Copywriting: Make Your Site Search-friendly
You’ve hired a terrific agency to design your Web site. You have competent programmers putting it together so it’s fast, clean and bug-free. You’ve registered your site into every search engine known to mankind (to date). But nobody’s finding you, and visits are light and non-productive. What could be wrong?
You may be suffering from the “My creative’s all wrong for my search engine” blues. And you’re not alone. If your site was developed more than two years ago, it’s probably not up to speed on how to be attractive to today’s crawlers.
In this, my first column for Catalog Success, I won’t cover complicated programming. I’m a writer and creative person, and that’s not my business. But it is a writer’s business to understand how to write copy that will get the action you want.
Keep It Plain and Simple
Make your Web site easy to find by search indexes, otherwise known as search engines. The biggest search engines have software called spiders or robots (or “bots” for short) that grab some amount of information stored in your Web pages. They then index and store the information so that when someone is doing research for things like products or services, the engines immediately can find that information.
There also are indexes that don’t use spiders. In fact, a small number of them contain background information about each page in your site that includes titles, descriptions and keywords. These indexes are less important. And finally, of course, there are pay-per-click systems.
The key to making your Web site attractive to all of these elements is to plan carefully in your programming by writing powerful keywords and engaging on-the-pages copy or “content.”
Surprising Results from Analysis
To make it work best from a “keyword” point of view, conduct a keyword analysis; you may be surprised which words on your site actually are bringing in your customers.
These keywords are pretty valuable, and it’s worth your time to try to narrow down the words that best describe you. By using very general words, you are going to be hit less often than your bigger or more active competitors.
Web direct marketing is like all other direct marketing in that the more specifically targeted the copy on your site, the more likely your site will attract hits.
If you’re a food gift seller, and your keywords are food, gift, basket and chocolate, for example, they’re too general. But if you have some specific products such as caramel corn, then phrases that include caramel corn, popcorn and even kettle corn would be better. Even better, if you have a special jalapeño caramel corn, then those specific words would be more effective.
There was a time when Web site creative directors could afford to be control freaks. They’d make the entire site out of gorgeous and carefully designed JPEGs and GIFs. They believed if they had a massive list of keywords programmed in, the sites would be found instantly.
But it wasn’t a good idea then, and it’s most certainly obsolete now. Today, this kind of site is pure suicide for anyone hoping for visits. A site without live copy is one that can’t be found by search spiders and bots.
The more useful information you write, both in terms of your main product pages and your added-value content pages, the more likely you’ll have words that match your prospect’s search jargon. And the more likely your site will show up on search engines — and sooner. Know how to examine your keywords and develop the content to work with them. If you don’t know, get help.
Carol Worthington-Levy is partner of Creative Services at Lenser, a catalog consultancy. Reach her at (408) 269-6871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.