Your web copy serves a number of purposes: it needs to inform your audience, guide them through your website, engage, entertain, and ultimately convert. So it is important to get it right.
Overall, the precise nature of your copy will depend on the message you wish to convey, and overall style and tone of your website. However, there are few traps that are all too easy to fall into if you are not on the lookout for uninspiring copy.
Fortunately, while making the following mistakes can quickly deter visitors from your website, they are easily remedied, and once you have learnt to recognise them, easily avoided.
1. Long-Winded Copy
When someone lands on your website, they want to find the information they seek quickly and easily. So if the first thing they see is a wall of text, they may just leave before giving your content a chance.
That’s not to say you can never use long-form copy on your site; of course you can! However, it should be engaging, interesting, and formatted in a reader-friendly manner. Keep your sentences short and your paragraphs bite-sized. Break down complex instructions into a few bullet points, and maybe throw in an image or infographic here and there to help illustrate your points.
2. Jargon and Vaguery
No one wants to read through a page of text only to feel like they know no more about the topic than they did beforehand. Of course, some more technical subjects will require the use of specialist language, and a little jargon in the right place should be just fine. However, this is no excuse for loading content with obscure terms, vague statements, or unnecessarily challenging language.
Similarly, you should try to avoid headlines and blanket statements that convey an unclear message. Phrases like “We are the best”, or “Your trusted advisors” tell the reader very little if you do not clarify what it is you do, or what sort of solutions you can offer.
Think about the message you want to convey, and set it out in clear terms. Everything else can be built around this message, or you can keep things simple and cut back on potentially redundant copy.
3. Typographical Errors
Poor grammar, sloppy punctuation, and spelling errors are common pet hates, and can instantly deter a new visitor to your website from continuing on. Typos are easily made, but they are also easily detected and removed, so don’t allow the standard of your copy to be brought down by a failure to proofread.
Not only does it look unprofessional when a website is loaded with errors, but it also appears that the business does not truly care about its content, and by extension its customers. This can have a severely negative impact on consumer trust, and on the overall reputation of your brand.
4. Self-Centred Copy
As harsh at it might sound, no one has come to your website to read about you. Even in your About section, the reader is less focused on your story than on how that impacts your ability to cater to their needs.
This is not to say you can never write in the first person, but where possible you should attempt to make the reader the focal point of your copy. For example, rather than telling readers “We put our customers first”, try “You are our number one priority”. This adds a sense of personalisation to the message, and makes the reader the focus of the statement.
This next copywriting faux pas goes hand in hand with the use of vague terminology. Commonly used statements include:
- Trusted professionals.
- Customer focused.
- Tailored solutions to your problems.
- Delivering a bespoke service.
Now, any or all of these could be true of your company. However, they are incredible generic and could be used for a huge number of industries and individuals. This makes your website seem less unique, less professional, and ultimately less trustworthy.
You can still use the above ideas, but rather than preserving the generic phrasing, tell your readers what you do and why you are better at it than any potential competitors.
6. Press Releases
Too many sites skimp on actual content and instead fill the space with press releases. Yet these brief snippets of news are, for the most part, useless to anyone other than journalists. They serve as more of an announcement of an event, rather than a report on said incident.
There’s nothing wrong with including some new-based posts if they are relevant to your website, or even promoting your own content with a press release. However, keep in mind that as standalone entities, press releases do very little for your audience, and may be better removed, or replaced with alternative content like informative & engaging blog posts.
7. Ineffective Calls To Action
Your CTAs need to make an impact. Their purpose is to act as the final impetus that converts a visitor into a customer, follower, or subscriber. Vague or generic CTAs such as “click here”, or worse, “submit” just won’t cut it.
Think about the connotations of the instruction your CTA gives, and also consider whether it tells the user what they will accomplish by following that instruction. Click here tells the reader very little, but “Click here for more awesome content”, or “Look! More articles this way” can be far more effective.
If your CTA doesn’t make it obvious what the user is expected to do, not only will they be less likely to be influenced by it, but it could even cause them to have less trust in your website. How do they know if that link or hotspot will take them to where they want to go?
As with all elements of your website, your CTAs need to be clear, concise, and in keeping with the personality of your brand. This makes navigation easier for your audience, builds trust, and gives you a far better shot at securing conversions.
Writing great web copy is a skill that you will develop with time and practice. Even so, if you take care to avoid the bad habits described above, you will already be a step ahead of many of your competitors.
Keep an eye on customer feedback, and take the time to read through your website from the point of view of a new visitor. This will help you to determine where your site still needs work, as well as where your copy is really hitting the mark.
Eventually, you will develop a keen sense of your audience’s needs and expectations, enabling you to evolve your website in line with the changing requirements of your customers, and the ever increasing demands of the online market.
About the Author:
Victoria Greene is a freelance writer and ecommerce business growth guru. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and marketing. She is passionate about using her experience to help businesses grow their brand.