Website Copywriter Wisdom

Here are some of my favourite nuggets of wisdom from the greatest minds in website copywriting, e-marketing and search engine optimization:

It’s the words that make the sale
“Flash animations don’t make sales. CRM software doesn’t make sales. Pictures of products don’t make sales. If you have trouble believing that, remove all the words from your site and see how many sales you make. Without great copy, your online presence is dead in the water. It’s the words that open, build, and close the sale.”
Nick Usborne, Net Words

Better web copywriting = better website
“What’s the single most important thing that could improve the web? It’s not broadband. It’s better writing.”
Gerry McGovern, author of Content Critical

Words are a major investment
“To successfully rank highly in the search engines, the words on your Web pages should never be an afterthought but a major investment in your search engine optimization campaign.”
Jill Whalen, Writing for the Search Engines

How will you survive without a website copywriter?
“How can a commerce site survive within an environment as text-centric as the Net without the heavy influence of a writer?”
Nick Usborne, author of Net Words

Website copywriting is hard work
“If you’ve ever been in charge of building your company’s website from scratch, you’ve learned that one of the most time-consuming tasks is to write the copy or words that appear on the website. It’s plain old hard work.”
Ralph Wilson, Wilson Web

The value of SEO copywriting
“The most important thing about search engine optimization is good text. Bar none, it is the absolute bare minimum you must have to begin optimizing a site. And once you have it, you’ll want to keep it.”
Brandon Olejniczak, SEO expert, in Digital Web Magazine

Good content = website success
“The graphics and the technology are a minor part of web success. The content is the hard part, and it is also what will make your website a success or failure.”
Gerry McGovern, author of Content Critical

What users want
“White space on Web pages is like silence on the radio – a little goes a long way. Fill pages with what users want: easily readable product descriptions, relevant images and useful tools.”
Harley Manning, Forrester Research

Make content the foreground
“Ultimately users visit your site for the content. Everything else is just a backdrop.”
Jakob Nielsen, Designing Web Usability

Website Content Wisdom

Here are some of my favourite nuggets of wisdom from the greatest minds in website copywriting, e-marketing and search engine optimization:

It’s the words that make the sale
“Flash animations don’t make sales. CRM software doesn’t make sales. Pictures of products don’t make sales. If you have trouble believing that, remove all the words from your site and see how many sales you make. Without great copy, your online presence is dead in the water. It’s the words that open, build, and close the sale.”
Nick Usborne, Net Words

Better web copywriting = better website
“What’s the single most important thing that could improve the web? It’s not broadband. It’s better writing.”
Gerry McGovern, author of Content Critical

Words are a major investment
“To successfully rank highly in the search engines, the words on your Web pages should never be an afterthought but a major investment in your search engine optimization campaign.”
Jill Whalen, Writing for the Search Engines

How will you survive without a website copywriter?
“How can a commerce site survive within an environment as text-centric as the Net without the heavy influence of a writer?”
Nick Usborne, author of Net Words

Website copywriting is hard work
“If you’ve ever been in charge of building your company’s website from scratch, you’ve learned that one of the most time-consuming tasks is to write the copy or words that appear on the website. It’s plain old hard work.”
Ralph Wilson, Wilson Web

The value of SEO copywriting
“The most important thing about search engine optimization is good text. Bar none, it is the absolute bare minimum you must have to begin optimizing a site. And once you have it, you’ll want to keep it.”
Brandon Olejniczak, SEO expert, in Digital Web Magazine

Good content = website success
“The graphics and the technology are a minor part of web success. The content is the hard part, and it is also what will make your website a success or failure.”
Gerry McGovern, author of Content Critical

What users want
“White space on Web pages is like silence on the radio – a little goes a long way. Fill pages with what users want: easily readable product descriptions, relevant images and useful tools.”
Harley Manning, Forrester Research

Make content the foreground
“Ultimately users visit your site for the content. Everything else is just a backdrop.”
Jakob Nielsen, Designing Web Usability

text-centric: What’s in a Name?

When I started my freelance copywriting business I decided to call it text-centric because I though it was a witty description of what my business was about.

According to the Macquarie Dictionary:
text – “the actual wording of anything written or printed”
centric – “focussed on… a specific interest”

So text-centric = focussed on writing.

Trouble is no one really gets it except me. And worse, most people (including me sometimes) don’t pronounce it properly. Many people say “tech-centric” and one friend insisted on referring to my business as “text-eccentric”!

Right from the word go I targeted web writing – first editorial content and then website copywriting. Back in 1997 the web was just getting fired up. Writing for the web seemed a good marketing niche and I wanted to be involved in the cultural shift that was taking place.

Some years later I was reading Nick Usborne’s excellent book on web copywriting, Net Words, and I came across a couple of quotes which vindicated my choice of business name:

“The web was and is the most text-centric of all business environments.” p 21

“How can a commerce site survive within an environment as text-centric as the Net without the heavy influence of a writer?” p28

Sadly, Nick’s message about the necessity for website copywriters hasn’t fully caught on yet, but gradually people are getting it.

How Do You Make Your Website Credibile to Visitors?

A couple of weeks ago web copywriter Nick Usborne queried readers of his (excellent) Excess Voice e-newsletter about what makes a website credible. The question was: “If testimonials are somewhat unreliable as a means for establishing credibility, what DOES make you trust a site and believe in its integrity?”

While the results may not be statistically reliable they raise some interesting issues for web copywriters. The respondents’ biggest credibility buster was lack of a physical address and contact telephone number. This is also Jakob Nielsen’s 8th biggest web design mistake of 2005.

Even if your business is conducted 100% online it’s crucial to include your full contact details. Prospects will feel more confident about doing business with you if they know you have a brick and mortar office and you can be contacted by phone if necessary.

Other factors that improve credibility according to the survey are a guarantee and return policy, testimonials, independent product reviews, and good writing that’s not too hard sell. To that I would add professional and attractive design, good usability, complete information about products and services, a prominent privacy policy and sensitive use of email.

Copywriting Video of the Week: Jay Abraham’s Amazon School of Copywriting

In his Amazon School of Copywriting video, marketing guru Jay Abraham offers a deceptively simple tip for quickly creating copy that deeply resonates with your prospective customers.

Simply put, Jay suggests doing a search on Amazon for the top 100 books on the topic that most closely relates to the product or service you’re selling, and studying the reader reviews carefully. These reviews will yield virtually all of the main copy points necessary for a killer promotion.

Jay notes that empathy is the “key to writing great copy… great emails and… amassing and sustaining a fortune.”

Most copywriters have some sense of empathy for the customer. But it needs to be more focused on the customer’s deepest needs, rather than the copywriter’s desire to market a product.

By carefully analysing what readers loved and hated about the books on the topic, you’ll be able to build a list of exactly what customers want, as well as what they don’t want.

After taking careful note of their concerns, it’s relatively easy to get the “what’s in it for me?” into words.

Take a look:

Online punctuation #1 – general principles

The essence of grammar and punctuation is to facilitate communication. This is as true on the web as it is in print. But due to their lower resolution and flicker, computer screens are harder to read than printed pages. So some punctation should be modified to increase readability online.

Punctuation marks serve to control the flow of sentences and to organise ideas. But they’re small. They get lost easily on-screen. I recommend using online punctuation sparingly. Web writers need to maintain readability while they communicate their message. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Arrange information into lists.

I’ll write more about the specifics of online punctuation in future posts.