When writing, if your goal is conversions from either a print or online campaign, you must provide compelling information that is clear, compelling and convincing. If a high search engine ranking is also one of your goals, you must appeal to the search engine spiders that scan the Internet for content and rank Website pages accordingly. This makes writing for the Web a bit more complicated than traditional copywriting. Following are four valuable tips to follow when copywriting for the Web.
Websites have become common marketing tools for companies to use to showcase the virtues of their products and services. Since the popularity of websites is fairly recent, there are not too many people who are trained to effectively write copy for the web. This leads to an interesting question: Is copywriting for the web really different from copywriting in general? Or can we continue to use what is “tried and true”?
The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think. Depending on who you ask, the answer could be yes…or no. We feel both are right. It’s the same, yet different.
One thing is for certain, everything is measurable on the Internet and when writing content for websites you will be looking for measurable results as well based on keywords, because that is what the search engine spiders are looking for. That makes copywriting for the Web very different, because now you will have to get into the mind of the searcher, and know what words they will be using. You would be surprised how different those words can be from what you might think. However, once you know what your theme is and what keywords you will be using, writing for the Web is almost like writing for print with just a few extra rules. Google’s algorithm, Hummingbird, is supposed to understand the relationships between the words, so think “semantically related” when choosing your words.
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords!
As you probably know, not many people using the web today search for just one word. Instead, they input a whole string of words to get targeted results and find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. The first rule in writing for the Web, therefore, is to find out what keyword phrases people are using to search for the products or services your company provides. This means you must do your research. For in depth “keyword mining” and to really get a feel for your audience, I recommend also using other tools found on the Internet, both free and paid. These tools will give you insight into what keywords and keyword phrases are best to use.
After you know what keywords phrases you are going to target, the next step is to incorporate them into your webpage content. Do not worry too much about using the phrase multiple times; you just want it to appear throughout the content. You can also break up the phrase into its word components and use them separately. Try not to go overboard though by repeating them to the point that they distract your readers. Ultimately you are writing for your human audience; just don’t forget to use your keywords and related keyword phrases throughout your copy.
Another rule is to target only one topic per web page. You can use a few keywords and keyword phrases to describe that topic, but stay focused as you are writing. Since the web is used primarily to find information, content of about 400-600 words is preferred, and you want to shoot for at least 250 words per page. Be sure your keywords are interspersed throughout and it is clear to human visitors as well as search engine spiders what each web page is about.
If you are selling furniture, for example, list sofas and armoires on two different pages and use several keywords to describe them. For example, in addition to “armoire”, you might also feature keyword phrases such as “solid wood computer armoire”, “entertainment armoires” or “entertainment center”. Using multiple but related keywords on a page helps develop the “theme” for that page without using one phrase over and over again.
Play Fair, or Else!
The search engines frown upon deceptive techniques. Take a look at Google Webmaster guidelines and become familiar with them. Try them and you could find yourself dropped from the search engine databases like a hot potato. If it seems like Web “trickery,” it probably is. Always stick to your code of ethics and trust your better judgment when writing copy for the web. For more information there are many good Web writing articles available online like this one: Writing for Search Engines by Chris Sherman, Associate Editor, Search Engine Watch.
Another thing to think about is your ability to do copywriting for the web. Even if you consider yourself to be a good writer, it doesn’t hurt to have someone else edit your content. Two heads are better than one and you can always choose not to use someone else’s suggestions.
Sometimes all you have to do to get good rankings is create keyword-rich content, titles and meta tags. If you use the KISS principle and keep it simple, develop quality compelling content, and create a better overall experience for your visitors, your pages may become immune to search engine algorithm changes that have been known to drop highly ranked sites in the blink of an eye.
Copywriting is an art, especially when it comes to developing content for the web. When applied with a little science, professional copywriting for the web can prove to be one of the best investments you can make for your website.