The Internet is a relatively new medium. What works for you in your printed offline brochures and advertising materials may or may not work on your web page. If you have already invested either time or money or both in your website you should carefully scrutinize the written words on your pages to see if they can really deliver a return on your investment. Here are five important questions to ask to when making a review of your website’s copy.
1. Can a web visitor quickly grasp what your page is all about?
You only have a short time to let your web visitors know the purpose of your website. If it is not crystal clear, they will have already surfed on to another website. Headlines and sub headings that convey your most important pieces of information are a must, especially for the main page of your site.
Writing good headlines is a science in itself. Look at a newspaper, almost every headline has a verb. Headlines must be active, and they must be convincing. Marketeers and linguists alike have identified what they call “power words”, words that are emotive and draw attention like “breakthrough”, “new” , “discover.” Use these words to grip the attention of your web visitor. An excellent introduction to the science of headline writing is Shelley Lowery’s article or take a look at Ken Evoy's book Make Yours Words Sell and you will find a complete tutorial on the science of persuasive copywriting.
2. Is your “Unique Selling Proposition” highlighted?
There may be hundreds of websites offering the same thing that you are offering. What sets you apart? What is the distinguishing feature or benefit of your product that makes your product or service different and, most importantly, desireable? It may be one particular item, a combination of items or it may be the sum total of all that you have to offer. If you were a web hosting firm it might be “Worry Free Service at a Price You Can Afford.” This particular particular item is known as your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It is your biggest “cannon”, and you have to “shoot it” right at the top of your home page.
3. Have you clearly emphasized the benefits that a consumer will get from your products or services?
It is important for you to first distinguish the features and the benefits of your product or service. Using the example of the web hosting firm, some features might be user-friendly control panels, pre-installed cgi scripts, back up power supply, etc. Benefits are not the same as features, benefits deriving from these features would be: “Easy for you to maintain” and “you don’t have to worry about down-time.”
Remember, it is the benefits that sells your product or service, not necessarily the features. You must convincingly show that your product can answer the needs and desires of the person who has just visited your web page.
4. Is the copy optimized so that your pages will do well in search engine queries?
Optimization for search engines is something that traditional advertising copy writers never had to deal with. No matter how convincing your copy is, if no one can find your page then it is useless. Be careful not to hide your keywords with synonyms. If you want to be found for a particular word or phrase, then make sure that this word or phrase is in your headlines, in the body text and in clickable text (“anchor text”) of links on your page. For example, if you have the sentence: Click Here to Learn more about our Web Hosting Services. The clickable or active portion of the link should not be the words “click here” but rather your keywords, “Web Hosting Services”. If your copy doesn’t contain and emphasize your keywords, your page will not fare well in Internet queries, even if your meta tags include these words and phrases.
5. Is there a call to action?
What is your “most wanted response”? What do you want the surfer to do after she or he has seen your pages? Maybe you would like her to order your product, download an introductory ebook, to join your mailing list, to fill out a form, or to call you up for an appointment? You can’t expect her to do this, unless you ask her to do it and show her how to do it. You may need a nice button that says “Order Now”, or a sub headline that says “Download your Free ebook.” The “call to action” is very important and that’s why you should make it prominent, and repeat it more than once.
So, take a look at your website, and make sure that your copy is really doing the job of capturing the attention of your web visitors, convincing them about the merits of your offering, and showing them how to take the next step.
Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. Hehas been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com), a firm providing low cost search engine optimization, submission and web promotion services.