by Steve Kellas
One of the most common mistakes I see in web copywriting is made on home pages – and other top-level pages – where the writer describes what is found in a sub-section of the website.
Here’s what I mean:
“News: Get all our latest news and updates.”
This is not helpful (I know what news is, thanks). Nor, is this interesting to me as a reader.
There is a better way. And you might recognise this advice from creative writing classes or from the comments of creatives everywhere.
Show the reader, don’t tell the reader
What does that mean for web copywriting?
Taking our example about the news, it means that instead of telling the reader that they can find news and updates in the news section, it is more powerful to list the latest 3 news stories.
Doing this reveals more to the reader in fewer words than your summary ever can, and it provides the reader with opportunities to learn more about your business or brand.
This works just as well in an e-commerce context.
Amazon doesn’t just tell you that you can “find the latest deals in the ‘deals’ section.” They show you what is on sale today. Right on the home page.
Do you see the difference?
Instead of having home page content that reflects your site structure, pull out the most relevant bits for your readers (most relevant to THEM) and emphasise this on your home page.
If you are in a service business, highlight some of your unique selling propositions instead of writing about what they can find in the ‘services’ section.
Consider the average home page summary:
“Services: We offer services such as X, Y and Z for our customers around the Really Boring area. Read more >”
Versus the more interesting:
“A Complete Package: Every X or Y we complete for our customers comes with support included and a free 3-month check-up to ensure everything is working the way they expect it to. Here’s what we can do >”
Let goals dictate what you write
As a web copywriter, you need to understand what the goals are for the website, the reader, and for the page itself, and you need to write (or prioritise) content that will direct readers towards those goals.
We’re talking about home pages, so I’ll focus there.
Your readers have a purpose in mind when they arrive at your website. Generally speaking, you don’t want your reader to spend much time on your home page. You want to show them how they can accomplish what they came to your site to do.
Show them the titles for your news stories.
Show them the blog post titles with summaries.
Show them what makes you different, better, or more interesting.
A brilliant analogy for how to do this can be found in a wonderful article on E-WRITE: The Bite, The Snack, And The Meal: How To Feed Content-Hungry Site Visitors.
In essence, show readers that you have what they need/want and lead them through to achieve their goals.
Go review your home page and top-level pages now. Do you simply summarise what the reader will find, or are you doing something more powerful?