Does your website need content or copy? And what's the difference anyway?
In a nutshell, content informs and copy persuades.
Copy is the technical term for material that is meant to engage your audience and persuade them to take action (sign up for a newsletter, buy a product or service, make a phone call), to let them know why they should choose you rather than someone else, to set yourself apart in your field, to lay out the benefits of your product or services.
Copy is based on marketing principles and the psychology of sales and persuasion. To achieve its persuasive purpose, you (or your writer) have to dig deep into your business and the benefits you offer, analyze your target market and identify their hot buttons, know what makes you different from everyone else in your field, then wrap it all up in words that motivate.
Content, on the other hand, is informational and educational and comes most commonly in the form of articles, blog posts, white papers or videos that establish you as an expert in the field.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and website content
With the rise of SEM and the discovery that feeding the search engines lots of content could help your website rankings, the demand for website content exploded. And this is where the boundaries between content and copy started to become fuzzy and misunderstood. The murkiness deepened with the rise of blogs, which are built around content.
The popularity of content also led to the much-maligned "content farms" that churn out hundreds of keyword-laden articles with the express purpose of feeding the search engines. In early 2011 Google introduced updates that attempt to stop this deluge of low quality content.
What does all this mean for you? What does YOUR website need?
That depends. Some pages may need copy, some pages may need content. It depends on your objective for that page.(You do have an objective for each page, don't you?)
This is where it gets sticky. I see an enormous number of sites that are built around content, but without a single piece of copy to persuade me of anything. So someone can come to the site, get tons of information yet not take a single step towards hiring you or finding out more about your product or service. They're happy to get free information and you lose out.
My rule of thumb: If you want to persuade readers to take action, you need copy. if you want to educate or inform them, use content.
For a very basic site, the home page, the bio page and the services page need copy as do any pages where you are directly selling a service or a product. This is where you should consider hiring a copywriter to build your copy around those elements that give it persuasive punch.
Contents kicks in for your article directory, your monthly newsletter, your "giveaways" or your blog posts.
What happens when you know the difference between website content and website copy?
It helps you decide:
· How to approach writing each page of your website.
· What kind of professional to hire. Some specialize in content, some in copy, some do both but you need to be able to pick the right one and let them know what you want.
· How to allocate your marketing dollars. It's more time-consuming and expensive to write copy because of the analysis and skills involved but it is more instrumental in selling than content.
Since you approach website content and website copy differently and they have different purposes, they are not interchangeable: they complement one another.
Copyright 2011 Maggie Dennison. All rights reserved.