword
- Choose Synonyms – alternatives to your Primary Keyword
- Include your Primary Keyword in your Title, Meta Description & Opening Paragraph
- Scatter your Primary Keyword & Synonyms throughout your text
- Place your Keyword & Synonyms in the Image File Names & alt tags
- Check your Score in the Yoast SEO plug-in & follow the suggestions
- Above all else – write naturally! Don’t keyword stuff or Google will spot you a mile away and will penalise you for it.
Mistake 8. Not Editing
Even the best copywriters won’t write from start to finish in one session. They get their brief, plan and brainstorm, research, write and then edit.
Whatever you do – don’t underestimate the power of editing!
When you put on your Editor’s hat, it’s about stepping into the shoes of your ideal customer, reading your copy aloud and seeing how it sounds.
When you edit, you can:
- Review your headline and subheadings
- Cut out any unnecessary words or other fluff
- Proofread for typos, grammar issues or missing punctuation.
- Overall ask yourself – Does it make sense? Is it engaging? Will your customer easily spot the key benefits?
HOW TO FIX IT:
Schedule your writing so that you can finish your draft on one day, and then Edit on another.
It’s even better if you get another person to edit and proofread it for you. It’s amazing what you can miss when you know what you want it to say!
Mistake 9. Copying Others
One of the quickest ways to lose credibility in your customers’ eyes and potentially cause yourself some serious legal issues, is to be a copycat.
Sure, the internet is a treasure trove of information and you can take inspiration from competitors and other businesses.
But don’t ever just copy and paste!
At the end of the day, your business isn’t the exact same as any other, so make sure your copy isn’t either.
HOW TO FIX IT:
It’s natural to go and see what others are doing and to like the way they’ve worded it. But don’t ever copy and paste sentences and paragraphs and call it your own.
Remember that it’s your unique story and offering that you want to connect to the customer with.
Again, this is where a quality copywriter can help. Particularly if you find yourself struggling to describe who you are and what you do in a unique way.
Mistake 10. No Call-to-Action
You don’t want to go to all the trouble of writing beautiful website copy that connects and engages with your ideal customers, only to have them struggle to find how to take that next step.
Every page of your website needs to have a call-to-action (CTA), which is a prompt to take immediate action.
Yes, even your About Us and Blogs need a CTA!
Because without a call-to-action, it’s simply a brochure. And you’ve lost an opportunity to engage further with your customer.
Remember too, that CTAs come in many different forms, such as:
- Click through to find out more on another page, blog or form
- Download an eBook
- Sign-up for a newsletter or subscription
- Become a member of your Facebook Group
- Take a survey
- Book a discovery call or meeting
- Get a quote
- Make a purchase
- And more!
HOW TO FIX IT:
Think about what action step(s) you’d like your reader to take – whether it falls into the category of Contacting You, Clicking Through, Signing up, Downloading, or Buying.
Make sure you include one CTA on each page of your website.
Time to create some great website copy!
We hope this gives you plenty of information and inspiration to create engaging and compelling website copy that speaks directly to your ideal customer, is SEO-savvy, loved by Google, and has your readers clicking on those calls-to-action!
However, if it’s made you realise you have made a number of these website copywriting mistakes, but, you’d rather keep doing what you do best?
We’d love to help!
Our in-house wordsmith at Citrus Digital is a talented, Australian based, copywriter and marketing professional who’ s been in the game for over 15 years.
We’ll happily craft rich, tactical and targeted content for you, that’s appealing to Google and will motivate your ideal customers to take action.