10 Website Copywriting Mistakes and How to Fix Them
At Full Height Copy, website copywriting is our bread and butter. We have worked with start-ups, SMEs and multinationals and we see businesses making the same mistakes with their website content, whatever their size or industry. Your website is the gateway to your business — a gateway that visitors will click away from as quickly as they arrived if they don’t get the user experience that they expect. Here are nine mistakes we see most often, and what you can do about them.
1. Using ‘we’ not ‘you
Make your visitors your priority.
Think about it. When you visit a website, do you:
a) Want to hear 20 different reasons why the company or product you’re reading about is so amazing?
b) Want to know how the product or service can help you?
I’d imagine you’d rather go for (b). Yes, there’s a place for sharing your credibility — it’s called your ‘About Us’ page — but most of all, people want to feel as though they’re your priority when they visit your website.
Be visitor-centric. Focus on describing the benefits that a product or service can provide to the visitor instead of reeling off product features and business credentials. The language then automatically moves from ‘we’ to ‘you’.
2. Non-native writing
Marketing methods and styles differ between countries.
Have you ever watched TV commercials when abroad and thought to yourself, who would buy anything with that kind of advertising? Approaches to marketing vary hugely between countries, as does language usage. If you’re reaching out to a market in another country, you’d be wise to hire a copywriter that is native to that country. A lot of global organisations get this one wrong. It’s not simply about the nuances of language, it’s also about getting the cultural meaning right.
3. Leaving questions unanswered
Give visitors all the information they need.
Unanswered questions can lead to mistrust and annoyance. A user that can’t find what they’re looking for, and find it quickly, will head into the arms of a competitor. Ask yourself, what questions do my customers and target audience usually ask me about my products and services? Make sure the answers to these questions are built into your pages and that these answers are easy to find. If necessary, add a FAQs page.
4. Information overload
Give visitors the information that they expect from a page.
One subject; one web page. Anything else is confusing and distracting. When someone clicks on your ‘Services’ page, don’t bog them down with information that should be in your ‘About Us’ page. Visitors don’t want to wade through content to find what they’re looking for.
5. Too much text
Most people don’t read an entire web page.
Research indicates that the online reader gets bored reading a web page that’s longer than 240 words. In fact, most people don’t read an entire page. Unlike blog posts, where readers are looking for in-depth insights, website pages are where visitors make quick decisions about your company.
Give your copy a fighting chance by:
Using headings and subheadings to aid skim reading.
Using bullet points – replace 10 commas with a clear, uncluttered list.
Making every word count – no waffle!
6. No clear call to action
Each page is an opportunity to get your reader to act.
Every web page should have a clear call to action, whether that’s asking your visitor to ‘Buy Now’, ‘Read More’, ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Like’. Ask the reader to do something specific and give them a clear mean’s of doing it.
7. Writing the copy yourself
Hiring a freelance copywriter is cost-effective.
Small businesses and non-profits often tackle their web copy in-house in an effort to save money. If you’ve got someone in your team who has a way with words then this might work well enough for you, but copywriting is a specialist skill. When you hire a copywriter, you’re investing in a professional that understands the art of commercial writing. In most cases, working with a freelance copywriter is more cost-effective than writing the copy in-house. If you can’t afford to hire a copywriter for every project, consider hiring one to cover the basics, such as your website and core marketing literature. If that’s still a stretch, copywriting consultancy or mentoring services can be a great resource for building your team’s arsenal.
8. Forgetting who you’re talking to
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
Web page copy works when it:
Speaks to a visitor that wants to be reached.
Uses language that the visitor understands and can relate to.
This gives rise to three simple rules of website copy:
Always research your market and write with them in mind.
Always use a tone of voice that will appeal to the market.
Always use language that the market will understand — often that means making the complex simple.
Tech businesses are prone to falling down with this one. Rather than describing the benefits of a product, they will often talk about complex engineering feats and design features that are meaningless to the consumer.
9. Forgetting about SEO
Keep search engines happy if you want your page to rank
Each page needs to be search engine-friendly if you want to be found on Google, but what does that mean? When it comes to writing on-page content there are a few rules to follow:
Choose ONE main keyword for each page and use it sparingly, in a few key places:
Your H1 title.
Within the first 200 words of the body text.
Avoid keyword stuffing
Write naturally, using words that are semantically related to your main keyword rather than repeating the keyword. It will make your content more interesting and add more meaning and context.
Make it an easy read
Keep tabs on your content’s readability. It’s not just your users that want an easy, scannable read. Search engines are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their ability to assess your content’s readability.
Use words that are easy to understand.
Avoid complex sentence structure.
Use sub-headers and bullet points to aid scanning.
10. Weak testimonials
Social proof should be meaningful.
Testimonials can be a valuable means of building trust but choose them wisely. It can be better to have none than to have ones that say nothing about how your service benefitted the customer. You know — the empty comments like, ‘Full Height Copy is amazing’ or ‘Full Height Copy is great to work with’. These statements tell the visitor nothing about why you’re a cut above the competition.
Instead, encourage your clients to share one or two lines about how you helped them. Another great way of showcasing your work alongside client feedback is to create a few client interviews or case studies.
For more website tips, read 8 SEO Tips for Your Small Business.