I was talking to a Web person the other day about copy. I asked if his site incorporated important keywords in the copy and linked those keywords to relevant pages, these being tactics that benefit both conversion and search engine rankings. “Um, no,” he replied. “Our SEO guy is on top of things. And we’ve totally revamped our navigation system. We want to avoid the cheesy look.” To which I replied, “You do want to sell, right?”
Folks, this is not a print world, and your visitors interact very differently with your online content than they would if they had one of your brochures in hand. The critical concept here is INTERACT. And to promote interaction, you have to keep visitors engaged. You do that through relevance.
Gerry McGovern, an inestimable source for content smarts and copy savvy, gave us these valuable content tips on interaction and relevance for our recently released Call to Action (I blush to tell you the book has already made its mark on several bestseller lists!).
Tip 1: Web content means writing links
Web content is different from print content. Yet many websites have simply ported print content onto their websites. Or, they may have written content specifically for the Web, but they wrote it with a print mindset.
How is web content different from print content? A fundamental difference is that web content can have multiple links. In contrast, print content is linear, such that Page 7 is linked to Page 6 and Page 8. A piece of content on the Web can have many links.
Linking is absolutely crucial to successful web content. You should never write a piece of web content without also writing its links. A link is a call to action. It says things like:
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Tip 2: Write great metadata
Metadata is an awful word. It sounds incredibly boring. But it's vital if you want to publish quality content on your website. There is one piece of HTML-based metadata that is absolutely critical. It's called the Title. A webpage without unique Title metadata is not really a webpage.
Forget about HTML-based keyword metadata. Most search engines totally ignore it. What you need to do is get the appropriate keywords into the content you write. So, before you do any writing you need to figure out the proper keywords, and then you need to use these keywords in your text.
Tip 3: Avoid 40,000 ft statements
People come to your website to do stuff. They're in a hurry. They have absolutely no interest in reading long, meaningless sentences about your superior, deeply felt commitment to the enhancement of the total customer environmental experience and well being. Get to the point. Give them the facts. Then stop.
To Gerry’s third tip, I’ll add the following considerations.
Don’t clock your copy for word count unless you have physical limitations. Clock your copy for relevance! Remember our discussion of short versus long copy? Turns out raw length isn’t really a good indicator of potential success – longer copy very often out-performs shorter copy. Why? Because when folks start trying to cut corners on their messages to satisfy the Short Copy Myth, they often hack off the relevant stuff. Say what needs saying. If you can say the same thing in fewer words (here's where a good editor is worth his or her weight in gold), so much the better!
When you’re giving folks the facts, write those facts as benefits (not simply specifications). Don’t tell them a product has a 50 foot cord … tell them what that 50 foot cord means to them when they use the product. Copy that communicates benefits lets your visitors visualize their involvement and satisfaction. And that’s far more likely to encourage them to take the next step in your persuasive process.
That meaningless stuff about superior you? That’s all about not we-weing all over yourself. Touting your wonderfulness carries no clout with your visitors. And it doesn’t even begin to qualify as persuasive! Play with our We-We Monitor to get an idea of your copy's customer-focus.
Short-stinting the attention you give to your content and copy is a reeeally bad idea. Don’t do it!
Oh, and don’t short-stint your business bookshelf. Your Call to Action, filled with great tips like Gerry’s and so much more, is waiting!
Special Note: You're in luck! Gerry McGovern is coming to this side of the pond. You can join him in New York (June 13-14), Chicago (June 16-17) or San Francisco (June 20-21) for his Two Day Killer Web Content Masterclass (complete with Executive Breakfast). He will also be in Toronto (July 14-15) presenting the Managing Killer Content Masterclass. Visit his site for summaries and booking information.