As a freelance copywriter, I take on a lot of projects where I have to rewrite web copy for clients. Most of my clients already have websites, but they aren’t performing like they’d hope. In most cases, it’s because the copy…well, it sucks. It was clearly added to the website at the last minute as an afterthought, because the company assumed that a flashy design and functional website were all that they needed to be successful online.
After years of reading terrible web copy, I’ve identified the 5 most common problems I run into.
- It’s filled with industry jargon and nonsensical buzzwords—Corporate buzzwords have killed sales copy. Companies insist on using phrases and words like “best of breed,” “convergence,” “synergies,” and “paradigms.”What they end up with is a bunch of wordy nonsense that customers don’t understand and don’t respond to. Copywriting really isn’t all that difficult. Write copy in a language that your target audience understands. Write like they talk. How easy is that?
- Search engine keywords have created a robotic cadence—I’m not one of those copywriting purists who thinks keywords are of the devil, but I do believe that the approach most take to SEO copywriting is flawed. Keywords shouldn’t drive your writing. You should only include keywords when it makes sense and is natural to do so. Forcing them where they don’t fit and repeating them constantly throughout the content is a recipe for stiff, robotic copy that customers won’t respond to.
- It isn’t focused on the reader—The hardest thing for most companies to understand is that it’s not about them. No one cares about your company. Really, they don’t. They could care less about you. Customers care only about themselves. All they want to know is how you can help make their lives better. If your copy isn’t customer-focused, no one is ever going to get motivated enough to call you or order your products.
- It does little to distinguish the company from its competitors—I’ve literally had clients send me links to their competitors’ websites and tell me, “Just write me something like that. Change it around a little, and that will be fine.” Are you kidding me? When your copy sounds just like everyone else’s copy, you’re telling customers that you’re just like everyone else, and that means they may as well be doing business with one of your competitors.
- It doesn’t motivate readers to take action—How can you expect your website visitors to contact you or place an order if you don’t tell them to do so? You can’t just cross your fingers and hope visitors will magically figure out what step to take next. You have to encourage them to take action. Clearly tell them what you want them to do, and many of them will do it. It’s pretty simple, really.
Take a look at your website. How is the copy? Do you think it’s as good as it can be?