An arresting headline is important

An arresting headline is important

Writing for the web is similar to writing for any other medium but it does have some unique protocols that must be followed. This article outlines the 5 big mistakes business owners make when writing website copy and how to avoid them.

1. No relevant key words on the Home Page:

Google rank your website based on the number and density of key words featured on your website, and in particular, on your Home Page. The only way Google can tell if your site is a relevant search result is by the words you use on your web pages.  As a result, it’s definitely in your interest to load up your page with significant key words.

For example, if you were called Melbourne Family Lawyers, you’d make sure that your pages were liberally sprinkled with key words like: Melbourne, Family, Lawyers; and the phrase “Melbourne Family Lawyers.”

So how do you know what key words you should use? Simple. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and figure out what key words they type into Google to find you. You can also use programmes like Word Tracker and Overture to help you identify your key words.

By the way, you can’t just dump a bunch of key words on the page that don’t make sense and hope for the best – Google is smart and can pick up context too! Finding a copywriter who can write elegant copy whilst incorporating your major key words is a good investment in your business.

2. No attention-grabbing headline:

Think about it. When you land on a new website, what’s the first thing you look for? Relevancy, right? In other words, does this site give me what I’m looking for?

The only way you can find this out is by reading the headline and the first paragraph. If those two sections don’t answer the key questions of: “So What?” and “What’s In It For Me?” then your website is a lost cause.

Your headline also needs to be specific. Take a look at this headline. It’s not particularly clever but it’s very specific which helps attract attention and convey credibility.

“The Australian Education Programme helps 32,000 families put their children through school every year. Established in 1971, it now has $2.2 billion funds under management.”

What gains your attention are the specific figures of 32,000, 1971 and $1.2 billion. Taken in isolation, each of these figures serve a function.

a) 32,000 – this figure demonstrates that a lot of other people have put their trust in this company and therefore it’s safe for you to do so too.

b) 1971 – by promoting longevity the company reassures prospects that they’re not ‘fly by nighters’.

c) 2.2 billion – this proves the company is large, reputable and a significant player.

In just 25 words, they’ve told us what they do, when they started and how much money they manage. Not only that, the specificity builds the all-important credibility factor that every site absolutely must have. Which brings me to my next point.

3. No attempt to build credibility:

The fastest way to encourage people to purchase online is to remove doubt and build credibility.

Written and videoed testimonials, case studies and statistics all provide evidence that you are worthy of the consumer’s trust. We all know that testimonials can be works of fiction, so include as much detail as you can so there’s no room for doubt.

For example, take a look at these two testimonials. Which one sounds more credible to you?

A. ”With Harry’s coaching, profits have increased from 22% to a whopping 67%.” — J.S., Brighton.


B. ”With Harry’s coaching, profits have increased from 22% to a whopping 67%.” — Jonathan Seery, Managing Director, Subaru City, Brighton, Victoria

It’s fair to say the second testimonial is more powerful because it’s clear that Jonathan Seery is a real person.

4. They don’t tell people what they sell

Can you pinpoint exactly what you sell and express it in on your Home Page in 10 words or less? If you can’t, this could be why your website marketing is letting you down.

Let me clarify. Most business owners know what they’re selling, but they don’t know how to say it (or “package” it) correctly. As a result, they offer the same old, same old that everyone else offers and wonders why they don’t get any sales.

Here’s an example to demonstrate my point.

I recently decided to hire a personal trainer to help me get into shape for my up coming wedding. I didn’t know any trainers personally so I was pretty much flying blind. However, imagine my surprise when I saw a website headline promoting the “Shape Up For The Wedding” Personal Training Package. Just what I was looking for! – a high-intensity programme for brides who’ve had one too many pieces of cake before the big day.

As it turns out, this trainer wasn’t just brawny, he was brainy as well. In his ‘Wedding Package” he included the following items:

• 10 x 1-hour sessions with a personal trainer
• 10-week menu planner
• Weekly motivational emails
• 1 x teleseminar each week with the trainer
• 10-page e-book: “How To Lose or Gain Weight With Low GI Foods”

I noticed he also had the “Baby Boomers Pack” for the over 55s looking to get rid of that spare tyre; the “Triathletes Pack” for elite athletes training for Iron Man events and the “Yummy Mummies Pack” for women who’ve just given birth and want to get back into shape.

This trainer was inundated with work and I could see why. He told people exactly what he sold and what they would get when they hired him.

The reason this ‘packaging’ concept works so well is because you can sum up in a few words what you do and communicate that quickly in the headline.

5. No relevant Offer:

It was my mother’s birthday a few weeks ago. Seeing as I’d left it too late to send a present in the mail, I did what all forgetful daughters do and sent flowers.

I searched for a while and came across a site that offered free chocolates with every order over $60.00. At the risk of sounding like a cheapskate, I took up that offer. Why? Because it gave me something for nothing. And everyone likes a bargain.

To differentiate yourself from the competitors, come up with an offer that’s interesting, relevant and useful. It could be a free report, a free CD, or an invitation to a seminar. The offer doesn’t have to be expensive either. Those chocolates probably cost $3 wholesale. I spent $80.00 on flowers so investing $3 to make $80.00 is good business.

Investing time to make your website the best it can be is time well spent. Look at your site as if you were looking at it for the first time and see if you’ve made any of the mistakes listed here. If you do, pick one thing you’d like to change and start with that. Don’t get overwhelmed with changing everything at once. Start small, hire a good website copywriter and you’ll find your site will be listed on Page One of Google in no time at all.


This post was reproduced with the kind permission of Bernadette Schwerdt.

Bernadette Schwerdt is the Founder and CEO of The Australian School of Copywriting. She runs Copywriting: Writing For Profit, a seminar and home study course for those looking to become freelance copywriters or for those wanting to write for their own business. If you need to hire a copywriter or need a keynote speaker for your next conference or seminar, contact Bernadette on   (03) 9372 0800  or 0419891932 or visit Send for her free e-book: How To Write Headlines That Sell by emailing her   


About the Author Robin Storey

Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.

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