Whether you’re building websites or apps, and regardless of your specific field, you’re always going to need copy to flesh out your content. It’s a part of web design that is often overlooked, however, with businesses and individuals alike assuming that it doesn’t matter. Consequently, they pad out their pages with bland text, seeing functional completion as a sensible goal.
This is a mistake. To maximize brand performance, every aspect of a website or app should be polished to a mirror shine, and the copy is no exception. What’s more, it’s actually extremely important, and one of its key goals must be to carry across a perspective that’s clearly human in nature (as opposed to seeming as though it could have been procedurally generated by an AI).
Not convinced that this warrants much attention? That’s alright. In this article, we’re going to cover 5 key reasons why your web copy needs to be human to be heard, so we’ll see if you’re sold by the end. Let’s get started:
Bland copy blurs together
Imagine that you could take a snapshot of the entirety of the internet in this exact moment and back it up to some staggeringly-vast storage medium. Now imagine that you somehow had the time, means and inclination to explore it all: reading every last article, blog post, review, brand identity page, infographic and social media update, with some pieces stretching back to the earliest days of the modern internet — a quest that would take years, or decades, or centuries.
Following the completion of such a question, with your exhaustive notes left aside, what would your fallible human brain remember? Would you remember the robotic auto-generated pages full of garbled text? What about the generic offerings of information? No, of course not. You’d remember creativity: the instances of web copy being funny, or poignant, or profound. These things are matters of human subjectivity, and they stem from human expression.
Human copy invites curiosity
Businesses with significant online operations can easily take the route of being extremely matter-of-fact with their copy, always seeking to answer common questions. Now, having that type of copy is great when you’re dealing with people already invested in your brand: you don’t need to sell them anything, they just have particular things they want to know. But when you’re trying to be heard, you don’t want to be answering questions: you want to be inviting them.
This is really hard to achieve with basic copy, because it doesn’t resonate with people in the way that human copy can. Human copy is far more conversational, and natural wording draws people in through sparking curiosity (per Jericho Writers, dialogue is most potent when it’s oblique and adds intrigue). If someone can read your copy and be left with some burning questions that they urgently want answered, that’s a strong indication that it’s working well.
You need a unique brand
When you’re trying to stick out online, you need to be unique. There are plenty of businesses that have nothing interesting or unusual to offer and suffer as a result. The main problem for them is the level of choice on offer: whether an internet user is looking to find some information or make a transaction, they have thousands of websites to choose from, and those are just the ones they can easily find through making a simple search.
Particularly since corporate identity now needs to be a lot more empathetic (this is a time of business ethics, after all), it’s quite difficult to showcase unique brand elements through cold and dispassionate copy. The more relaxed and human you make your copy, the more freedom you have to make it distinct from anything your competitors have to offer.
Authenticity is valuable
While having a unique brand is certainly necessary, it isn’t sufficient to get lasting attention. You also need to demonstrate authenticity. Consider how many companies come across as highly deceptive in their copy, claiming to care deeply about customer satisfaction but radiating the impression that they only care about their revenue. You need your claims to be believable.
Now think about what makes a corporate statement credible. Is it the broad use of buzzwords (such as these listed by Bluleadz), or a clinical and professional tone? No. It’s apparent sincerity. If the company comes across as genuine in what it’s saying, the statement will mean so much more — and the key to coming across that way is writing in your natural voice instead of assuming a clumsy formal tone.
It’s much better for SEO
Last (but not least), your web copy needs to be human to be heard because organic search is the biggest driver of traffic, and while artificial-sounding copy once had the edge in the SERPs, those days have largely passed us by. Now that search bots are capable of parsing natural language, and algorithms take cues from on-page metrics, it’s the pages with natural-sounding copy that tend to come out on top.
Even if this weren’t the case at this point in time, it would be an inevitability. There’s another basic correlation with SEO, of course, which is that great copy increases the likelihood that a particular page will be shared: and the more back links get formed (whether through regular sites or social media platforms), the more Google and other search engines will see it as valuable.
Ever since the earliest days of the internet, SEO professionals have felt the pressure to make web copy artificial and clunky to accommodate search bots. Couple that with the existing urge to sound “professional” by adhering to an old-fashioned conception of a worthwhile business, and you have a recipe for bland and generic copy.
For all the reasons we’ve looked at here, though, and no doubt various others, it’s a mistake to let your web copy come across as robotic and matter-of-fact. Pulling back on the restrictions and letting some personality shine through is the best way to capture and keep attention. You’ll stand out, be more likable and memorable, spark curiosity, and achieve search rankings. Surely that’s worthy of some priority?
Rodney Laws is an e-commerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio