10 Tips for Writing Great Web Copy (part 2)   February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009

[Cont'd from yesterday's post]

4.   Nail the site map before you start writing

In the kitchen of web design, cookin’ and eatin’ are usually simultaneous processes. Ideally the cookin’ part – the site map, architecture, design mockups, and seo (search engine optimization) keyword lists – are completed before the copywriting starts. Of course life is messy, and rules are meant to be broken, so your process may vary. Just remember, great copy usually happens around a good plan and a logical development flow.

5.   Set a budget

Great copy requires a financial commitment.  To help you connect ROI to cost, try comparing the copy quality of top websites in your industry with less successful sites. Then get your checkbook out.

6.   Determine your style

Whether you intend to outsource or not, you’ll want to think about what style would be most effective for your site. Define your audience. Know what special needs they have – maybe they’re highly technical (law, medicine, technology) or multilingual, or youthful and edgy or all of the above. Speak in their voice.

7.    Develop your Keywords and Phrases

The copywriter should understand the fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and write copy that is not only clear, interesting, concise, and persuasive, but that indexes well in Google, Yahoo, MSN, and the other search tools.  One caveat here – resist the over-zealous SEO types who think listing all the zip codes in American on your landing page constitutes good copy. In other words, SEO is important but providing clear, relevant, compelling copy to your target audience is your first priority.

8.  Sanity check your copy

If you’re reading this and you’re the copywriter, note that this step should definitely get delegated to others. This could be as simple as getting a fresh set of eyeballs to proof the copy, or as complex as a branding consultant can imagine, including executive reviews, department heads, proof readers, compliance departments, and composite focus groups. If budget is an issue, find the “Mary in accounting” in your life – who was a language major in college and writes screenplays on the side- to proof your stuff.

9.  Put a call to action (CTA) on every page

Ecommerce sites want you to buy, blogs want you to comment and click on their ads, brochure sites want you to subscribe to newsletters and tell your friends. But the call to action doesn’t stop there. Make sure every page on your site moves the visitor towards the ideal CTA for that page. If a page contains a white paper, the CTA might be, subscribe for “complete access to all white papers”, or “critique this paper”. If it’s a contact us page, the CTA might be the submit button and the resulting thank you page might have a CTA to view the products page.

[Check back Monday, Feb. 16 for the 3rd and final post on this topic - "10 Tips for Writing Great Web Copy"]

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