I was fortunate to attend a presentation of Ginny Redish, author of the best-selling Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works. I definitely plan to read the book!
The focus of the presentation was not usual perspective of SEO copy writing, but web content in general as a method of achieving business objectives. SEO is definitely important, but what actually “happens” when the user is found the web site…
Interesting points from the presentation:
Consider yourself a user and a web site as a “web story.” Start with the goal: why the user wants to visit the web site?
The purpose of the content:
- solve the problem
- accomplish the task
Usability definition (which was created 30 years ago and still relevant – human beings have not changed):
The content useful if:
- users can find what they need
- users can understand what they found
- users can act appropriately on their find
- users believe that all the time and energy spent is worth the effort
Use of the web site is a conversation – use personas!
If you are not the newspaper – don’t focus on the news (particularly on the home page…)
Web is different from print. Who starts the conversation on the web site? The user.
People don’t read the copy
- people focus on what they need
- people read just enough to satisfy their goals
Average time spent on the home page: 25 – 35 seconds
Site where people find something: about 4 minutes
Site which people abandon: about 2 minutes
Don’t hog the conversation – respect people’s time. It will increase the conversion rate.
Changing paragraphs to bullets generally increase the conversion rate.
Research in AARP: current generation of older people do read content on the web because they feel obligated to do so, not because they want to do it.
Web site must connect in the language the site visitors bring to the conversation.
A usual mistake in creation of a headline – using the internal language of the document that would not normally be available to anybody except people who expect it. For example: Roadmap for performance-based navigation. Very unclear what it could be…
– How much do Americans pay for fruits and vegetables?
– How many fruits and vegetables do you need?
A marketer should think: How do I get my brand messages across through answering questions my users are asking? The users are starting the conversation.
First: answer the user’s questions; then market… This is the approach that is different from print.
Questions to ask before creating a web site:
- What are my business goals?
- Who is my target audience?
- What are the conversations my target audience wants to start?
However… find the marketing moment when the site visitor is ready.
Book sites are good example of utilizing marketing moments: first – they answer the most important questions (shipping time, price), and then book sites attempt an upsell by displaying other books the shopper might want. This works similar to the customer service – answering the question first and trying to upsell after answering the question.
Don’t miss the marketing moments by forgetting calls to action!
Best practices of writing copy:
- main point first
- set context
- talk to your visitor
- break info in chunks
- respect visitor’s time
- short paragraphs
- short sentences
- fragments, lists
- all best practices came from linguists (working with conversations)
People skim and scan; if the section is broken into smaller chunks – more will be read.
Blind people also “skim” by reading only headings first; use <h> tag for headings rather than class.
Every web site needs a content strategy
- Is your content planned?
- Is it coordinated?
- What does content needs to achieve?
- What are the needs for the future?
- Do you have a marketing plan?
Focus on content – think CONVERSATION.