Archive | Website Copywriting

Why proofreading your web copy is essential

Nothing screams “unprofessional” like web copy filled with typos.

XYZ Web Design boasts about creating beautiful, responsive websites for their clients. Take their own site, for example. They’ve done all the right things…made it responsive, easy to navigate, pleasing to the eye…but, uh oh, they forgot one thing. Proof reading! Sadly, there are cringe-worthy typos on almost every page.

The truth is, typos are easy to make but not always so easy to spot (I’ve made some doozies myself).

So what’s the big deal about a few misspelled words?
A website full of typos doesn’t inspire confidence. What’s a prospect to think? These guys aren’t buttoned up.   They aren’t professional. This is not the quality of work I want for my company.

That’s why it’s important to have another pair of eyes proofread your copy before you post it.

Of course, websites aren’t the only places typos occur. A client, who happens to be in the building trades, had a misspelled word on his truck. Instead of installation, it read instalation. One day a driver of another vehicle pulled up alongside him and said:

“I hope your work is better than your spelling.”

 

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5 Be’s to Build Your Business in 2012

Some folks say, “What will be, will be.” But to be successful, you’ve got to take a more proactive approach.

Here are five Be’s for making 2012 your best year ever!

1. Be Known. Your website’s About page is a great opportunity to tell who you are and the passion behind what you do. Customers and prospects want to know about the people in your company. Adding bios and photos makes a personal connection and builds trust.

2. Be Found. Website optimization is the gift that keeps on giving. When you have SEO working on your behalf, you attract traffic to your site and become a contender for purchases you would otherwise miss.

3. Be Recognized. Providing helpful information on a company blog positions you as an expert in your field and gives visitors a reason to come back to your website. A recent study shows companies that blog attract 55% more website visitors than non-blogging companies.

4. Be Clear. For the new year, out with the insider-speak and in with customer-friendly language. Keep your message concise, easy to read and focused on benefits for the buyer.

5. Be Remembered. People remember stories. You can tell your persuasive stories using case studies. In them, your company is the hero, solving customers’ problems and saving the day.

Get the free report! Contact me, and I’ll be happy to send you my how-to guide for generating leads with success stories.

How do you plan to make 2012 your best year ever? Share some tips here.

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Yourdomain.com — Who owns it?

You came up with the perfect dot com, dot net or dot org for your business, and woo hoo! – it was available. So you quickly purchased and registered it, signed up for a hosting package, and launched your online business.

Two years later, when it came up for renewal, you signed on for another five years and went about your business.

That’s the best case scenario. Here’s the worst.

This recently happened to one of my clients, a tile contractor.

Seeking to simplify the process, the web designer registered the domain name and purchased a hosting plan under his own account. That way, Mr. Tile wouldn’t have to worry, and when it came up for renewal the designer would notify him and take care of it.

Sounds good, right?

A year later, the unthinkable happens – the designer suffers a massive stroke and doesn’t survive.

Now what?

Time was running out on the contractor’s domain name and he did not want to lose his site.

After a few calls to Network Solutions he was told he needed to get a copy of the death certificate. Well…that was out of the question. The next option was to make me, as the writer on the website, an account admin which would enable me to then turn the domain over to Mr. Tile.

Bottom line, after lots of back and forth, the contractor was able to work it out with Network Solutions, save his domain name and purchase a hosting plan in the nick of time.

Moral of the story: Register your own domain name and closely monitor your account so you don’t risk losing it.

Be sure to renew your url and hosting package in plenty of time before they are due to expire. Don’t be like a friend of mine who wasn’t paying attention to her renewal notices and bingo – someone scooped up the name and turned it into a porn site!

Have you had any hair-raising experiences around your domain registration? We’d love to hear about and learn from them.

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5 tips for taking your website from blah to blossoming

Is your website littering the landscape with self-serving content, confusing navigation, a call to action that’s missing in action?

Well, what better time to clean up your ‘Net presence than spring? After all, like all growing things your website just needs a little TLC to produce amazing results.

Here are five easy ways to nurture your most valuable green marketing tool.

Give your website a little TLC and it will reward you with amazing results.

1. Clear navigation – visitors expect to find your nav bar across the top of every page. Don’t disappoint. Create a clear path through your site by labeling the navigation tabs with standard terms such as About, Services, Contact. This is not the place to be cute.

2. Juicy text -let’s face it, web searchers are looking for information, so make sure your site provides it. Rather than going on about what you do, give them conversational, jargon-free copy that addresses their concerns. Then, format your text for the way people read online using short paragraphs, subheads and bulleted or numbered lists. Make your message compelling and visitors will spend more time (and money) on your site.

3. Call to action – Sign up for our newsletter. Call for an appointment. Order now. Whether it’s a link to a download or  asking for the sale, a direct call to action gets results. While this may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many businesses overlook this important step.  Help your visitors (and your company) by being clear about how to take the next step.

4. Update often – make it a living, changing, growing site by posting new content frequently.  Add new products, articles or blog posts and Google will reward you with higher rankings. And, you’ll be giving customers a reason to visit more often.

5. Add video – build trust and show your brand personality with a short, punchy video clip on your website. Not only are videos engaging, they also enhance your SEO. According to SearchEngineWatch.com, Google and the like are programmed to display a mix of content types in search results. For this reason, they give more weight to video than to other forms of Web content.

What  have you done lately to take your website from blah to blossoming? We’d love to hear your tips.

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A copywriter’s wish – may your new year be jargon-free!

No more bla bla blaAt the end of the day, on Christmas Eve, I hope Santa brought your deliverables on time and on budget. As the global leader in innovative solutions, he strives to exceed expectations and always thinks outside the gift box. After all, that’s his core competency. And for you, as one of his key stakeholders, it’s a win-win!

Uhhhh….what I really mean is: Have a happy holiday and a jargon-free new year!

The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, “as corporate complexity collides with fanciful phrasing…it’s getting harder to tell what some companies actually do.”

Resolve to bid farewell to overblown language.

Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by examples of this kind of writing. Here are a few I love:

  • Your Full Service Food Service Service Company (this wordy slogan gets the repetition award!)
  • A company called Universal Business Solutions says they “Deliver new business process management solutions to automate core processes.” (Can somebody please translate that for me?)
  • Another boasts: “We take a structured approach to our implementation engagements.” (And they do it in their brochure, no less).

You wouldn’t use this kind of language in a conversation, so why expect your copywriter to use it in your marketing materials?

Customers and prospects want to know that a living, breathing human is behind what they’re reading.

So say what you really mean in an engaging, fun style and you’ll connect, establish trust and build relationships.

What are some examples of bla-bla copy that you’ve found?

Please share them with me so I can add them to my collection.

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How to Shake Up and Rev Up Your Marketing

Every week, Carol stood up in her networking meeting and gave the same one-minute speech about her real estate business. While she talked, the other members doodled, daydreamed and drank coffee. After weeks of getting no referrals, she got the picture. At the next meeting she wore a doll house with a for sale sign as a hat. Did anyone hear her message that day? You bet.

Be bold, be heard.

You don’t have to go to that far, but think about your marketing materials. Are they written in corporate-speak? Do they make you seem distant and stuffy, when your firm is built on warmth and informality? Don’t be afraid to create an authentic, even bold, brand personality and let it come shining through.

Start by writing your website copy in a friendly, conversational style, free of jargon. Use humor to connect with people if it’s right for your brand.

As Rohit Bhargava, author of the Influential Marketing blog, says: “Nothing gives the impression that you’re faceless more than using completely neutral third person language across your site. Instead of using the same old marketing mumbo jumbo to describe your business, how about giving people a bit of the story behind your company? … When you can tell a story in your own voice, it creates a foundation for believability in everything else you do online.”

Here are some tips for making your website copy more effective.

  • Address your customers’ needs and concerns
  • Skip the jargon, write in real-people language
  • Use humor where appropriate
  • Be clear
  • Express your personality – find your own “doll house hat”

Contact me for a complimentary review and some tips for making your website lively, compelling and search engine friendly.

 

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SEO copywriting tips for catalog marketers

In a recent article, SEO expert Heather Lloyd Martin takes catalog marketers to task for what she calls “10 stupid things” they do to mess up their websites. Here are a few of her comments about SEO copywriting:

1. Uploading your catalog content without rewriting it for the online market

If the task seems daunting, she suggests rewriting your top 20% pages first, incorporating key phrases customers search for. You should see an increase in search rankings and conversions.

2. Putting every applicable keyphrase on your home page

The goal isn’t to get visitors to land on your home page. You want them to land on a page that closely matches their search query.

3.  Using the same page titles on all site pages

One of the fastest ways to improve your search engine rankings is to create unique keyword-rich titles for every page.

4.  Not researching keyword phrases

You’re not a mind reader. You may *think* you know how customers are searching but keyphrase research will either confirm your hunches or give you new ideas.

And here’s the kicker… Hiring cheap writers who write poorly

Martin cites the example of an ecommerce site owner who went offshore for his SEO copywriting and wasted $2500 on bad writing. Remember, you get what you pay for. Hire a professional writer and reap the benefits of a better ROI.

Read the rest on Heather Lloyd Martin’s blog »

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Website Design & Copy: That all-important first impression

In her recent column in the San Francisco Examiner, graphic designer Stephanie Orma talks about the importance of working with a professional designer when creating or re-doing your website. She writes:

When startups and established businesses alike are looking to cut corners and save money, graphic design is usually at the top of their chopping block. But what these companies fail to realize is that good website design can literally mean the difference between being in the red or being in the black –- it’s that crucial. A website is often the first point of contact consumers have with a company. And just like in life, the first impression really does matter.

She’s absolutely right. And the same can be said for good copywriting.

As another cost-cutting measure, many companies write their own copy, even if this is not their area of expertise. And often the results are disastrous.  I’ve heard designers complain that they wait for months for the client to give them the copy. Think about all the revenue the company could have been earning during that time. Enough to have paid a professional freelance copywriter to get the job done right?

Copy and design work synergistically to create a positive online experience for your customers.

Remember, you’ve got about two seconds to capture their attention.  They’ve come to your site with a mission…whether it’s to find information about your company or to purchase your product online. So that first impression is all-important.

Read Stephanie’s entire article here »

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Copywriting clue: A little alliteration goes a long way.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love alliteration when it’s used skillfully and judiciously.  But when it’s overdone, it can be downright annoying.

Today I happened upon a website that overused alliteration in an attempt to be cute and catchy with phrases like, “Promote your company with postcards that pop.” Page after page of that made me cringe. (Or do I lack a sense of humor?)

In his gem of a book On Writing Well, William Zinsser reminds us that people may read with their eyes, but they actually hear your words in their mind’s ear.

So, yes, you want your copy to sing, but not off-key.

Zinsser quotes E.B. White, whose Elements of Style should be on everyone’s bookshelf. White tried to rearrange the words in Thomas Paine’s famous statement, “These are the times that try men’s souls”:

Times like these try men’s souls.
These are trying times for men’s souls.
How trying it is to live in these times!
Soulwise, these are trying times.

Clearly, Paine got it right.

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Website content … does spelling really matter?

The Web, especially, is rife with typos, misspelled words, run-on sentences…but why should we care?

Simple. This real-life example explains it best. A copywriting client, who happens to be in the building trades, had a misspelled word on his truck. Instead of installation, it read instalation. A driver of another vehicle pulled up alongside him and said:

“I hope your work is better than your spelling.”

Yikes!

It’s all about how you present yourself to the world. Sloppy writing and spelling makes you look unprofessional, and you can’t always count on spell check for accuracy.

So do yourself a favor. Ask someone to proofread your work. A second set of eyes can spot errors before you publish and save you the embarrassment.

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