A client I’m helping with her first business venture asked me what “web copy” was the other day, and it made me realise that even though social media and the internet seem to be very much a part of everyone’s daily lives now, for some of us, the world of digital can still be a little daunting. So I thought it might be helpful to write a blog post explaining three of the main concepts that contribute to business success online: copywriting for the web; content marketing; and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Be discoverable online
The main purpose of building a website for your business is so that your clients or customers can find you online. Starting with a strong brand and design is the first step. But just as important are the words you choose to attract people in, and the activity needed to bring it to people’s attention. That’s where good copy, content and digital marketing come in. Without these, your website will be ignored by Google and the other search engines as well as by your potential customers.
It’s pretty exciting, setting up your own business and, as the founder, it’s understandable that you’d be passionate about your new venture. However, just using your website to tell others about your passion won’t sell your products and services for you. Many new business owners make the mistake of writing their web copy (the text on their website) from their own point of view and not from that of the people they are trying to sell to.
The art of good copywriting is to find the words that describe your business and values that are also the same words your customers would use when they are looking for the services you can provide them. It’s about researching and understanding your market, and then using that information to market to them. Copywriting for the web uses a different technique than many people are used to writing: consumers’ attention span online is much shorter, so the trick is to use headings, shorter paragraphs and the right keywords to get to the point quicker.
There’s more to marketing your business online than setting up a Facebook page and linking it to your Instagram account. Digital marketing requires content, for a start. Online content can be anything from text, photos, videos, links, a blog post, sharing other people’s social media posts, or funny YouTube clips. The key is to make sure that whatever you share and post online reinforces your brand identity so that consumers can easily, and positively, recognise and interact with your business. That’s why it’s usually best to work out a content strategy from the outset.
Social media is only one part of content, or digital, marketing, and it’s best to look at social media as just one of the marketing channels available to you to spread the message about your business, rather than as a standalone activity. One of the main reasons for investing effort in digital marketing is to achieve that holy grail of top ranking on Google and other search engines like Bing. A good content marketing strategy will use links, content and keywords that drive traffic - i.e. your online consumers - back to your website for those all important web clicks. The search engines take note of that activity and reward you for it. And that makes you more visible to customers searching for you online.
Search engine optimisation is what ties it all together. SEO is about integrating your keywords, copy and online content with your social media marketing to encourage more traffic to your website - in other words, setting up your virtual market stall to attract more potential customers to buy your wares. There’s also a more technical side to SEO: finding opportunities for back links and directory listings specific to your industry, and some people will add pay per click campaigns too.
A well-designed and well-written website is both the starting point and the end point. It’s not just about having the right keywords in there, but also about regularly updating the content to keep the site interesting, both to consumers and to the search engines whose algorithms are constantly checking these things. That’s why it’s a good idea to incorporate a Blog or a News section into the design - updating it will do your rankings good and you’ll have content to share on social media - just make sure you optimise the copy you write for the search engines as well as your target market!