Web Copywriting: It's Not About You

So, you've got your shiny new website prepped and ready to go. It looks fantastic. Nice new logo, lots of white space, great navigation. What's not to love?

Well, imagine that beautiful website with no words. Or with lorem ipsum filler copy. Who's going to pick up the phone? Nope, for a website to be truly effective, its content must be as well-thought-out as the design.

Let's look at a few ways you can go wrong with that content.

1. It's not about you

Any copywriter who's worked in-house among product champions will tell you it's too easy to start writing about your company, rather than what your company can do for the client. It's easy to slip into – you have a great product, so why whisper about it?

Well, the truth is that your audience does not give a monkey's how long it took to develop, how big the factory is, or that the company was founded in 1867. They just want an easier life or to make more cash. How can your product achieve that? Switch 180 degrees, put yourself in their shoes and ask 'What's in it for me?'

2. Being too subtle

Websites are no place to hide your light under a bushel. Some experts say you have eight seconds to capture a visitor's attention; Some are more generous, with 11. Whatever the true figure, it's at least clear that it's not long.

This means you have to hit your audience between the eyes. You need a headline that speaks to your audience's needs, that cites a pain point with which they can identify, or which promises a much-needed benefit.

You can learn a great deal from newspapers. Journalists are experts at putting the key information in their headline in just a few words. It's also a smart idea to use subheadings to break up the copy and to pull out key words and phrases. You'll also benefit SEO-wise from getting some good H2 keywords in there.

3. Unmega meta

Another howler people make with their websites is with the meta elements. This is the HTML coding that gets read by Google's robots. There are some meta tags that people read, too, though, and it's vital to get them right.

There's the meta title, which describes the page. It should be fewer than 65 characters. It's the thing that's visible in your browser tab. For Google, it's almost everything about your site. And Google is boss.

Then there's the meta description. This should be about 150 characters maximum. This is the block of copy that you'll find under the links on the Google results pages. It's not crucial for SEO purposes but it is key for converting browsers.

Google is pretty keen on meta titles. So this is where you put your top keyword phrases – as close to the start as you can. As for meta descriptions, well, they can make or break your site. So do not use too many keywords or big claims, but do add an incentive, like 15% off a first order. If you want local trade, include geographical information.

Remember – the best thing about tags is that you can change them whenever you want.

4. Short is always beautiful

In short, keep your copy short and to the point. Use paragraphs with a maximum of three sentences and four actual lines. Three or four paragraphs of copy if just fine. If you're struggling to cut it all back, try a professional copywriter . And always, always include a call to action like 'place an order', 'subscribe', 'get a quote' or 'find out more'.

So there we have it – a short guide to clear and concise web copy. One last point – words and pictures must always work together, so do not fall out with your web designer!