I’m involved in an interesting discussion on the Small Business Ideas Forum about Design vs. Content. The theory posed in the first post is “…a bad website design with good copywriting will perform better than a fantastic design with poor copywriting.” I gave my reply in the thread, which basically boils down to, “It depends.”
But I only bring this up as an excuse to talk about copywriting, which in my experience dealing with small businesses, is far and away the least valued and most overlooked element of building a web site. I’ll probably pass out on the spot the minute I run into a small business owner who truly appreciates the value of great copy on a business web site.
- Your first opportunity to convert a searcher into a customer is in the SERPs, so make sure you write compelling page titles and use the Description meta tag wisely. That increases your chances of being the site/page that a searcher clicks on.
- The next step is great copy on the “landing page” — the page a searchers sees after clicking your link. Landing pages are most often associated with PPC advertising, where you can decide which page a searcher sees when they click on your ad. But in the regular SERPs, the fact is that all your pages can be landing pages – so make sure you have great copy across the web site.
- Focus on conversion. Search engine traffic is useless if the searchers don’t convert to customers. Great landing pages (or just “great web pages”) have compelling text that explains the benefits of your product or service and allows the visitor to take immediate action.
Heather also hit on another pet peeve of mine: too little copy. I could retire if I had a dollar for every small business owner who’s said “Nobody read web pages. Why does it matter what we say?” What a terrible mistake that is….
The web is the greatest research instrument ever invented. You have access to get more information in less time than ever before. And people are using the web for research — specifically for product and service research. Do a search for [digital cameras] and look how many of the top ten listed sites are information-based, not sales-based. People want information, so give it to them. (Search engines also want information, and without appropriate copy, a crawler can’t tell what your page is about. If it can’t tell, how can it rank that page?)
Bottom line: Don’t be like all those prospects I’ve met with over the past 9 years and think that copy doesn’t matter. It sure does. And great copy can make the difference in how much traffic you get, and how much of that traffic you convert.