The next time you’re sitting at home on your iPad doing a little online shopping or allotting some time at work to read up on the latest news, take a moment to really look at the web pages you’re visiting. If you take even 10 seconds to let your eyes wander about the page, it’s likely that you’ll notice the common theme of the Internet—it’s one giant advertisement.
Related: 7 grammatical errors that hinder your web copy
Just about everything that ever was or ever will be on the web is a sales pitch, directed to the billions of people who surf it each day. Whether it’s a physical product, a subscription, an idea or even a matter of opinion, no matter what you’re looking at boils down to a sales pitch. Blog writers may try to convince you that Elvis is still alive in someone’s basement, while every single news site worth its weight in nickels is pitching the same tagline: “Get the latest breaking news here!”
So, if everything is part of one giant ad and each piece of content on the web is competing against billions of others like it for attention, what separates the good from the bad? What makes one website’s copy more effective or engaging than another’s?
The answer is at the fingertips of any good web content writer. Knowing what to say is only half the battle—it’s how you say it that’s will draw readership and engagement. Now, this may sound like Copywriting 101, but it’s often the simplest details that writers overlook that set a threshold for what is versus what could have been. In fact, the most basic feature of web content writing that’s overlooked is word choice.
Consider this brief description for a company selling widgets:
“Our widgets are superior to the competition because they offer superior quality, a superior warranty and come backed by a superior guarantee. Don’t pass up on our superior widgets—invest in Company X superior widgets today!”
Did anything about that put you off? Is the word “superior” ringing in your head? Do you want to buy Company X widgets? Clearly, this is an over exaggerated example, but it’s actually not far off from a lot of web content being used by companies today to pitch their messages. Writers tend to get stuck on a concept, an idea or even a word, writing out entire pages of copy without even noticing the redundancy.
In this case, fixing the problem is as easy as proofreading and breaking out a thesaurus:
“Our widgets are superior to the competition because they offer top-notch quality, an unbeatable warranty and an unparalleled guarantee. Don’t pass up on our widgets—invest in Company X today!
Now, Company X products are still superior, but much more enticing to someone in the market for a good widget. All it took was a little word sleuthing by an attentive copywriter and a little bit of finesse to create a message that gets the point across and does it in a way that’s inviting until the end.
Kyle Danowski is a senior editor with ProPRcopy, a leading U.S. content creation agency.