People frequently overlook the content on the pages of their own websites – and it’s easy to do. Unless you’re constantly updating your products or overhauling your services, once the landing pages are up, they’re quickly forgotten about. But when you rely solely on the words on the page to turn browsers into buyers, you should be spending a decent amount of time evaluating, tweaking and then re-evaluating your content. Think of your web copy as a member of your sales team, and make sure it’s working as hard for you as any of your other employees.
Take a look at your current pages and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do they properly describe the products and services you offer, highlighting the unique features and benefits of each (all while staying true to your brand)?
- Do they have distinct calls to action (that don’t sound cheesy)?
- Is there enough content on the page so that Google will notice it for the right search terms (without seeming “keyword-stuffed” to human eyes)?
- If a complete stranger saw your page, do you think they’d trust your site enough to make a purchase or follow up for more info (would you give your credit card info to a website like yours)?
If the answer to any of these questions is “negative, Ghostrider,” it’s time to reconsider your content. You can hire a pro or, if you’re looking to save some money, you can do it yourself. Whatever you do, you should have your final pages edited by somebody who has experience with web copywriting.
Writing is a lot like singing: everyone thinks they can do it. You don’t want your landing pages to look like the written equivalent of a bad American Idol audition, and that’s why it’s important to have a web content specialist take a look at your finished copy. This option gives you extra control of your message, and it costs about a third of what you’d pay for a pro to write it from scratch.
The Pre-Writing Process
If you’re going the DIY route, there are a couple of things to consider before you start writing. First, make sure your foundation is solid by double-checking that the back end of your website is properly optimized for search engines. If a keyword had high search volume and low competition three months ago, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should still be targeting that keyword today. So get your keyword research on. It’s time well spent.
The other thing to consider is the amount of content you’re putting on each page. Most people agree that 250 words (about a half page) is a good start, but if you really want to catch Google’s eye you should hit 650 or more. Is that reasonable for all pages of content? Not always. So use your best judgment, and if you find that it’s possible to use more words without overcrowding the page or looking like you have too much time on your hands, go for it.
The Content Itself
There are several tricks you can rely on to ensure that your content will be, at the very least, above average. Hey, even if it’s not perfect, chances are it’ll still be better than your competition’s. And speaking of competition, looking at your competitors’ websites is a great way to get ideas about what to emulate, as well as what not to do.
In general, you’ll never go wrong if you:
- Hook ‘em from the beginning. An attention-grabbing first sentence or headline guarantees that the next line gets read. Once the reader is halfway through sentence two, they might as well finish the paragraph. Unexpected statistics, cultural references and scenarios are a great way to accomplish this goal.
- Create a problem. Then, solve it with your products or services. In some cases, this may be a problem your potential customer or client doesn’t even know they have. For instance, were you questioning your web content before you read this post? I don’t know if you realized it or not, but my company writes web content!
- Watch QVC. If you want to see sales pros in action, watch QVC. Those hosts don’t just sell gaudy holiday sweaters to old ladies, after all. They run a 26.2-mile word marathon on a daily basis, and they can teach you a thing or two about writing copy that is engaging and that converts. When you’re faced with writing fifty 250+ word pages of unique content, it’s easy to run out of things to say. The QVC hosts never do. They talk about the same product for five minutes at a time, nonstop – and yet it never sounds desperate or overly salesy. Listen to how they present products and companies and try to incorporate similar styles and ideas into your content. If it works for Quacker Factory it’ll work for you.
- Keep your tone readable and consistent. There’s a reason people read the copy of a Groupon and ignore a terms of service agreement. Groupon has a great tone that’s enjoyable to read, and terms of service agreements are boring legalese. You don’t have to be out-there wild and witty to produce content that people actually want to read. You just have to be interesting.
- Put a call to action on every page. Many of the product and service pages that you’ll find on the Internet don’t contain enough of them, but calls to action are important, and you’ve got to have them. Incentives are sort of like built-in calls to action, so throw them around liberally. “Order today, and we’ll split the cost of shipping with you.” Better yet, offer to ship it free. Remember, using the same line over and over again is cheating, and it’s annoyingly redundant when you’re browsing through multiple pages of content. It’s important to vary your verbiage.
But Wait! There’s More!
Just because your web copy is written and posted to your site, that doesn’t mean your work is done. Make sure that each page links to at least one other page on your site, preferably using SEO-charged anchor text.
And the last step? It’s a simple one: don’t forget about your new content. Tweet links to your new content-rich pages on occasion, then post a notice on Facebook too. Watch your Google analytics to see what your time-on-site and conversion rates look like. If these numbers are not where you want them to be, make adjustments until they are. After all, it’s an art, this stuff. Musicians have their overdub buttons, sketch artists have their erasers, and an artist isn’t happy until the work is done. Web writers? You’ve got your delete key and, sometimes, you’ve got a better idea.
Kari DePhillips is the owner of The Content Factory, an online PR company that specializes in web content writing and social media management. Give her a shoutout on Twitter @ContentFac.