Does Your Website’s Copywriting Make These Mistakes?

You can't bore people into buying

As you know, there’s an abundance of horribly written corporate websites out there – with too much back slapping self praise and not enough focus on the customer.

For us copywriters, this presents an opportunity: if you can point out to a company why their website’s copy is ineffective, they might ask you to give it a makeover. Many companies complain about how poor their websites are at generating sales - often weak copy is to blame.

Here are a few classic corporate web copywriting mistakes you might want to point out:

Irrelevant copy that wastes visitors’ time – You know the sort, packed with meaningless marketing clichés – ‘paradigm shift’, ‘modular best of breed solutions’, blah, blah, blah…Copy that’s not focused on the reader is more likely to cause yawns and glazed eyes than people hopping in theirs seats about a product’s benefits.

No structure or call to action – Every page should have an point of what it wants the reader to think or do. Rather than endlessly boast about ‘market leading solutions’, the copy should be creating an image in people’s minds of how a product can solve their problem. As you know, hitting people’s emotional buttons is a time proven way of persuading them to respond to a call to action (which is another key element many corporate web page’s are missing).

Copywriting by committee – In theory, asking people from different areas of a company to contribute to what the website needs to say makes sense. But you then often end up with the website’s copy becoming drowned in track changes and amendments. Yes, getting feedback is important. But it should then be one person’s responsibility to pull all the elements together into a concisely written website page.

Copy pasted from the corporate brochure – People skim read online and have the attention spans of goldfish. So web copy needs to use short sentences, short paragraphs, plenty of subheads, bullet pointed lists and provide succinct, usable summaries. The internet is also a robotic medium. So addressing the reader as ‘you’ and writing copy in an approachable tone can help it sound more human. Ideally, pages should be kept to less than 300 words. You can always use arrows or drill down menus to break up long pages into more digestible chunks.

Hasn’t been split tested – Not sure which headline or call to action works best? Try split testing the page to find out. Google’s Website Optimizer will do the trick.

Too many keywords (or not enough) – SEO is a complicated beast, and has evolved a lot since the days of hidden text and keyword stuffing. But you still need enough words in the right places to make sure Google knows what your page is about. Luckily, there are some great tools out there for finding out whether your copy’s on the right track - SEOBugz is one tool I use regularly.

So, if you’ve got a spare window next week, have a look at corporate websites in your area to see which are making these mistakes to drum up some business.

Any corporate web copywriting mistakes you’d add?

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