Website Copy and Grammar

By now, there should be no doubt in your mind about the power of content in increasing your website’s traffic and generating leads. However, content is only as effective as you need it to be if it matches your business goals

There are various types of copy and each possesses unique features, best suited for specific platforms and purposes. Sadly, many businesses go about creating or choosing copy for their promotional or online marketing campaign the wrong way and thus end up with unsatisfactory results.

The right step to choosing and crafting ideal copy to meet your goals begins with properly understanding and defining what it is you intend on accomplishing via copy. Is it to introduce a new product to customers, or enlighten potential customers, or some other reason? Whatever the case, understanding what you need copy for will put you in a better position to determine the best line of action towards accomplishing strategic goals for your business and/or website.

After defining and clearly understanding your goals comes the process of actually getting the copy you need. Choosing right type of copy requires asking some questions, whose answers will see you better placed to acquire copy that’s best tailored to suit the platform, audience and goal you have in mind.

Some of the questions you need to ask before formulating copy include:

  1. Do I need copy for long-term goals or short-term goals?

The majority of copy has a period of relevance. Copy about how to use a mobile phone that was useful 10 years ago will likely not be as useful in the present day, because of how the technology of mobile phones has changed. Also, some guides concerning how to optimise a website for SEO that was published five years ago might not be so accurate today, due to updates search engines such as Google have added to their algorithm.

Copy that is required for short-term goals usually consists of content that’s useful now and might be relevant for – at most – another year. After said time has passed, pages that contain such copy will likely experience less traffic, because visitors no longer have any use for such content unless it is updated. Such copy is usually about what’s currently trending or something that’s expected to occur in the very near future. Once that trend or event has passed, the copy becomes of little interest to most visitors. For example, copy for a themed promotion that’s currently ongoing on your website might be of little value once the promotion has passed.

On the other hand, copy that’s required for long-term goals has a longer shelf life and will remain relevant for a long time to come. Another feature of copy that’s crafted with longevity in mind is that it tends to have a more positive impact on a website’s SEO. This is because the page containing such copy will have consistent traffic which positively influences SEO.

If you need copy for a long term business strategy, crafting one that only focuses on the now and won’t be relevant within the next few months will very likely be ineffectual. Thus, it is important to research and understand what is consistently of interest to your target audience and craft copy along those lines.

  1. What platform will copy be published on?

Platform refers to where you intend on having copy published. For example, you might require copy for email marketing, for your website’s blog, or for social media. By knowing what sort of platform you need copy for, you can have the content crafted in a manner that will best suit the platform and appeal to the sort of audience that makes use of such a platform.

Different Platforms

Copy that’s required for a website blog tends to be lengthier and contain features such as links and so on. Copy that’s needed for email marketing needs to be shorter and punchier. The faster email marketing copy can get its point across, the better. Social media copy on the other hand is a bit more diversified, as different social media platforms require different types of copy. For example, what would make for good copy on Facebook will definitely not work on Twitter. This is because on Facebook, there is room for lengthier copy with images attached. On the other hand, Twitter copy is currently limited to about 140 characters, with efforts being made to upgrade it to 480 characters. This means copy for Twitter will be far shorter than what you’d need for a Facebook post.

By knowing what sort of platform you intend to publish copy to – for your long or short-term goals – you will be able to decide what sort of copy is right for your marketing or strategy.

  1. Who is my audience?

Knowing who makes up the majority of your customers places you in a better position to give your targeted audience exactly what they want. For instance, if your website’s targeted audience is a demographic of children between the ages of 6 and 16, copy that’s focused on politics is probably the last thing such they will be interested in. Also, if your targeted demographic is women over the age of 60, copy that’s about science fiction or body piercings will likely be a flop. This is why it is important to know exactly who you are talking to, so you can provide them copy that they will actually find interesting and compelling.

Once you identify the group of customers you intend on satisfying via your products or services, or the sort of demographic you’d like to appeal to via your website, you can begin researching what is of interest to members of such an audience and provide them with relevant copy. This will help avoid a high bounce rate on your website and instead increase conversion, as well as help generate more viable leads.

  1. How often do I need to publish copy?

You can’t keep posting copy simply for the sake of it, especially on social media. Each copy you publish has to be impactful in its own right. That is, every bit of copy you publish must share some useful information and must be engaging and compelling. If your brand becomes known on its website or social media pages for putting up what’s of no interest or value, it is likely you will start driving your audience away from – rather than towards – you. Evidence of this can be seen in a spike in people unsubscribing for your emails and a high bounce rate.

Keeping Your Email Subscribers

While it’s true that the more copy your website has, the better, it is important to keep in mind that quantity without quality can be highly disadvantageous to your business and your website in the long run. Thus, publish copy as often as you can, but ensure each copy is optimised, compelling and engaging.

Also, if you need copy for email marketing, you need to understand that bombarding your subscribers on a regular basis with several emails can be very off-putting. So, unlike your blog or social media pages, where you can publish as much as you want in a day, email marketing should be well spaced enough to avoid annoying a recipient, but not so far spaced that a recipient forgets who you are before the next email.

  1. Do I need a professional copywriter, a freelancer, or will I create copy myself?

There’s nothing stopping you from creating copy yourself, but keep in mind that the time and effort you put into keeping your website or social media pages fresh and exciting are resources you can actually focus on other aspects of your business. To save you trouble, you can work with a freelancer to help you generate the right type of content for your website. However, freelancers are not always dependable and at times do not possess the specialty or expertise to create the right type of content for your purposes.

On the other hand, you can talk to a professional copywriting firm such as us. A professional copywriting firm will have various writers with different specialised skills and the knowledge to create content that’s best tailored to serve your needs. By working with a professional, you will also have access to copy that is not only engaging and compelling, but is also optimised for search engines in every way that matters.

Some of the types of copy we frequently produce for our clients include blogs, articles, micro-copy, press releases, e-commerce copy, technical copy, SEO copy, advertising copy and much more.

By asking yourself the questions in this guide, you will be better able to get the right type of copy to suit your personal or business needs. Having the right copy ensures that your audience are better engaged and compelled to perform the actions desired of them, which in turn boosts your conversion rate as well as lead generation.

 

  25 of The Most Common Writing Mistakes on Websites

     1. Overusing Adverbs and Adjectives

Think about which sentence is more effective: “This product is effective and gets the job done” or “This really great product is very effective and really gets the job done super well.” Not only do the extra adverbs and adjectives fail to make the product seem any better, but they actually cause a little mistrust around both the product and the seller. The overuse of adverbs and adjectives makes the pitch seem unprofessional, as if the retailer is trying too hard to convince the reader, rather than being confident in the product’s ability to sell itself.

      2. Comma Splicing

Writers often push two separate sentences together with a comma, when really they should remain apart. Make sure you know when to end one sentence and being the next. For instance, “She had a dog, it was red.” is a comma splice. It should read “She had a dog. It was red.”

      3. Using Too Many Buzzwords

The audience doesn’t want to feel like you are selling to them, even if you are. Words like “synergy,” “eco-friendly,” and “natural” have lost their meaning. Be more specific and your audience will trust you more. If the product contains less harmful chemicals than the leading brand, say exactly that, rather than just vaguely toting that it is “eco-friendly.”

      4. Using a Passive Voice

“Your carpets will be cleaner” is much less effective than, “This will clean your carpets!” Using an active voice engages your audience and is more effective at getting your point across. A passive voice puts your audience to sleep and screams of a lack of confidence in the product.

       5. Forgetting Your Audience

Writers sometimes forget that a real person will read their articles (hopefully). Today, there is so much emphasis on search engine optimisation, having a certain percentage of unique content, and packing in as many keywords as possible, that writers forget to actually write for a human, not a search engine. Quality content, that benefits the intended audience, really is the best way to generate traffic. Think about your audience first, before concentrating on SEO.

       6. Formatting Errors

Paying attention to paragraph structure and sentence placement is important. No one wants to read a giant block of text on the screen. Format paragraphs into bite-size chunks of information and you’ll keep your audience’s attention until the very end.

        7.  Not Proofreading

Today there is a big emphasis on creating large quantities of content as fast as possible. Time is money, and for writers, the faster they write, the more money they make. However, it’s always worth it to take the time to proofread. Quality trumps quantity every time, especially when it comes to convincing writing. Providing slipshod work full of typos and typos will not help the writer, your business or your audience.

        8. Misusing Quotation Marks

Quotation marks have a place: when quoting someone, word for word, not when the writer wants to indicate irony. Saying the company is having a big “sale” causes confusion in the reader – is the sale not real? Writers often mistakenly use quotations when they want to indicate emphasis of a word or phrase, but this is an astoundingly incorrect usage.

        9. Space Filling

Trying to meet word requirements has created a rise in writers creating filler content. This includes: repeating points they’ve already made, in slightly different ways, stuffing sentences with extra adverbs and adjectives and adding unnecessary detail. All of these space-filling techniques bog down the writing and decrease the quality.

       10. Assuming Your Reader is Not Intelligent

Your audience is probably just as intelligent as you are. If you can see through your writing, so can they. Space-filling, repetition, and salesman-like vernacular will stick out like a sore thumb and annoy your audience. It’s always instantly clear when a writer assumes that his or her audience is not very smart – there’s no quicker way to lose their attention.

      11. Sounding Fake or Salesman-like

“You won’t believe your eyes when you see the results!”

“Act now, before this exclusive offer ends!”

Do these sounds familiar? They will to your reader too, and it’ll likely be reflected in their lack of business and trust.

      12. Using the Wrong Word

A good writer must know the difference between “its” and “it’s”, “there,” “they’re,” and “their,” “then” and “than,” “affect” and “effect”, and many other common confused homophones. Unfortunately, however, a shocking amount of them do not. If you are unsure about the spelling of a word, look it up!

     13. Switching Verb Tenses

Writing quickly often results in writers forgetting what verb tense they are writing in. Make sure you are consistent with your verb tenses to avoid confusing the reader. For instance “She went to the cafe and has eaten a sandwich” causes confusion concerning when she ate the sandwich – whether it was before or after she went to the cafe. The writer meant to say “She went to the cafe and ate a sandwich.”

     14. Over Capitalizing

Poor writers also tend to over capitalize when they want to emphasize, such as “This Product is really Great!” However, this is grammatically incorrect. “Product” and “Great” are not proper nouns and capitalizing them is not an accepted method of adding emphasis.

     15. Misusing Apostrophes

Apostrophes are used to show possession and indicate contractions. In the case of “It’s” and “Its,” the apostrophe version indicates the contraction “It is”, whereas “Its” shows possession. If you are unclear on when to use an apostrophe, don’t guess. “It’s her ice cream” and “It’s Karen’s ice cream” are correct, but “The cat plays with it’s ball” is not.

      16. Trusting a Spell Checker

Spell checkers will not catch everything. They often miss grammar and punctuation errors and will also miss typos if it creates a word which is grammatically correct, but not the word you meant. For instance, typing “work” instead of “word” would go unnoticed by a spell checker.

      17. Writing Too Informally

The formality of the piece depends on the audience and subject of your writing. Often writers will write too informally, using colloquialisms such as “ain’t” and “y’all,” and speaking to the audience on too familiar terms. In the context of writing web content for a professional business and advertising their services, this would be too unprofessional.

     18. Writing Too Formally

In contrast, writers will often write too formally for the audience. When writing blog posts, for instance, the tone should be friendly and engage the reader as if you were talking directly to them. Writing a blog post as if it was an academic essay will push the reader away. In short, know your audience and the context of the piece.

     19. Not Using a Grammar Book

Even spell checkers and grammar checkers slip up when it comes to grammar rules, never mind your own imperfect memory. Often, any long sentence will be flagged as a run on sentence, even if it is grammatically correct. Use a grammar book for rules you don’t know and avoid relying on the computer to tell you how to write.

     20.  Insincerity

Tone is more apparent in writing than most writers realise. If the writer is bored and playful whilst they are writing, it will show in the finished content. Think about what you really want to say and how you want it to come across before you start writing. Your honesty and sincerity will be appreciated.

     21. Fragmenting Sentences

Another common mistake writers make, when trying to create emphasis, is fragmenting sentences. “But see for yourself.” Is not a complete sentence, and fragmenting it to create emphasis is unacceptable.

    22. Ambiguous Pronouns

“The monitor and the keyboard are sleek and clean, and it works great” contains an ambiguous “it.” Does the monitor or the keyboard work great, or do they both? If there is ever a pronoun that could be ambiguous in your sentence, risk redundancy and use the noun you mean to indicate for clarity. “The monitor and the keyboard are sleek and clean, and the monitor works great” is much clearer and less confusing. The repetition is acceptable when needed for clarification.

     23. Unnecessary Detail and Descriptions

Padding writing with unnecessary detail and descriptions is a common error when writers are trying to meet a certain word count. When describing a dress for sale, writing, “The dress comes to about an inch above the knee, has a pattern of yellow flowers covering a blue background, and the flowers are about an inch apart from each other and contain five petals, each with a short stem descending from the centre petal” is more detail than anyone considering this dress would ever want, especially if there is a picture attached to the advert. It produces clunky, cluttered writing, and bogs down the reader.

     24. Too Much Repetition

Words, phrases, or sentences can all be repeated too much in the course of one article. Talking about how “great” a product is, because it has this “great” feature and does this “great” thing is just as annoying and meaningless to the reader as repeating that the deal “only lasts for two more days” every paragraph. Trust that the reader has a decent memory and keep the repetition to a minimum.

     25. Ineffective Anchor Words for Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are most effective when linked to anchor words that effectively communicate what the link is leading to. Instead of saying, “for a list of common writing mistakes, click here with the words “click here” as the linked text, write “Here’s a list of common writing mistakes making “list of common writing mistakes” the linked text. For clarity and SEO purposes, chose effective anchor words, and while you’re at it, avoid those common writing mistakes.

There is a general perception that professional writers have it all figured out where perfect grammar is concerned, truth is writers make mistakes and as much as they try to avoid them, it still pops up in their work. Writers need to remember that they are humans too and their passion for writing doesn’t make them perfect. We’ve put together a list of the most common grammatical errors professional writers make in their writing

  1. Apostrophes

It is confusing sometimes knowing where to use an apostrophe. The key is to remember that if you’re using an apostrophe to combine two words, the apostrophe should fall where the word would spilt. This error is common with the following words it is – it’s, We are – we’re, they are – they’re.

  1. When to use too/to/two

To: a preposition followed with a noun.

I am going to the restaurant.

These clothes belong to Sarah

Too: synonym for the word ‘also’

I love her too

I was at the mall too

  1. Overuse of Adverbs

A word or phrase that qualifies a verb or adjective usually ending in ‘ly’. If you use them sparingly that’s okay but overusing adverbs indicates weak verb choices, hence top writers use juicer verbs instead.

“Really awful” modifies the verb “bad” a better choice would be “appalling”.

  1. Cautious use of prepositional phrases

Prepositional phrases are the nouns or pronouns that follows the preposition to show location, direction or time. Excessive usage affects the wording of your writing so simplify where possible.

Wrong – The school bus came up the top of the hill

Correct – The school bus crested the hill

  1. Wrong use of words

These are words used in the wrong context; they sound the same with similar spelling and sometimes, the spell checker might not pick it up.

Sea/see

Weather/Whether

Cloth/clothe

Leave/live

  1. Split infinitives

When you split an infinitive, you insert an adverb between the two parts. It sounds correct because its’ been used for a long time and copywriters in advertising are sometimes guilty of this error. Writers should remove split infinitives from parts of the text that isn’t internal thought or dialogue.

Common split infinitives

To go boldly

To quickly go

To impatiently wait

In these verb phrases, the adverb should follow the verb. What is the target audience? How natural would the revision be with the adverb before the infinitive? Read the sentence out to know if it sounds better with the split infinitive.

  1. Subject-Verb Agreement

Singular verb should be used with singular subject and the same rules apply to plural verb. This might seem obvious but it is a common error with skilled writers to end a singular verb with the letter ‘s’

  1. Changes in tense

Your starting tense should remain consistent throughout the piece, although a change might be required to reflect changes in time but unnecessary shifts are unclear to the audience.

Wrong: when I go to bed at night, I always drank tea before sleeping.

Correct: When I go to bed at night, I always drink tea before sleeping.

  1. Spelling errors

Writers should have a spell checker on their PC, these are good tools for highlighting errors in your work. A recommended tool for professional writers is Grammarly, which offers a free plugin for Microsoft Word and some popular browsers like Mozilla Firefox. Some common words include Accommodate, access, chauffer, embarrass, address, ecstasy and many more.

  1. Dangling Modifiers

Grammatical error that occurs when an adverb, adjective or modifying phrase is used in a sentence but the modifier is unclear.

Wrong: Listening to loud noise slowly gives me a headache

Correct: when I listen to loud noise, I slowly develop a headache

  1. Contractions

Contractions join with pronouns or verbs and a verb contraction shortens a verb phrase or verb.

Wrong: ain’t

Correct: am not or is not

  1. Avoid vague statements

Quantify your sentences where possible, vague statements lack credibility and are open to misinterpretation.

Wrong: Microsoft made huge profits last year

Right: Microsoft made a profit of $250million in 2016.

  1. Comparison: using “like” instead of “as though”

The two words are not exchangeable. Like, can only be followed with a pronoun or noun. As though precedes verb clause because it creates the expectation of an event that is action based.

  1. Pronoun case

Pronoun case describes the status of the pronoun as a direct object, indirect object or subject. Writers sometimes use the subjective case where the objective should be used.

Subject: I, we, he, they, who

Object: me, us, him, them, whom

  1. Double Negatives

While most languages possess double negatives, Standard English forms do not. Unfortunately, this is a popular trend for sarcasm or emphasis.

Wrong: He don’t know nothing about the robbery

Correct: He doesn’t know anything about the robbery.

  1. Sentence Structure

Correct sentence structure confuses the most experienced writers. The proverb of knowing the rules before breaking them is invaluable here to understand that sentence structure is not rigid and it will continue to change.

  1. Sentence splices

To splice is to join so when a writer joins independent sentences with a comma instead of coordinating conjunction, that’s a sentence splice.

Incorrect: We have hundreds of clothes to arrange, it will be impossible to finish it before the exam.

Correct: We have hundreds of clothes to arrange; it will be impossible to finish it all before the exam.  

  1. Run-On Sentences

This is a type of sentence that combines comma splices, fused joins or conjunctions two or more independent linking clauses.

Wrong: Peter enjoyed the guitar Amanda gave him at his birthday however he prefers a piano.

Correct: Peter enjoyed the guitar Amanda gave him at his birthday; however, he prefers a piano.

  1. Inflated sentences

Communicate your message to readers using direct words instead of empty sentences that muddle up your message. Wordy sentences are annoying and frustrating because readers have to look for the passage instead of seeing it once they start reading your work. Streamline your sentences with nouns and strong verbs, not adverbs or trite adjectives.

Wrong: It has come to our attention that your utility bills are overdue and we ask you to pay them at your earliest convenience to avoid disconnection.

Correct: Your utility bills are overdue. Pay now to avoid disconnection.

  1. Incorrect irregular verb use

Grammar error with irregular verb forms are common in articles written by university graduates and media journalists.

Incorrect: Sanchez is alleged to have went into Peter’s room and stolen that some shirts.

Correct Sanchez is alleged to have gone into Peter’s room and stolen some shirts.

  1. Tautologies

When you express the same thing twice with different words, that’s’ tautology.

Wrong: John made a kite with his own hands for Diana

Correct: John made a kite for Diana

  1. Sentence Fragments

This is a dependent phrase or clause used by a writer as a complete sentence. The best rule is to see if the fragment sounds right in a defined text.

Wrong: Michael listened for the sound of crickets, nothing; there was none of the usual sounds of night, absolute silence.

Correct: Michael listened for the sound of crickets. Nothing. There were none of the usual sounds of night. Absolute silence.

  1. Semicolons and Commas

Some writers do not use commas in their work. This is safe for simple sentences but complex constructions require the occasional use of semicolon. The problem is the reckless insertion of comma after every couple of words.

  1. Incomplete comparisons

Wrong: My boat is bigger, cheaper and better.

Right: my boat is bigger, cheaper and better than Phil’s.

  1. Coincidence/irony

Do not make assumptions for the latter when it is the former. Irony is the expression of one’s meaning and the real meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning, usually for an emphatic effect. Coincidence is when an event happens by chance. There is a clear distinction between the two so avoid mixing it up.

Google

When you want your articles to appear at the top of Google’s search results there’s only one way: you need to think like Google; or rather you need to understand the Google algorithm and approach to rankings. It is not so much that the good old SEO methods have become totally obsolete, they almost have; cramming keywords into titles and slugs into WordPress posts is definitely not the way to your increase your ranking these days. You now need to structure your site and write content for the search engine’s Semantic Algorithms and Semantic Search.

So what exactly is Semantic Search?

It is the latest approach, designed to turn Google from an index-based model into a predictive one. In other words, the company doesn’t want to simply find the words you just typed into its search box and match them to websites anymore. It now wants to find what you intended to know. There is a dramatic shift in approach, one perfectly illustrated by the new knowledge graphs for example.

You can try it yourself: typing ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Birthday’ into Google will not only reveal the standard list of websites containing the requested information, but first and foremost a box containing the date in clear writing. (April 15, 1452, in case you’re wondering.) This is the perfect demonstration of Google’s understanding of what you meant to search for. The engine is clever enough to know you were looking for a date rather than the word ‘birthday’. It also guesses you are likely interested in learning more details about Leonardo Da Vinci through a short biography, picture or info on the period during which he lived and died.

Semantic Search not only manages to pull information about people, but also about ideas and concepts. Google is now becoming increasingly accurate in looking for synonyms and answering questions such as ‘How do I fix my bike’s light’ or ‘How do I bake gluten-free cakes.’ Once again, the top websites might not necessarily contain the full search string, but they will definitely give you some of the best answers to the questions.

So what does it all mean for your own website content? Well, there are a few rules, tips and tricks you can implement to please Google’s bots with your copy.

  1. Answer the questions your visitors might have

Rather than have a dry wall of information try to imagine what visitors to your site might want to find. Don’t just write ‘Napo Bros: Neapolitan Pizza, open every evening’. Imagine a little FAQ in which you answer the following questions: what kind of produce do I offer? What days of the week am I available? Do I offer delivery, if so, how far? Then turn all this information into a few paragraphs of text. Thinking about what your visitors are looking for is the best way to make sure they like what they find.

  1. Stop obsessing over keywords

Once you’ve decided on the keywords you want your text to contain, don’t worry about every adjective, permutation or variation you can write based on these words. Think instead about synonyms that might not have been as fully exploited by other article writers, then use these synonyms throughout your text. Have seed keyword themes running through your site, and think about the categories your site falls under. A good place to go to start understanding themes is the Dmoz directory. Alchemy.api is another really useful tool.

Google will understand that those looking for ‘Cheap car mechanic will also want results for ‘Cheap auto mechanic’. You don’t need a page for each word.

  1. Match your tone to your target audience

It’s common sense- if you are hoping to provide professional advice then write it professionally. If you are writing about entertainment, write it in a fun, engaging way. Not only is it good practice, but it will also help you develop ideas to get your visitors more engaged. You are then more likely to hit upon the right semantic themes if you are assuming the correct voice.

In conclusion, you need to think like Google to understand how it sees your content. Google is trying to rank content based on what your audience wants. You can pretty much do some theme, seed and keyword research and then forget Google- write for your target audience. Get inside their heads and you are going to have success with the new world of semantic search.

At Daily Posts we produce website page copy for clients all over the world. We have web design firms who come to us and ask us to create the content for the sites that they build. We have lots of brands request a content refresh, or series of new landing pages. Some see a 100% increase in conversions after the process. Each project is unique, but there are commonalities that seem to run like ubiquitous strands through the most successful converting sites. In this piece we investigate language, format, voice, and how certain words are infused with power, capture attention and drive consumer action.

The power of a single word

The power of a single word

Website page copy is a relatively technical form of copy writing. At the same time, the words that work best are often very simple. They are words that have emotional impact. Words that engage the reader at the basest level. No, I’m not just talking about sex, although that does definitely work. I am talking about words that motivate the reader to act; that tap into the natural human tendency to be impulsive  in online environments.

The Language of Purpose

There are many choices you make when you talk online; choices made either consciously or unconsciously. With your website copy you can stamp your style on your messages. However, you need to be mindful that brand consistency is key, and that you therefore need to fit all content you produce with your brand voice. A first step therefore in your copy writing journey for any site is to work out that voice.

The right way to get your business’ message across will be different from how another business should get its across. It will also be somewhat different between your landing pages, product descriptions, and newsletters. The words you choose should be geared to the format,  tailored not only to the reader, but also to the intended purpose of the website content.

The language you choose can lead to an engaged, motivated visitor base, or can lead to high bounce rates. As the old adage goes “it’s not just what you say {that’s important}, it’s also the way that you say it!”

At Daily Posts we talk a lot about the purpose of content, and focusing on the reader. That’s because they are crucial forerunners to developing content that makes an impact. You will notice these two threads running through much of what follows. If you don’t have a handle on the purpose of the content you are writing, and the characteristics of your readership, then you might as well go straight back to the drawing board. Language choice flows from and through these literary threads.

General rules are normally over-rated, pointless, impractical, and even misleading; we don’t like them very much. However, a general rule that we do like is to ‘keep web pages simple’. Very few website visitors have either the patience or inclination to read through paragraph after paragraph of highly technical content. If the reader is doing research, or is a distinctly techie type, then technical language may be appropriate, in moderation. Generally (there’s that word again), heavy language is best reserved for your in-depth reports, whitepapers, and technical guides, not to convert your prospects.

Here are a few web page copy guidelines to review before we delve further into language:

  • The entire body of copy should use the same voice and tone. It should be authored in full by a writer, and not a re-write of other sources. Re-writing steels creativity and power from the process. When producing content, research, understand and write.
  • The writing must not be overly analytical or technical, nor should the page focus on explaining terminology in layman terms. It should be written for the level at which the visitors are interested. If you are unsure on this then do some demographic research. If there is a diverse bank of visitors, representing different levels of linguistic and technical knowledge, then write for lower levels and provide extra resources (PDFs, links to blog articles, hidden extra information) to satisfy their craving for more comprehensive understanding.
  • The way in which the content is arranged and displayed is vital. Long blocks of text are going to turn people off, whilst website content that can be read with ease will enable you to keep the reader’s attention much more easily.

Many of the rules of copy writing are straightforward, but are forgotten the moment someone starts typing. Bad habits creep in due to fatigue, exposure to other people’s bad habits, laziness; there are a plethora of reasons really. Typos, run on sentences, bad research, lack of flow, and all the other consequences of these bad habits, quickly deflect reader attention away from your content, and ultimately away from your site.

A writer must cling on to every ounce of attention a reader can muster. To do this the writer must also draw out the reader’s emotions. From a website copy perspective, impulse and desire are two key emotions to hit. These are often triggered through ‘power words’ that help to persuade the reader to feel a certain way.

These mentally and emotionally charged words are seen and heard every day; they aren’t secret.

Here are five power words that can have a great impact in website copy.

  • “Free” – who doesn’t like free stuff!
  • “You” – the only thing people prefer to read more than you is their own name. It gives the writer authority as a guide.
  • “Because” – this creates a ‘reason’, a motivation, and allows the writer to solve the age old question that readers have wired in their brains, “what’s in it for me?”
  • “Instantly” – because when results take time there’s no reason to act right away.
  • “New” – the most recent version of anything is the “interesting” version of an outdated something.

Turning Power Words into Call-To-Actions

The purpose of power words is not to stuff them into your website content whenever you have the chance. It’s to draw out that emotion, and to entice the reader to act. Ultimately power words are there to induce a conversion or engagement.

A call-to-action is crucial. Take advantage of the use of power words when crafting your call-to-action.

Not sure how? Here are some examples that use the power words from above.

  • “For a limited time, take advantage of a free one month’s supply!”
  • “You want to get good at golf but don’t know where to start – how about our free beginner’s guide?”
  • “A 7-day Disney cruise is calling your name, because you’ve earned it!”
  • “Get our detox pills and instantly see an improvement in your energy levels!”
  • “Our new WordPress themes have features that you have never seen before!”

None of these are anywhere near perfect. We can’t give away all our secrets here; but they should give you a flavour for the power that language has to inspire action. You want to lead the reader into an action. Being direct works best. You let their mental and emotional selves read through the lines, then hit them with a direct call-to-action. It really is true that “if you don’t ask you don’t get.”

Learning how to create a call-to-action that converts is absolutely vital to the productivity of your copy. Quality website content is one thing, but without a killer call-to-action it will be nothing more than an engaging read.

When creating content take time to plan.  Think about voice,  format,  audience motivations and call to actions. The quality of your content can be the defining factor in your success or failure. Don’t waste your time… Do it right or get experts to do it for you if you can’t.