Reminder: it’s for people, not search engines.
Because people are reading it, search engines are just crawling it. Search engines are, after all, just a big, fat, ever changing set of rules. They’re not going to buy your stuff.
Why am I stating the bleeding obvious? Because I think in the endless (and very worthwhile) quest for good search engine results, we forget what happens beyond the Google search. This: a person reads your copy and decides (based on what they’ve read ) whether to stay on your website or head back out to the internets.
Brian Clark said it in 2010 and I’ll bet he was saying it long before then too. And he’s still saying it.
Consider your website.
You may have worked hard on your SEO and rank well for your keywords. You may have a great site and are a great networker but not so good at SEO. In either case you must consider the possibility that your reader may not have come via a Google search.
- They may have found you on social media
- They may have met you at an event and used your business card to type in your URL
- They may even have emerged, blinking from an internet rabbit hole and found your article is the first one they’ve read all morning that really resonates.
These people are all keen to find out more about your business and the goods or services it provides. They want to be welcomed, convinced, satisfied and filled with desire for whatever it is you’re offering them.
And if they do come through Google?
If your visitor does come via a search engine results page (SERP), causes them to click through to your site (or not), is the meta description (or snippet) that Google displays. Those magic 150 or so characters are all you have to make this potential customer take the next essential step.
Imagine if your site came up, but didn’t compel the reader to click, because the copy was written for a robot! Once they go back and put in different keywords they may never find you again. And people are far more likely to restart their search than go beyond page one of results? Yep, 75% of searchers never go past page one. They simply put in different keywords and search again.
So you better make that snippet appealing to people. You should probably make it sensational. Do it even if you’re not on page 1, because one day you might be.
The rest of your site should be just as people friendly whether you’re expecting visitors through social media links or search engine results, or even typing in your name or URL. Your site should be written to turn visitors into enquirers, making it easy for people to find out about your business, make contact with you and become your customer.
Here are a few tips to make your copy people friendly:
Avoid jargon You may know a lot about your field. But you cannot assume your readers will. Unless you are supremely confident that the only readers of your site will be people with the same background knowledge as you, keep the copy simple and jargon free.
Use short paragraphs.
On the web, large blocks of text don’t really work. Do they work anywhere? Most readers only read the first few sentences of a paragraph. So if yours are only 2-3 sentences long, you’ll capture most of their attention.
Mix up sentence length.
Short sentences can be very effective. They can make a point strongly. But you need to mix up your sentence lengths for your copy to have a good flow. A paragraph of short choppy sentences reads as poorly as a large paragraph made up of only one sentence.
If there’s a simpler word, use it.
You’re not trying to be a professor, you’re trying to sell something. You, or your products. Your site vistors are in a hurry and they don’t need to be decoding your fancy words.
Check the readability of your copy.
Once you have some text you’re happy with go here and put in your text and it will tell you its…readability. A high score is good. It means more people will be able to understand it. And if more people understand, more people keep clicking, more people make a query or ring you. Tadaahh!
There’s no reason you can’t go back and tweak your copy to be more search engine friendly. But make sure the primary aim is to appeal to people.
So, there you have it, copywriting is for people, not search engines. Add some great copy to a snazzy design, easy navigation and a simple contact form and you’ll have a website that’s a real contender. Oh, and don’t forget your SEO!
PS. Not everyone likes writing. If you find it a drag, a professional copywriter can help make your website the people friendliest place on the web and you can continue with what you do best.
PPS. I’m a copywriter. * cheesy grin