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So when was the last time that your website received a contact email from Google, or your shopping cart was filled by Yahoo or Bing?

Have you ever gone to a website looking for information and been put off by various misspellings in the copy? Or did the wording feel very unwieldy with an overuse of apparent keywords? How did you react to poor grammar and weird sentence structure, which on reflection merely attempted to be attractive to search engines and not human visitors?

Communication works well when there are minimal barriers – misspellings, overuse of keyword phrases and poor grammar amongst other communication ‘noise’ are all off-putting to a reader. If your audience switches off when they are reading your web copy – they are not getting your message at all.

When you write your web copy specifically for search engines, you alienate your customers. You can also alienate those very search engines you rely on to get your site in front of your customers.

Another alienation copy disaster is filling your web site with many words that are high volume keywords loosely associated with your business, but are not actually relevant to what you do. An example could be a marketing website including the terms ‘graphic design’ multiple times on their site when they don’t actually do graphic design themselves. A potential client might find their site in a search for local graphic design. This can create frustration and irritation enough that when the potential client actually needs marketing assistance, the last organisation they would deal with is that one.

Writing good copy for your site is the same as writing for any marketing tool. Here are some tips to help you write better web copy which is useful to your customers and can be tweaked to be attractive to search engines and thus be viable.

  1. Know your target audience. Based on your organisation or product marketing strategy, have your target audience defined in your mind before starting. Demographics and buyer preferences can all help you picture the person you are trying to communicate with and influence.
  2. Understand what problem your customers have that you will be able to solve and work out how to communicate that information to them.
  3. Know your own Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Why should they choose you or your product? What makes you stand out from the crowd, knowing the problem they need to solve allows you to phrase your USP into terms that will help your customer to see how you will help them.
  4. Why should your target market want to choose your USP – the WIIFM – a cliché but true – What Is In It For Me? If you don’t phrase your USP in terms of WIIFM, your web copy will be all about you, and not about them. You may have the newest, fastest machinery in town to make their widgets, all that tells them is that you can have the afternoon off after finishing their order. What they need to have explained is, by you having that machinery, they can get their widget product to their customer faster and get their money in quicker and be able to spend it on themselves!

Knowing your market – those real people who inhabit that market space – gives you the tools to know how these people will search for you, what their aims in looking for you or your product are and the type of language that will be familiar to them. This knowledge helps you to write excellent copy for your site that is relevant to helping your prospects and clients make positive decisions about you. As an incidental consequence, writing using this knowledge will also quite naturally be formed around natural keywords which will make your site more attractive to search engines.

Once you have written your content based on the tips above, you can check for 3-4 keyword phrases which are relevant to the content you have written. By all means, if necessary, reword some sentences to ensure keywords are included and that some are near the start of sentences or sections.

Under normal circumstances where you have genuinely understood your customers and your product offering, your copy will already have organically grown into keyword rich and relevant content.

Yes, you need to be visible and relevant to search engines, but more importantly that will be a positive consequence of writing great content that is useful and helpful to your customers.