How to make the most of the words on your website.
It may sound odd in this digital age, but the written word is vitally important online and particularly on websites.
It goes without saying that a website should draw in traffic, hold it once arrived and make a commitment or direct sale if that is the purpose of the site. The details of as many visitors as possible are essentially part of future marketing strategies.
Dessol Blog raised this issue of SEO Tips for Web Design https://www.dessol.com/blog/seo-tips-web-design/ in June 2014. Time for a different take on it, but the same message – that this is important in web design.
Where Words Count
For every webpage, it’s in the titles that are the clues to success or not for a piece of content. Are the words search engine friendly (SEO) and will they give a higher ranking?
The content itself should also be SEO rich with keywords which will draw people in, will be what they are looking for.
The graphics titles, captions, illustrations/infographics and the sense of what is going on behind the front scenes of the site are just as important.
Then, the links to other pages on the site and links to archive or closely related content are part of the jigsaw.
Many people swear by Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner which is ‘like a workshop for building new Search Network campaigns or expanding existing ones. It can also provide historical statistics, ‘see how a list of keywords might perform’ and multiply lists of keywords together to experiment.
For those happy to try everything alone, Pagewiz http://www.pagewiz.com/blog/landing-pages/landing-page-optimization?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=referral offer a two part Optimize Me program about landing page optimisation.
It helps with A/B testing where multiple tests are created to optimise and improve results by changing headlines, offering different images or adjusting content. This often replaces instinct or personal taste on the basis that actual statistics and algorithms are better predictors of people’s behaviour.
There is also the Ultimate List of Must-Have Tools for Your SEO Toolkit http://www.thesempost.com/ultimate-list-mandatory-seo-tools-seo-toolkit/ by Dave Davies on the SEMPost.
The four main planks of the landing page are a good offer/product/service, good design, purposeful formatting and persuasive writing. They must work together seamlessly so the visitor stays, commits and returns.
There has to have been a deal of questioning first. What is the explicit and implicit message the site needs to convey? The view these days is that social media, review sites and online forums make it easy to ‘read what your target market says in their own words.’
The persuasive copy should follow a simple structure:
- Get the reader’s attention – use the headline and sub-headline, if used, to do this.
- Maintain their interest – present a success or a benefit that they’d like to read more about
- Create the desire for your solution – this is where your credibility builders really do their work
- Present a strong and compelling offer – in addition to providing genuine value with your offer, make it easy and low-risk to take advantage of.
Words need to be directly addressed to reader, writing should be like talking, there should be action words that are descriptive and specific
These are the views of Elisa Silverman on Pagewiz, but again, Dessol https://www.dessol.com/ is closer to hand to give advice in that area and others.
Other Issues to Remember
Content will almost certainly be written in English. That may mean American-English or English-English. It is best to be natural so write in your own tongue. If you are aiming the site at a country not your own, get it ‘translated.’
It’s not simply differences of spelling (color/colour) and vocabulary (elevator/lift; purse/handbag or pants/trousers), it’s tone, style and outlook that are different. Most readers make allowance mentally as they read, but it is important to be clear, accurate and avoid misunderstandings. Or howlers.
It is often said that the USA and the UK are two countries divided by the same language. http://www.davidporter.co.uk/2011/05/usa-and-uk-two-countries-divided-by-the-same-language/ So get it sorted at the design stage.
The writing itself needs to be grammatically correct. There is a tendency to think that informality in the workplace, text-speak and abbreviations like LOL, CBA and so on, mean that correct spellings, punctuation and grammar are unimportant.
That is wrong. A missing or misplaced apostrophe can annoy many people who know how it should be written. Their and there and they’re are all important words in their own right, they are not interchangeable.
No point in offending visitors needlessly.
A report in a newspaper said: ‘Mr Smith was charged with shooting his neighbour dead at Ipswich Crown Court.’ Factually accurate, but can only lead the reader to think the shooting was at the court itself, not the charge.
This argument is supported by Marta Stelmaszak http://wantwords.co.uk/school/translation-services-website/ a Polish-English translator writing on the WantWords blog. She is a linguist dealing with translations, texts and accurate words all the time.
She writes about the how nouns, verbs, adjectives and generally grammatical words and how they appear on searches which feeds into what you are considering about your own website. Or should do.
Because words matter.