Good copy can increase traffic, transform perspectives and even convert visitors into leads. However, it’s hard to know exactly how to quantify ‘good’ and how to create copy that meets this definition.
Is it enough that Google likes it? Or are there a few more steps to be taken? All will be revealed.
What is “good copy”?
Good copy manages to please both readers and Google.
Good copy for readers …
Speaks to them directly, focuses on where they are in the sales funnel, and helps them move to the next stage. Without extensive knowledge of your audience, it will very difficult to create well-targeted copy that evokes the desired response.
Good copy for Google …
Is not that different to good copy for readers. As Google’s algorithms evolve, the gap between writing for humans and writing for search engines is (thankfully) becoming narrower. Write for the reader first and foremost, and then tweak for SEO, making sure you adhere to Google’s quality guidelines.
Good copywriting methods:
Over the years, we’ve accumulated some tips and tricks to help make our written copy as effective as it can be. Here’s a quick look:
- Tilted perspective: Your user is bombarded with marketing messages all day, every day. A good copywriter can break down a reader’s guard with an unexpected angle that resonates with them.
- Fantastic title: On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the piece. You need a fantastic title and an attractive opening sentence to entice your audience in.
- Cut it down: Avoid jargon, hyperbole, and anything that isn’t necessary to the text. Reduce phrases to single words, avoid vague nouns and write in the active voice, not the passive.
- Format: No one wants to read a long stream of text. So break yours up with headings, bullet points, short paragraphs and images.
- Frontload important information: Users scan pieces; they don’t read them. So give your reader the answer to their question right in the first paragraph. That way they may be enticed to stick around a bit longer.
Measuring your copy’s success
Different audiences prefer different things – there is no one-size-fits-all approach for copywriting. The best thing you can do is find out how your readers feel about your existing content. Then use this information to improve the next piece of content you write.
First and foremost, you need to use Google Analytics (GA). This free tool measures every user’s interaction with your site. Many marketers see Google Analytics as a great way to measure traffic, but this is far from the best metric to measure the success of your copy. Why? Because traffic only tells you how many people arrived at a particular piece of content; it tells you nothing about whether they liked it or not. Here are some better GA metrics for measuring your copy’s success:
Bounce rate and pages per session
Your bounce rate is the proportion of people who left after viewing a single page on your website. Pages per session keeps track of how many – and which – pages the rest of the users visited. Blogs tend to have higher bounce rates than static web pages, as there isn’t always a reason to go elsewhere on the site. Therefore, don’t worry too much if your blog’s overall bounce rate is higher than that of the rest of your website. Having said that, try to reduce your bounce rate by ensuring your site and blog are easy to navigate. Increase pages per session by signposting other, relevant pages within anchor text links.
Session/ page timings
This tells you how long users spent on each of your pages and on the site as a whole. Look for the granular detail here: extended session times on transactional or contact form pages can be a negative sign that the copy on these pages is causing hesitation or confusion. By contrast, long page times on blog pieces is usually a good sign that the user is truly engaged with the content.
All pages and content drilldown
Your all pages and content drilldown reports enable you to compare the performance of one piece of content over another, and to benchmark against the average. Compare average page timings from your last few weeks’ worth of blog pieces (remembering to factor in any difference in length)* to see which ones did the best job of retaining readers.
*If a 500-word piece achieves an average page time of 2 minutes, it’s performed better than a 1000 word piece that achieved a 3 minute average page time.
These results will help you determine which types of copy are the most popular. Then you can create further pieces in a similar vein.
Finally, look at social media: has one piece been shared or retweeted more than any other? Ask yourself what was special about that piece, and aim to replicate it in your future work.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
You know you’ve made it in the copywriting world when people are coming to you for inspiration. You are a thought leader, a trendsetter, so you know your copy must be good.
When other websites link back to you and credit your work as a source for their own, your copy can be considered a success. However, you should still guard your copy closely and deal with any acts of plagiarism quickly and calmly.
Plagiarism is defined as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own”, whereas using a piece for inspiration is where you take the themes of the article and present a new angle to the discussion. The latter should include a citation and preferably a link to your original post to ensure that copyright is not infringed upon.
To deter potential plagiarisers, include a disclaimer on your website warning those who visit that you own the rights to your copy and you are prepared to take action against anyone who infringes your copyright.
So, is your copy any good?
Good copy focuses on the user and their needs. Your writing must speak to them on a personal level, providing relevant solutions and advice. Through adjusting your approach to include best practice methods, and iterating your copy according to what your analytics are telling you, dramatic improvements can be made. Copywriting is a subjective discipline, so whether your copy is any good very much depends on whether it achieved its main goal. If your latest blog piece was intended as an educational piece, did the reader learn something new? If your product page was designed to encourage users to add items to their basket, did it succeed in this aim? And finally, does it avoid at all costs, these ways to write really bad web copy?!