One of the most frequent requests I get from content creation clients is to make their site copy ‘pop’. And I’ll be honest that I still don’t really know what that means. I think it means that they want their pages to grab someone’s attention. They want their content to stand out and to be compelling enough that it encourages potential customers to dig deeper into the Web site. That’s the goal of any great home page. But how can you accomplish that?
Below are a few suggestions for sites that want their content to ‘pop’, whatever that really means.
Make the content scannable: It’s said a lot that people don’t read on the Web and that they just bounce around from site to site until they see something that finally forces them stop. I’d argue there’s a heck of a lot of truth to that, which is why creating scannable content is essential in getting people to take notice of your site. How do you make your content scannable?
- Use bullet points
- Implement proper use of bold and italics to highlight the terms they’re looking for
- Use both headers and sub-headers to break out topics
- Write short paragraphs
- Leave lots of white space
- Use links
Put your call-to-action above the fold: If people are just scanning your content, then sticking one call-to-action at the bottom of the page probably isn’t a good marketing strategy. You don’t know they’re even going to make it that far! Instead, find natural ways to include multiple calls-to-action so that you’re guaranteed people see them. Use one at the top of your page with a graphic, put another at the bottom of your first paragraph and then put another down towards the end of the copy. Litter them throughout the page so that they’re guaranteed to get visibility. After all, your call-to-action is the thing that’s going to get your visitors to do what you want them to do. Make sure they see it. If you need some help with call-to-action best practices, Smashing Magazine has a killer article on the topic.
Make it readable: Have you ever tried to read your Web site copy aloud? If not, I dare you to give it a shot. If you have a hard time getting through it, then it’s safe to assume that a potential customer is facing the same difficulty. Many business owners will attempt to ‘impress’ their audience with big words, industry jargon and other comprehension roadblocks. Lose all that. Instead, write your home page as if you’re talking to the customer standing right in front of you. How would you introduce yourself and explain what your business does to them? Find those words and put them on your Web site. Use the words they would be most likely to use. Leave the impressive jargon for your competitors that you don’t really like anyway.
Be visually appealing: If your home page isn’t appealing to the eye, customers aren’t going to stay on it too long. They’re going to find a site that is. Things like site animations, videos that play automatically (and scare people) or huge, never-ending blocks of text are all things that may send a potential customer running. Instead of sending people out, use images to draw people in, lots of white space and some of the different scannable text strategies like the ones mentioned above. When someone lands on your site, they should feel confident that you’re trustworthy and not get bogged down in what’s happening on the page. Make your home page inviting.
Look to the present: Talking about yourself in the past tense is boring. It’s passive and it makes it really easy for a visitor to scan right over your content without stopping. Instead, switch over to the present or future tense to add some extra oomph and excitement to your words. It’s a very subtle change that can make a big impact.
Watch page length: Though the Internet gods have blessed us with the scroll bar, don’t make visitors scroll on for days. Because the truth is, they won’t. They’ll get bored and head somewhere else. You’re far better off creating shorter, easy to digest pages that will capture a visitor’s attention and encourage them to dig deeper into the site to learn more. After all, the goal really isn’t to keep them on your home page -it’s to get them into your site and onto a conversion path that you defined.
Watch your language: People land on your site with a mission. They’ve performed a search looking for information or the answer to their question – your home page should take that into consideration. This is where keyword research comes into play. You want to use the exact words and phrases on your site that a user would type in to find you. The more your site ‘matches’ what they were searching for, the more they’re going to consider you relevant to their needs. And they’re going to stick around to learn more. You want to write content that shows that your site has the answer to their problem. If you don’t know why people are landing on your Web site, then you need to first do some market research. However, hopefully you’ve already done this as part of your keyword research strategy.
Those are some very easy ways to add some power and ‘pop’ to your home page. What’s worked for you?
Hey Lisa, thanks for the tips!! I’m always trying to get clients to keep their ad copy shorter and with more spacing – will bookmark this and send it on to anyone who wants to upload 1,000 word ads in future 🙂
For some reason when I saw “Watch Your Language” I thought you would say something about swearing or being inappropriate.
Great advice. Really applicable to most every small business’s website.
I am glad to see that this happens to other industries rather than graphic design, you have to love when a client/prospect tries and uses some type of descriptive visual to something that can’t b described that way. Or when they do they set themselves up for interpretation.
It’s like in design when a client tells me they want something to look clean and elegant. Lets think about this for a moment. He who sees maybe 5 websites a week who has limited design background compared to a graphic designer who went to four plus years in a prestigious art college in new york, painted for about 3 plus years, designed work for a variety of industries for over 10 years, and has seen about 30 design website per day. Sorry guess I was venting a but there as well, the point is that I interpret this direction very differently than the client does. And its my job to try and decipher what they mean. Thats the “professional” part of professional graphic designer.
Thanks and Regards
Noel for Nopun.com
a professional graphic design studio
Lisa: Thanks for the great tips. Valuable reading as always.
By the way: I thought pop was a soda / soft drink! 😉 http://popvssoda.com
I am saving your words, because I’m just now doing some web site writing. And while I think I know quite a bit about writing, having it done it all my professional life, there’s a difference between writing, say, a press release or newspaper column and penning something for the Internet that will have people reading the copy — and RESPONDING. Glad to see that many of the points you make are among the points I had in mind as well.
These are great tips, Lisa! Nice job. Here’s another great article filled with surefire tips to make a small business website POP: http://ask.officelive.com/smallbusiness/wiki/articles/5-surefire-ways-to-stand-out-online.aspx
Also, Lisa, I know the Office Live team would love for you to share your thoughts and expertise at the Office Live page on Facebook. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/officelive. Join the community and conversation.
MSFT Office Live Outreach Team
Thanks for good information
Thanks for great info