Writing For The Web
The biggest mistake people make in writing their website content is over-thinking it. Or more precisely, thinking there’s some magical formula that only an expert copywriter with vast SEO experience can achieve.
In fact the opposite is true. Google is getting better and better at knowing when someone has overcooked the keywords – when the text is no longer “natural”.
We will get to the nitty gritty of tweaking it for search engines later in this article.
What makes you think a copywriter knows more about how to sell to your customers than you do? By the time you explain what you do and the nuances of how you do it, you’d be better off getting stuck into it yourself. The style in which you sell to your customers over the phone or in your sales proposals should be exactly the same way you express yourself in your website copy.
If a certain sales pitch works offline, it should work online. So should the tone of language used.
Getting started is the hardest bit. This article didn’t get done in one draft – don’t expect (in fact don’t even try) to write your web content perfectly the first time.
Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. You know what it’s supposed to look like, you have all the pieces, you just don’t have them ordered or know exactly where they fit yet. So forget all about what content needs to go on what page of the website, we’ll build the jigsaw puzzle once we have all the pieces ready.
- Find the corners of the puzzle. These are your services, products etc. The easy bits to think of. Dotpoint these.
- Fill in the sides of your jigsaw. What’s unique about your business? What selling points do you need to get across about your products or services? Speed of despatch? Premium customer service? Free shipping? Explain these points in the same way you would on the phone or in your sales documents. Sell the benefits, not the product.
- OK the hard part begins. No-one knows where the first piece of that puzzle fits any better than you. Just start writing. Free reign, let the thoughts and words flow. Expand on the points above. Once you find a couple of pieces that go together you’ll see it all starting to come together. Don’t stress about writing too much or too little – say what you need to say and leave it at that.
Where this all differs from a jigsaw puzzle is that there’s no set layout to this. You may decide one section of your content might actually be better expressed in another way or with a different angle.
OK, so what about all the search engine stuff like keywords. Again, it’s more straight-forward than you think once you know how. Simply go through your content and tweak it by adding better words.
Let’s take two different approaches, let’s say for a plumber writing a case study.
Original: I was called out to fix a stove that wouldn’t light. I knew what the problem was likely to be so I went and bought parts on the way to the job.
Reworded: I was called out to (Suburb A) to fix a Westinghouse gas stove that wouldn’t light the burners. I knew the problem was likely to be a faulty thermocouple – that’s a safety device used on gas appliances – so I went by XYZ Plumbing at (Suburb B) and bought a new thermocouple on the way to the job.
In the original there is very little by way of rich text for a plumber – perhaps only the word “stove” and then it’s not really in context because he hasn’t said a gas stove, and electric stoves don’t need plumbers! In the reworded version not only do we have industry specific terms Westinghouse and thermocouple, we have geographical references of the Suburbs, and also a mention of a local plumbing supplies place – yes Google is smart enough to put all this together and say “this content must be in this region”.
With any luck someone will type in “(Suburb A) plumber” and you will display to them.
Something else that is often undervalued … have another read of the two sentences.
If they were different plumbers, which one sounds more knowledgeable and experienced? Which one would give you the most confidence to solve the problem? Don’t underestimate the power of the words to do the selling for you.
By the same token, don’t overdo it. Sticking “Sunshine Coast Plumbing” into your text 25 times on a page may get you extra ranking or may get you a penalty from Google for oversaturation, but it will definitely read like spam and be off-putting to your visitors.
Be yourself, tweak it a bit and then measure the results by looking at your rankings and traffic increases and adjust accordingly.