by Writing Angels
often hear that writing for the Web requires a very different
approach to offline copywriting. But what is it about writing
website content that makes it such a challenge?
Companies can spend thousands on the design of their
website, but when it comes to adding content many still
existing brochure text, or get the designer or someone
within their company to knock up some copy. But good design alone
won’t convince a visitor that you're an organisation
they will want to do business with. The quality
the copy on your website can make, or ultimately break, the
success of your site.
The difficulty with writing a website is there is so much to
consider over and above the words. The content needs
in terms of how it relates to the site’s structure; its design
and navigation, and the audience it's targeting. It has to grab
and retain the attention of the visitor, who on average will make
a decision to stay or leave in as little as a three-second
scan of the landing page. It also needs to mention
the right search terms frequently enough to gain a legitimately
high ranking with content-driven search engines such as Google.
Making your site work for you
Pulling all this together takes skill and
a real understanding of how the Web works. Inexperienced writers
tend to address website content in the same way they do a brochure,
printed material – they’re interactive, and that makes
the user unpredictable. The copy on your site has to work alongside
the navigation to lure the reader in, and direct them through
the site the way you want them to go.
Even including popular
search terms can cause a headache. The writer often has to
go against their natural writing style and repeat keywords throughout
the page text. What needs to be avoided, however, is such
repetition affecting the overall readability of the page itself.
Maximising the Web as a marketing tool
What's also critical is that your website copy doesn’t
just talk about the details of what you offer, but what benefits
this will bring the visitor. It’s
vital that whoever writes your site presents the crucial, differentiating
benefits of your approach and offering over and above your competitors – who
on the Web are only a click away.
The writer also needs to think through what company image you
want to project, and which market you want to attract, so
they can adopt the most appropriate style and tone throughout the
site. This is vital in ensuring that what you have to offer
convinces the audience you want to target. Setting this from the
outset also helps to
ensure that your site remains consistent no matter how much it
grows, or how many different authors contribute to it, in the future.
Writing for the Web is like writing any type of marketing material – it's
best done by creative writers that have a good understanding of
both the medium and the marketing behind it. But it's less
forgiving than any other vehicle. Make a mistake, or fail to fully
exploit the opportunity it presents you, and it can cost you not
only in wasted time, money and effort but unrealised sales and
Copyright © Writing Angels 2006
for the 10 questions you should ask your website copywriter
if you want a site that gets you results
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