March 6, 2012
Have you checked the quality of your website copywriting recently? If not, there’s no better time than the present to conduct a complete ‘health check’ of all your online copywriting activities – and how they fit together.
A lot of businesses don’t understand why they should take a strategic approach to online or website copywriting. To most, copywriting is a fairly peripheral thing. At best, it’s seen as part of the online marketing process and will probably take care of itself as part of a website design or search engine optimization (SEO) brief.
And yet, with so much resting on the success of a company’s website – through its rankings and sales conversion rates – it’s almost negligent not to take copywriting seriously. For many people in business, this would require a massive change in mindset. Traditionally, copywriting was the clever stuff that went into ads or sales letters, or – at a more Cinderella level – the words that filled brochures and catalogs.
That has all changed. Online marketing budgets are growing to meet the potential of online consumer demand. With it, we’ve seen an explosion in SEO, website design and usability techniques. That’s all fine. Copywriting may also have grown in terms of content volume, but what we haven’t seen is a greater focus on the quality and effectiveness of copywriting, especially in the ways it can interact most effectively with other online elements. To any clear-sighted business person, it should be obvious that addressing this situation will pay big dividends.
Monitoring a Moving Target
The number of pages on the web has increased exponentially. Competition to be ‘visible’ online is reaching fever pitch. That’s because the financial stakes are enormous as businesses strive to appear on Page One of Google in response to keyword searches.
The term ‘website copywriting’ is barely adequate to describe this process. A vast range of online copywriting skills must be brought together to achieve the higher rankings that are essential for a website’s success.
This can only be achieved by a hugely experienced copywriter (or specialized copywriting agency). The wider term ‘strategic website copywriting’ may therefore be more appropriate to emphasize the ongoing and co-ordinated nature of what’s required.
Given that the web is a dynamic, evolving space, it’s important to monitor just how effective your website copywriting efforts are. ‘Feeling your online pulse’ on a regular basis is therefore essential if you’re hoping to improve your web page rankings.
Checking Out the Details
To maximize the return on how much time and money is invested in your online copywriting efforts, it’s important to take a broad view of those elements that will influence your website’s presence and performance. Some of these areas overlap with the more straightforward aspects of SEO, but they can be realistically included under the copywriting umbrella.
* At a basic level, it can be beneficial to register a domain name that includes a keyword relevant to your particular business. Likewise, if your business operates within a specific geographical area, you could also include the name of your town or city in the domain.
* Another consideration that is applicable to setting up a new website would be which design format to use. There are plenty of templates out there, but these may lack some of the bells and whistles you need. If you want total control of your website, it’s important to have a content management system. For full social media functionality, you may want to consider a WordPress website which meets Google’s preference for sites whose content is updated on a regular basis.
* No discussion about website copywriting can be complete without including SEO. Although most copywriters don’t offer a rigorous across-the-board service, many aspects are included as part of the SEO copywriting function.
* As part of Google’s ongoing policy of continually improving the accuracy and quality of the search experience for its users, a significant change in the criteria used to evaluate and rank web pages was introduced in 2011 with its Panda Update. Simply put, this placed a new emphasis on ‘quality content.’
* Gone is the emphasis on things like keywords and other meta tags. Gone are the linking rewards that came from submitting identical content to various article directories, especially those which publish poor quality articles. Instead, there is now a greater recognition of original, well-written text, videos, podcasts, Powerpoint presentations, research surveys and other content that will give the visitor a rewarding and relevant experience.
* This ‘on-page’ content is primarily about website copywriting. The other aspect of website copywriting in the broader, strategic sense is ‘off-page’ content such as articles, news releases, blogging, social media posts and so on. In both on-page and off-page copywriting, ‘quality content’ will be more likely to attract inbound links from other online users. Google’s rationale here is that content which attracts links must have intrinsic value and will therefore be rewarded in the ranking stakes.
* By definition, strategic website copywriting is an ongoing process. Adding fresh content to a website and generating new links via off-page copywriting activity should be continual. Link building has become a major part of SEO. Once again, the best way to build links organically is through quality content. Sustaining this approach will always be rewarded by search engines because the one ‘given’ in SEO is that Google will always be looking to provide users with a ‘quality’ search experience.
Mike Beeson is a UK freelance copywriter, journalist and PR consultant specializing in website and SEO copywriting, online copywriting, social media and PR. Mike’s company, Buzzwords, was established over 20 years ago and is located in Knutsford, Cheshire (south Manchester). For more information, visit: http://www.buzzwords.ltd.uk/website_copywriting.htm or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org