Different types of web copy serve different purposes, so before you crack your knuckles and get down some furious typing you need to consider what it is you want to achieve.
The first thing you need to know about all web copywriting is that you’re competing in an overpopulated space for a smidgeon of attention from people who are easily distracted. So, don’t waste words.
The second thing you need to know is how to use keywords. If your copywriting is to achieve your goals it needs to be read; if it’s to be read it needs to be found; and if it’s to be found it needs to be search engine friendly. That’s where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes in. SEO involves a lot of things but one of its central principles is the effective use of well-researched keywords.
Keywords (or phrases) relate to the particular product or service that you offer. If you’re in real estate you’ll want to use keywords that relate to property, buying, renting, letting and estate agents. You’ll also want to include some geographic information, like houses for rent in New York or even more specifically, apartments for sale in Manhattan.
How you use the keywords depends on what you write.
Types of copywriting for the web
Let’s start with the most obvious, which also happens to be the most important: your website.
Your website is often your first point of contact with potential customers or clients; you don’t want to get it wrong. Website copywriting is delicate. The tone of your copy needs to reflect your business. If you’re a posh realtor don’t try to come across as chummy, but you also don’t want to be too highfalutin. It’s all about balance and balance is remarkably tricky to achieve.
You need to include as many keywords as possible, without having them affect the quality of your copy. This is why it’s a good idea to hire an SEO company that offers copywriting services. A good SEO agency will know how to maintain the tone you want while balancing the needs of a picky audience with those of equally picky search engines.
Website blogs are there for you to interact with customers, interested leads and, on occasion, your competitors. They are not there for you to tout your services or boast about products.
The temptation is great to use your blog as a platform to launch your business. Resist the temptation. You’ll annoy your readers and they’ll find someone else who is less self-promotional and more interested in disseminating information.
Use your blog to impart company news by all means, but stick to welcoming new staff or exciting new developments. The rest of the time should be devoted to industry-related news. Readers want to see the personal side of your business, which is why it’s also a good idea to have several members of your staff contribute blog posts.
When it comes to keywords don’t try to force the matter but a few well placed phrases certainly won’t hurt your copywriting efforts.
The purpose of online articles is to impart interesting or valuable information while driving traffic to your website. They are also intended to be picked up and republished elsewhere, provided a link back to your website is included. Topics can be varied but should always relate back to your business in some way. Sticking with the estate agent example, you could write something on environmentally-friendly construction methods or declining interest rates and still have it be relevant to your website. In this way you gain a reputation as a knowledge provider. You show that you have wide interests and you’re altruistic enough to share what you come across with your audience.
There are certain rules that need to be followed when writing online articles. For instance, you can’t promote your own products. You can’t include superfluous links. It has to be original – no copying and pasting from other sources.
Don’t forget those keywords.
Online press releases
Online press releases serve the same purpose as traditional offline press releases. In other words, you’re finally allowed to be self-promotional – within reason.
It’s recommended that you use the inverted pyramid style of writing, which basically means that you include all the very important information in your opening paragraph (who, what, where, when, why and how) and then taper it down to the finer details. This is so that readers get the gist of the matter in the first few seconds and can then decide if it’s worth their while to read on or not.
Once again – and recognising the danger of sounding like a stuck record – use keywords.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads
Online ads are especially reliant on keywords and clever copywriting. PPC ads appear in search engines when people type in relevant search phrases. This means you need to get your keywords exactly right if you are to stand any chance of making an appearance.
PPC ads are also required to adhere to a particular format – Google is very specific about what is and isn’t allowed – so you need to familiarise yourself with Adwords and get comfortable with various analytics.
Search engine marketing companies generally provide PPC copywriting in their list of services. They also provide in-depth reports based on analytics so that you can see how their various efforts are panning out.
If you’re a fount of knowledge that you would dearly love to impart, but only for a price then you should consider an e-book. An e-book allows you to collate all your advice, tips and recommendations in a more cohesive and comprehensive manner than if you were to spread it over blogs and articles.
In terms of copywriting you are also freed from some typical web writing restraints. This means you can finally forget about keywords (although bring them back for an appearance when you market your e-book).
If you’re still trying to make a name for yourself you might want to consider giving your first e-book away for free. In this way you can introduce yourself to your audience and when you want to publish succeeding e-books you’ll have established your worth.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can write. And as the web becomes ever more crowded with writers of dubious talent, internet users are becoming ever pickier of what they will and won’t read. To win over your audience and get the attention you deserve you need to be very precise about your web copywriting needs.