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by Stephen Logan on 27th January 2010
Avoid the fluff and give your visitors more of the good stuff. Plain English is the new ‘keyword optimised’ for online Copywriters, so it’s time to make it easier on yourself and your readers.
There’s no mystery to producing good copy. First of all you need an understanding of your audience. Next you need to have a reasonable vocabulary to communicate your message. Finally you need a way to instantly engage with the visiting public.
The last of these can sometimes be the most challenging though. What are they looking for? How can you write in such a way to entice them to explore your site further? More often than not the answer is to keep it simple and succinct.
As discussed in my earlier post, The Typos and Language Errors that Turn Visitors Away, it is easy to trip yourself up with the most basic of mistakes. In fact it is easier to write the wrong thing, than it is to get it absolutely right. So the more complex you try to make your copy, the more likely you are to find yourself alienating visitors.
As a writer you have to sometimes disengage to engage. ‘What nonsense’ you say, well let me explain.
Keeping Your Copy Simple
There is a temptation as a copywriter, or a site owner producing your own copy, to write with the knowledge and expertise that comes from having many years’ experience in an industry. You begin to write less for the visitor and more for yourself, using all the industry jargon and language quirks that are unique to your style.
If somebody reading the copy doesn’t understand what you’re saying, what possible chance do you have of encouraging them to investigate further? Soon you could be sending an interested visitor into a whirlwind of confusion and away from your site.
Clear the clutter from your mind. Get that message across in the way that you’re most comfortable with. If you have to use jargon, make sure there is a definition nearby, if you want to be a little quirky, make sure you keep it in check.
Avoiding Complacency and Negativity in Copy
Don’t allow the idea of writing copy consume you either. If you treat it as a chore, that indifference will be transmitted into your text. If you aren’t a copywriter by trade, just write what you can when you can. Hammering away for 10 hours a day to get a site completed in a week will, more often than not, result in text that seems as hurried as it is.
You should also try not to cut corners. A blank page is one full of opportunity; the moment you import text from elsewhere and start editing or retuning it in some way, that’s when you start creating disjointed copy littered with errors.
Calls to action don’t even need to be all that difficult. Just think to yourself – ‘what is it that I want my visitors to do?’ Whether it’s to buy a product, fill in a contact form or to phone your sales team, you need to convey that in an emotive way that will leave the reader in no doubt. Whilst this is an important part of any page, it shouldn’t consume all your time and efforts.
Balancing Simplicity of Content with Volume
Whilst you want to keep things simple, you also need a reasonable amount of content. This, I guess, is one of the many issues with writing for both search engine and human eyes. To add content simply spread it out a little; include sub-heads and bullet points to provide easy reference points for readers and add vital keywords.
And, with the mention of keywords, we finally get on to the subject of SEO. The main thing to remember is that search engines like quality content. They’re not interested in page after page of keyword stuffed content with little or nothing to offer the visitor. You do need to include your key phrases, but only do so where appropriate and without interfering with the flow of your page.
Don’t Make it Harder Than it Needs to Be
Whilst I might have done little more than shed some light on the many contradictions in copywriting, the fundamental point is that it doesn’t need to be difficult. Whilst there might a temptation to over-elaborate or rush things, by taking your time and keeping things simple you won’t send visitors packing straight away. An error-free page is one of the most difficult to criticise.
If you don’t have the capacity or confidence to do it yourself, there are professional SEO copywriting services available. Content is one of the most important parts of a website, both for SEO and visitor acknowledgement, so it isn’t something to be taken lightly. The more copy your site has (within reason) and the better it is, the more likely you are to achieve a better search engine ranking and improved conversion rates with visitors too.
Writing with a clear head and a sharp focus in a way that everybody can easily understand is the ultimate goal. If you can achieve this, your website copy will be the envy of your competitors.