Every single visitor to your website is a potential customer. That puts an enormous amount of pressure on your website content, and particularly on the home and products pages, to perform a variety of tasks; engage the reader, call to action and present a positive and professional first impression. Your website copy is therefore intrinsic to the success of your site, not just from a keyword and search engine optimization perspective, but also in terms of sales figures, reputation and branding.
Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation
Even the most experienced of journalists and copywriters with years of experience behind them and professional qualifications to their name frequently call upon style guides, thesaurus and grammar references. Languages changes and is such a fluid thing that rules regarding syntax change often too. Not all of us are taught the basic principles of grammar and punctuation at school, and even those that are will often benefit from a refresher course every now and then.
Keeping punctuation and grammar aids at your side when writing website copy is a good habit to get into. Most word processing programs will also provide spelling and grammar checks as part of the software package, so there is no real excuse for mistakes to seep through into published copy. Any mistake or obvious error in spelling, punctuation and grammar can shake buyer confidence. If you can’t get the basics right, what does that say about the attention to detail given to your products, services and customers?
Are you sabotaging sales?
Good website copy works alongside a well-designed site, ease of navigation and a quick and simple checkout system to promote strong sales figures. A website littered with spelling or grammar mistakes can quickly turn buyers off and destroy the hard work, time and money that have gone into developing other parts of the site.
Likewise, product descriptions that are uninformative, brief or bland are guaranteed to send visitors elsewhere. Just one or two sentences per product may limit the likelihood of glaringly obvious grammar or spelling problems, but will do little to turn a potential client on to your company. As a rule of thumb, aim to write at least three detailed paragraphs about every product or service listed on your website. Be clear and concise – you don’t need long, rambling, descriptive website copy, but succinct descriptions of specifications, capabilities, materials and unique selling points. Even bullet point notes can work well and actually stimulate sales. The short, truncated presentation of information is easy for the reader to glance through and digest, the most important points do not get lost amidst filler copy, while the uncluttered design works well on devices such as cell phones.
Striking the right tone, while also checking spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity of information and relevance of detail is not easy. It is absolutely critical though – too corporate and the information can come across as dry and stale, but too informal and you risk losing the respect of your audience. As always, competitor websites are an invaluable source of inspiration. Studying the way they approach product descriptions may give you a much clearer idea of what you want to achieve with your own site. Even sites not related to your industry can help set the tone – pick a high profile site such as Amazon and more often than not, you’ll get a lesson in how it should be done.
Check and Check Again
Even Lois Lane had an editor, so don’t be afraid to ask others to check your web copy before it goes live. It’s common to become so familiar with your own work and writings that you read straight over mistakes and miss grammatical faux pas no matter how many times you may check your work. Ask a colleague or friends or family to read through, acting as your own collective sub-editors. Adding this safeguard will slow down the production of website copy, but fewer errors will slip through the net, helping you to present exactly the right first impression.