Website copywriting, writing for the web: dark art or simpler than it looks?

Writing for the web: dark art or simpler than it looks?

8th March, 2019 by Jackie Bates

Keywords, keywords, keywords. We’re told they’re the cornerstones of search engine optimisation. Brands rely on them to get onto the front page of online search results – and often pay a fortune to SEO experts promising to practise the dark arts of algorithm-manipulation to keep them there.

So, in a world where Search Engine Optimisation can seem like another planet (a planet where the climate is hostile and constantly changing – see picture) are keywords really the be all and end all of your website copy? And is spontaneous, original web content dead?

Authenticity rules

In short, the answer is no – to both. It’s content that’s king, rather than keywords.  Above all, the best marketing content is relevant to your audience. It’s engaging, well-written, and makes them want to DO something (click, save, read on, even buy). Yes, it might include your keywords, but only in a way that feels natural, not forced – and never at the expense of meaning or quality.

Algorithms change, SEO hacks come and go. But the best content lives on, unaffected. It continues to draw your customers in and drive them to action. Because it’s written with your customers in mind.

Getting it right: our website copywriting tips

If you’re a brand wanting to get indexed and noticed, what are the webpage need-to-knows? Here are our top tips for writing winning web copy:

  • Write first, keywords second.

Get the page drafted before you get too hung up on which keywords to put where. If they’re the right ones for your audience, they’ll most likely find their way in on their own. And you can always have a good look through and work in any missing must-haves after.

  • Location, location, location.

Think about the main messages your readers want to see (which most likely are keywords, anyway), and make them work hard. Put them in places they’ll be seen easily by readers: headers, first paragraphs, image captions. Again, these locations are also Google-friendly, so making life easier for your reader pays off.

  • Break it up.

Whether it’s a blog or a landing page, no one wants to read an essay – and reams and reams of copy won’t fly with Google either. Readers appreciate clear, concise and digestible content. And so, it follows, do search engines.

  • Signpost.

Thinking about your audience doesn’t just mean thinking about what they want to read. It’s about knowing how they read. How many times have you skim read an article on your phone on the train, desperately trying to find the bits that matter to you? Use headers, lists and bullets. Link to further reading if you need to. It will help readers get to the points they care about quickly. And it’ll help Google scan your content (bonus).

  • Write like you speak.

No meandering sentences, no meaningless corporate jargon. And no passive! When you only have a few seconds to catch – and keep – readers’ attention, don’t waste words. Get to the point quickly and succinctly. If you do, it could help your listings too: as SEO titan Yoast says, the rise of voice search is cementing the importance of readability in search results.

Make your web content count

For us, the rule is no matter what, your audience should come first. Working the right keywords into your website copy can help Google find and index your page, but none of that matters if your website leaves visitors drowning in a sea of meaningless keyword stuffing and digital waffle. And more often than not, if you put your audience first, the search engines will follow.