What is it exactly that copywriters DO when they produce new text for a site makeover? You often see the advertisements; a designer is looking for a freelance web writer who is going to create content around a number of keywords. There's not a lot more information about the process. What are the tricks of the trade and how do you get value for money when hiring a freelance writer?
When you discuss a site makeover with a copywriter, be prepared to answer a lot of questions. Any writer needs to know the answers to at least these questions before he can meaningfully go to town on your content;
What is the site's line of business?
Who is targeted?
How does the client want their web content to reflect their goals?
What is the number of pages of the site?
What is the site's current conversion ratio?
What have site owners done in the past to change this?
What are the conversion ratio targets?
Is the corporate identity still in tact?
What is the identity now and what are the reasons for the change?
Most copywriters have their own style in creating creative text. But note that not every copywriter is necessarily a website copy writer. Everybody goes about content some way or another, but generally people tend to focus on a number of aspects that are wider than merely writing some text and mentioning a number of keywords.
I have developed this strategy for writing successful content for my clients; I will sit down and spell out what I call the 'vital communication factors' of a website. The main points of sale of a business website. Or the general idea behind a general interest website. Or the philosophy, reason for being of an entity other than a business, general interest.
It is around these vital factors, that I will begin to create the skeleton of links and click throughs, or the navigational path. Weaving the text into the navigation is the next stage. I tend to assign some weightings to all the internal hyperlinks, which mirror their importance to the website's vital points before I write the text.
The hyperlinks of any website can be roughly divided in four categories with no real distinctions but which you need to employ using a rule of thumb:
a) Clix generating click throughs (brand awareness)*
b) Clix generating repeat visits by internal referral
(e.g. bookmarks, newsletter signups, brochures);
c) Clix generating traffic (agreements for inbound
links, online marketing for third parties);
d) Clix generating sales
*Do not confuse our use of the term "click throughs" with click
throughs as in the pay per click concept. Pay per click is all about inbound
traffic into a site. Here, I am discussing the internal navigational path.
Once I have the idea of a website's structure along these lines, I start floating into the writing stage and as I go along, I tend to keep a continuous check that the profile of the content and links actually match up with the vital points.
Each website is unique of course and to categorise the links into four categories very rigidly does not make sense. For instance, a link to an article that has also been published elsewhere on the web creates both inbound traffic and repeat visit value and possibly also a click through.
It makes sense to assess each link and construct content around it on using common sense. In this process, I tend to take into account a number of factors, including the navigational path, design possibilities and optimal content size.
Although most sites differ, the links making up the navigational path are generally quite similar in their relation to the vital points; click throughs are generally way less closely related to a site's vital points than for instance sales clicks. Or at least when you build up your sales idea right, the ultimate click will be entirely logically connected with your business concept. As for the middle two categories, they generally are somewhere in the middle in relation to vital points too.
There is not a lot else to writing good website content, apart from gloating over the results with your clients a few months later!
Angelique van Engelen is a writer at http://www.contentClix.com. She works freelance and often collaborates with designers on content makeovers. You may also read her blog http://www.clixyPlays.blogspot.com which gives you a good insight into how the copywriter community at contentClix.com works.