Website Copywriters Walk Backwards To Christmas

When a would-be client calls and says: “We just want the Home page writing,” I always give the kind of introspective nod that would send shivers down the spine of the suicide squad.  Of course, I’m on the phone, so no-one has an inkling.  Visible or not, however, upon hearing those immortal words that will haunt me into the copywriters’ graveyard, I know right away that I should’ve written the definitive, all-knowing article on website copywriting LONG AGO – the one that explains, very patiently, that you can’t, don’t, won’t, shouldn’t write the Home page of a website first.  Not in a month of Sundays. Yes, I know the Home page is allegedly the most important page on any website, that it usually has the most visits, links and everything else.  That’s exactly why this prime piece of online real estate is deserving of a little more respect! Website owners: take responsibility! Think about this very carefully.  For a micro-second if you will… If you’re fortunate enough to have lots of website traffic, it’s likely – as we’ve said – that much of it will arrive at your Home page. Conventional wisdom has it that online visitors coming to your site have to be grabbed by the eyeballs in a matter of seconds.  If not, they’ll click off and head for the competition. Simple logic suggests, therefore, that the expectant surfer who’s arrived on your Home page will need to like what they see.  More to the point, they will need to see that the web page before them matches whatever it was they were looking for. So we’re... Read more...

Website Copywriting – A Street View

If the way websites work is totally alien to you – worry not, help is at hand.  And if you know next-to-nothing about website copywriting, this article will provide a good starting point for you to turn things around. Whilst it’s true that website copywriting may seem like an obscure topic to many people, there may come a time when you need to know more – or even get involved with the writing process yourself! That’s why it makes sense to find out what website copywriting involves.  Whether or not you want to become an exponent yourself is very much a personal choice.  Speaking as a freelance copywriter, I have a somewhat weighted view of the whole subject. Ironically, it’s the very skills I acquired over many years of copywriting that have convinced me everyone in business should at the very least understand the principles of web copywriting and its potential as a marketing tool. As with any learning curve, it’s important to start with a general overview of the subject and then drill down to the specifics.  In this case, you’re looking at the context in which websites operate, together with the influences that affect their success, or otherwise. When it comes to using actual copywriting techniques, it’s important to bear in mind that – almost more than any other marketing tool – websites do not work in isolation.   To begin at the beginning… Online marketing is complementary to offline marketing.  That much is obvious.  How online marketing skills are deployed depends on how responsive the market is to the overtures that online marketing makes.  In general,... Read more...

SEO Climate Change – When Penguins Might Fly

We all know that Google has been frantically trying to improve the validity and value of its search results through a sequence of recent ‘Updates’ including Panda and Penguin.  We also know that Google includes elements of semantic search in its algorithms. What very few people discuss is how the physical practice of making an online search could be improved.  Given that search engines are beginning to understand the meaning of text on website pages when its ‘bots do a crawl, it’s logical to ask whether keywords are really up to the job of best interpreting and reflecting the semantic possibilities? This article is intended as a discussion point only.  In no way does it set out to prove a point or claim any great revelation.   A lot of academic work has been done on search methodologies – including semantic search – so there’s nothing new under the sun (as they say!).  The search engines themselves are continually claiming breakthroughs in this field, with more accurate search results being their ultimate aim. One perspective they do not and cannot bring to the table is that of a coal-face creative in the shape of a website or SEO copywriter.  Having been involved in website and SEO copywriting for a number of years, I’ve witnessed the rise and fall in the importance of keywords and the ways in which they have been aggrandised and devalued in turn. At a practical level, I’ve never heard what mainstream or online marketing professionals think about the current keyword search system.  Whilst it’s true that keywords have been demoted in the SEO stakes (even to... Read more...

Website Copywriting, Keyword Shuffling and the Visible, Video Future

It’s not that long ago when clients would say they wanted a ‘keyword density’ of three, four or five per cent in their website copywriting.  That gradually changed into a preference for ‘making the copy flow – and don’t worry about the keywords’.  That has changed yet again to placing the emphasis on ‘quality content’, and the improved link building that results from it. Keywords are still important – even if not at densities of five per cent!  Attractive, flowing copy will always be important to the user experience, irrespective of keywords.  Similarly, making sure that the user experience is maximised by providing quality content is nothing new – and link building itself has always been a pillar which supported SEO efforts.   What HAS changed is the emphasis on certain aspects of website copywriting.  Look a little deeper and you will notice that Google’s preference for ‘quality content’ has extended to the more visual aspects of the web such as videos, charts and so on.  In addition, by rewarding original content – including research results or the various strands of   ‘thought leadership’ – we are seeing a move towards a new kind of search reality.  For long enough, we’ve seen web content that simply re-cycles the status quo.  As long as it read well and included the necessary keywords, a web page would rank.  To its credit, Google is trying to change that.   Linking Thinking Issues…   The issue of ‘links’ and link building is more contentious.  Current thinking has it that it’s only ‘high authority’, relevant links that will cut the mustard.  Links in themselves lend... Read more...

Strategic Website Copywriting – Feel Your Online Pulse (Part 2)

When it comes to all the issues surrounding website copywriting – such as search engine optimisation (SEO); link building; and creating original, quality content – no single copywriter can hope to do justice to the number of options available.  To ram home the point: for a website to see higher search engine rankings; generate respectable levels of visitor traffic; and benefit from effective landing pages that deliver high rates of sales conversions – a new strategic approach to online copywriting is called for. Website copywriting is a broad term encompassing the content of a website page and the meta tags hidden in the HTML coding which are not visible to website visitors.  It also includes those elements which generate inbound links back to the site and therefore improve the rankings of the various pages on a website.  We’re talking here about things like articles, news releases, blog posts and so on, all of which link back directly to a specific website which could also be described as an ‘online hub’ for a particular company or organisation. To maximise the number of links going back to the central website (or hub), it’s important that the various ‘off -page’ copywriting activities are optimised with the necessary keywords to generate relevant links.  The better the quality of the article, news release and so on – and the better they are promoted – the more links will be generated.  Search engines see links as ‘votes of confidence’ in the perceived importance and quality of a web page.  This will be rewarded accordingly with higher rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs). You... Read more...

Strategic Website Copywriting – Feel Your Online Pulse (Part 1)

Have you checked the quality of your website copywriting recently? If not, there’s no better time than the present to conduct a complete ‘health check’ of all your online copywriting activities – and how they fit together. A lot of businesses don’t understand why they should take a strategic approach to online or website copywriting. To most, copywriting is a fairly peripheral thing. At best, it’s seen as part of the online marketing process and will probably take care of itself as part of a website design or search engine optimisation (SEO) brief. And yet, with so much resting on the success of a company’s website – through its rankings and sales conversion rates – it’s almost negligent not to take copywriting seriously. For many people in business, this would require a massive change in mindset. Traditionally, copywriting was the clever stuff that went into ads or sales letters, or – at a more Cinderella level – the words that filled brochures and catalogues. That has all changed. Online marketing budgets are growing to meet the potential of online consumer demand. With it, we’ve seen an explosion in SEO, website design and usability techniques. That’s all fine. Copywriting may also have grown in terms of content volume, but what we haven’t seen is a greater focus on the quality and effectiveness of copywriting, especially in the ways it can interact most effectively with other online elements. To any clear-sighted business person, it should be obvious that addressing this situation will pay big dividends. Monitoring a Moving Target The number of pages on the web has increased exponentially. Competition to... Read more...