25 Sep Is it Time to Update Your Website’s Copy?
Is your website’s bounce rate high and your leads down? Your website’s copy may be to blame! Poorly performing copy probably isn’t on your troubleshooting list, but adding it and performing a close review could result in taking the necessary steps to bring your site up-to-date, better positioned to meet the needs of your target audience and – of course – deliver more customers.
There are a couple of insidious reasons that copy often stays up long past its sell-by date. First, most business owners and decision-makers aren’t writers. Obvious visual features – such as design that’s stuck in the past – will get your attention, rather than messaging that’s less relevant today than when your site first launched. Second, the copy may not have been all that good to begin with. New businesses often can’t afford a professional copywriter or full-service digital marketing agency, and tend to make-do with whoever will do the job for what they’re able to pay. Or maybe you wrote it yourself to save even more money. Consider the adage, “You get what you pay for,” and the problem comes into focus.
“Website copy is one of the most important aspects of a website,” writes Manish Dudharejia for Search Engine Journal. “Its job is to empathize with the problem, present the solution, and showcase why you are the best company to provide that solution … When push comes to shove, a website with no copy is little more than a jumble of pictures and a color scheme. Moreover, subpar copy will devalue a website – no matter how nice the design features are.”
Why you website’s copy may need updating
As we always say, your competitors won’t tell you about your website’s shortcomings. If you haven’t settled in with your site for a good read lately – especially since February – you could be surprised. Look for the following, and be honest with yourself.
Changes in your industry and/or target audience – The year 2020 has seen great change, although very little of it positive. If your website doesn’t acknowledge that the needs of your target customers may be different now and how your business can help, you’re just sending them to your competitors.
Dudharejia provides a timely example in the cybersecurity industry, noting that such a service traditionally had been geared toward corporations protecting their on-site servers. Since the move to employees working at home rather than in-office as the result of COVID-19, businesses are now more aware of the need to protect home setups from cyberattacks. Websites for IT/cybersecurity services have had to adjust their messaging accordingly, directly addressing this new risk and presenting themselves as providing the right solution.
Also, as our blog post – “Could COVID-19 Change Marketing Forever?” – covered, consumer buying habits that developed during lockdowns may not necessarily return to pre-pandemic patterns. According to HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar, customers are initiating more online interactions with businesses today than they were a year ago, and doing more online research. For this reason, Bodnar sees a silver lining to the cloud of disruption.
“External factors like budgets and industry-specific impacts from COVID-19 will inevitably affect sales cycles, but the data suggests businesses have an opportunity to attract and engage interested customers.”
Of course, that silver lining will only shine if you make the copy changes that tell your website’s visitors that your business has adapted to the new normal, and is ready to help them do likewise.
Even without negative major events, markets evolve over time. Be aware of the products or services in demand among members of your target demographic. These evolve for numerous reasons – such as advances in technology or shifting trends in society. If your business has been keeping up, your website’s copy needs to convey that.
Your keywords may be outdated – Yes, everything inevitably comes back to SEO. Web copy that follows SEO best practices helps your website rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs). But knowing and using these best practices is both art and science, as 800-pound search engine Google frequently (and mysteriously) changes its search engine algorithms. Unless your day job involves SEO, you’re not likely to be aware of such updates to incorporate them into your website – which leaves it vulnerable to falling behind in visitors and even some basic functionalities.
Not keeping up with the times can go to extremes. The practice of keyword stuffing became prevalent during the early days of SEO. As Sozo Copywriting describes it, “Many people … remember ‘the good old days’ of SEO where improving a site’s rankings was supposedly as simple as repeating your target keywords enough times to convince the search engines of yesteryear that your page was relevant to the search terms … Nowadays, though, if you use such tactics, you’ll often find that your page has terrible rankings or has even been filtered out as spam.”
Writes Dudharejia, “Now, this is not to say that you have to change up your copy every week. But to make the most of it, you are wise to keep close tabs on search trends – or have an expert do so – to ensure your site is always delivering the most timely, relevant message.”
Your competitors’ websites are written better – By good writing, we mean compelling copy that engages members of your target audience and motivates them to take the action(s) you want – which will ultimately result in converting them to customers. Again, if you haven’t significantly revised your website’s copy since it launched, your competitors may have invested in professionally written copy and have better kept up with changes in the marketplace.
Visit their sites and take notes on the quality of their copy. Ask yourself the following:
- Does it clearly explain features and benefits?
- Does it tell visitors how their product/service will provide the solution they’re looking for?
- Does it make it clear the next step that visitors should take and lead them through the site in an intuitive manner?
If you notice shortcomings in how your website performs these tasks by comparison, it’s definitely time for a major rewrite.
Why you need to leave website copywriting to the pros
We know that we’ve jumped ahead to our blatant self-promotion, but even if you don’t hire us, you really do need an experienced digital copywriting professional for this job. Our blog post – “Are You Losing Money Writing Your Own Website Copy?” provides all the reasons why taking the DIY approach is counterproductive.
The most common DIY website copy mistakes include the following:
- Unfocused, rambling home page copy.
- Long blocks of text.
- Poor allocation of information (related to poor website design).
- Irrelevant information and information that raises unanswered questions.
- Poor grammar (including sentence fragments), spelling and punctuation.
- Writing in a too-formal style.
Committing any or all of these transgressions can result in a high bounce rate, low engagement and low conversions. Keep in mind that your website just doesn’t represent your business, it is your business – even if your enterprise is strictly brick-and-mortar.
The take-home message
The most important take-away is that your website isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it asset. It needs to change and grow along with your company’s needs – and more importantly, your customers’ needs. Website copy is a vital component that will help your site achieve your marketing goals. Give it the attention it deserves to work harder and smarter for you! If you need help, just contact our team at Virtual Stacks Systems!