Web Copy: Keep It or Rewrite It?
A slick new website without good web copy is like filling up a brand new mansion with folding tables and chairs.
A website doesn’t need to just be user-friendly and good to look at, it needs to be filled with good web copy. Well-written, informative copy that delivers the information visitors are looking for helps move them through your sales funnel and closer to becoming a customer. Bad web copy can do the opposite by frustrating and driving visitors away.
Going through the web design process is a great time to evaluate your copy and weigh your options: should I keep my old web copy or should I rewrite it?
Many companies will opt to just transfer their old web copy on to their new site. This is a fine route to take, as long as the copy is solid. But what makes solid web copy? In order to determine if your web copy is good enough to be transferred to your new site or if a rewrite is in order ask yourself the following questions. If you are able to answer each with a resounding “YES” then you are safe.
However, if even just one comes up “NO” then your copy has room for improvement.
Does your copy make sense?
Sure, your web copy may make sense to you – but could I understand it? A common misstep most companies fall into with their website is stuffing it with industry or technical jargon. This kind of language may be commonplace around the office or in pamphlets or handouts. It isn’t, however, well-suited for your website. And, while your typical audience may be someone who understands this jargon, they won’t be the only ones who may find it. Considering the typical amount of time people spend on websites, keeping the copy as simple as possible is always smart. Cut through the jargon and keep it simple. A good rule is to aim to keep your web copy written at an 8th-grade reading level.
Are keywords addressed?
Web copy needs to be written with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind. Before you begin writing copy, determine a handful of keywords that you want to rank for and plan how to naturally work them into the copy. If you’re looking over your copy and realize you haven’t hit any important keywords, a rewrite could be helpful to make your copy more effective. However, there’s an important distinction to make: web copy needs to be written with SEO in mind – not dictated by SEO. In an effort to rank well for certain terms, some companies will attempt to stuff their copy with keywords. In theory, this seems like an easy loop-hole to exploit. However, stuffing actually has negative effects. Search engines are savvy to keyword stuffing and will actually penalize your site. Not only that, but keyword stuffing will often leave you with a muddled and hard-to-read mess.
Is the copy in a web-friendly format?
Web copy is unique from other kinds of copy like white papers and pamphlets. Where most content sources are meant to be read to completion, copy on your website is meant to be skimmed for information. Website visitors want to hit the page, get the information they are looking for, and move on. In order to facilitate your visitors easily finding the information they want, there are certain formatting standards you can hit. When rewriting or evaluating your content, divide your content using headlines, keep your paragraphs and sentences short, and use bullet points whenever possible to make information easier to read.
If you can check each of these boxes, your copy is looking solid. If not, let’s see how your copy can be improved.
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