How to Take advantage of Your Web Copywriter
Many people feel uncertain when dealing with copywriters. Like any artform, writing is subjective; instead of black and white, most see indistinguishable shades of grey. But a web copywriter is not just any writer, because the writer has a commercial imperative.
The web copywriter answers to the market, and the reality of that is money… sometimes translated as “return on investment.”
Although professional copywriters love to write, that doesn’t mean they necessarily enjoy writing about every subject on earth. They do. They write, because it’s their job.
Like any job, copywriting has rules, structure and defined parameters, which determine how a professional copywriter works, as well as how they produce the words a client engages them to write. What this means is that the process is black and white.
There are two primary realities for a web copywriter. When the client understands these realities, they understand the writer and the process. When they don’t know or ignore these realities, the project takes longer, is more frustrating, less engaging — and earns the client less money after the client publishes the copy. That’s the proven stats from top web writers.
It’s a lot like the saying you’ve heard before. “When you engage the services of a physician, don’t ignore what the doctor says.”
Black and White Guidelines
A web copywriter needs to adhere to well known guidelines to ensure the copy on site is both reader friendly and search engine friendly. Again, this is about as black and white as it gets.
Most know that because sites have to rely — at least in part, for now — on search engines for web traffic… the writer has to write for two finicky audiences: human beings and computer software bots. This introduces a number of complexities because, these two factions want different things.
There’s an old saying that goes like this: When it comes to people surfing the Web, less is more. But with software bots, more is more.
How Many Words?
People need to understand, and sometimes it only takes a few words. Search engines, on the other hand, are programmed to notice that anything important enough to be ranked highly has to have a lot of words.
A web copywriter must balance these conflicting requirements. A copywriter works faster and more efficiently when the client doesn’t demand too few words or too many. I had a client once who demanded 30 pages of copy. Can you imagine? What I wrote is in my portfolio, if you’re interested in reading the end result of that assignment.
1. Sites need both people readers and search engines, so the client should try not to demand less than 500 words per page or more than 1200 words. Generally speaking, somewhere in the middle is a nice compromise to meet requirements.
2. It’s not just the number of words that’s important. People tend to not like repetition, whereas search engines count repeated words.
3. People understand the subject from a heading, and understand it’s relevance. Mention it once in the body of the content and that’s generally good. On the other hand, search engines want more. Search engines need to notice the title again and again. This is how they determine relevance.
Don’t Demand that Your Web Copywriter Write a Certain Number of Words
If you ask your copywriter to write a minimum amount of copy [to save money], the search engines won’t like it. Don’t ask the writer to pepper every page full of keywords either, because your visitors won’t like how the page reads (in fact, neither will search engines).
This is just a hint at how time consuming it is to balance real live people with computer bot requirements. Meeting all the requirements is just one part: The entire breadth of the content is more important than ever. So factor that in, as well.
Benefits, Features, Services
A web copywriter deals in benefits, features, services. This is black and white.
These things may be obvious to your writer, but they aren’t necessarily obvious to most clients. Although a good copywriter can draw this information out of the client, they won’t be able to accurately and comprehensively identify them alone.
The client must participate in the process. It’s surprising that many people who have engaged our writing services didn’t clearly understand that they have a role in the process.
Before you engage a web copywriter, make a list of what you do, who you do it for, and what the benefits you offer are. It’s also a good idea to include a one line statement of your goal, such as, “I want to increase my website sales conversions!” or “I need more visitors.” or “I want a higher page ranking.” Pick one.
What is Good Web Copy
When it comes down to it, good web copy is written around benefits. Customers are only interested in how what you offer benefits them. This means benefits are the web copywriter’s main course in the meal.
Don’t Confuse Features with Benefits
A feature is what you do or how you do it. A benefit is the distinct advantage for the customer.
The list of benefits and features that you send to your copywriter should have a clear distinction. This saves your copywriter time, and saves you a lot of money. More importantly, the resulting copy favorably impacts the bottom line, because your website content better engages your visitors.
Web Copywriting is Black and White
Web copywriting is an artform. But because it’s an artform with a commercial foundation, it can be understood by most business people.
When you understand the commercial realities of the words you publish, the traditional greys of the artform begin to seem more like the familiar black and white.
To take advantage of any web copywriter you engage, don’t make demands, answer all questions, and remember how difficult it is to write words that will get YOU the outcome you want.
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