“We’re an Essex-based design business, with 15 years’ experience in the industry…”
What do you think of this as an opening line on a website? If you were in need of an Essex-based design business, would you be tempted to read more?
I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t.
For one thing, it’s dull – and I don’t want dullness from a design business. For another, it sounds exactly the same as a LOT of other Essex-based design businesses (yes, even the X-years’ experience in the industry).
Where’s the creativity? Where’s the personality?
That’s often the problem when businesses get too hung up on SEO-friendly copy (search engine optimisation). They use the same keywords, in the same search-engine friendly ways…
…so they all end up sounding the same.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t think about what search engines might find useful as you go about writing your web copy. Just don’t get so obsessed with pleasing Google, that you forget about pleasing potential customers.
SEO is a much-misunderstood topic
Research by Copyblogger shows that “almost 85% of the total factors determining how a web page is ranked are based on things that happen off the page itself”.
Things are always changing in search-engine land, too – so you could find that what used to work, suddenly doesn’t any more.
In other words, you could write SEO-friendly web copy until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t put some regular work in behind the scenes, it won’t matter very much.
Some of that work involves ensuring your website loads quickly, and that it’s mobile-friendly. Other work involves consistently writing content that’s so interesting, entertaining and compelling, other people want to share it.
Quality will always matter most
Use keywords and long-tail phrases by all means (a long-tail phrase is made up of at least three words that are very specific to your product or service). But don’t get too fixated on them.
A good start is to try focusing on what makes you unique first, then weave in some popular keywords and phrases afterwards.
(Hint: uniqueness comes from detail, so try drilling your business down to some customer-focused essentials, such as: what’s the biggest emotional benefit of using your product or service? What can new customers expect when they contact you?)
Focus on results, not experience
A lot of people think highlighting their many years of experience in a particular industry will do the job of selling their business.
But in most cases, it won’t. Not on its own, anyway.
The reason is simple. We all know people who have worked in the same industry for years, and who (whispers) just aren’t very good.
In my former life as an HR Manager, it frustrated me when people were recommended for promotion, just because they’d been with the company for the ‘right’ amount of time. Talent and results should always count for more than plain experience.
To underline my point, I’ve got over 40 years’ experience of trying to get a good night’s sleep. But I still don’t succeed in that as often as I should.
So instead of writing about the years of experience you’ve had, try writing about what it’s taught you. If you really have been in the business for over 15 years, for example, you should have plenty of actual results to showcase. They will help you stand apart from someone who’s only just started out.
(Though from my personal point of view as a customer, most of the time I couldn’t care less about how long someone has worked in their industry. I’m far more concerned about their approach, how they’ll work with me, and what results I can expect).
I know. You are a human, so how could you come across as anything else?
But you’d be surprised how robotic some people can get when they start writing copy, or any kind of business content for that matter. And is there anything more dull than overly formal, overly wordy business content that reads the same as every other website you’ve seen?
Writing only with search engines in mind is sure to distance you from the searchers themselves. Real people who are actively looking for what you do.
So help them choose you over all the others, by creating regular and informative content that fizzes with life.