Internet Copywriting – Why Is It Different

Internet copywriting is copywriting, isn’t it? Copywriting is copywriting, surely, whether it’s online or offline?
Well, no, it isn’t. Of course, there are lots of principles that apply to all copywriting. But there are at least four important reasons why copywriting for the Web is different.
Internet users are active, not passive. They are usually sitting with their finger on the mouse button. They can click away from a site as easily and quickly as they arrived at it. In copywriting for the Web you must forget yourself and look at what you are doing from the users’ point of view. You have seconds to capture their interest – if you don’t, they will leave.
There are thousands and thousands of web sites. No matter what a site is about, there will be very many others on the same topic. If someone is looking at a billboard, a brochure or a mailing, it will be the only one in front of them at that point in time. On the web site you have to make an offer that is sufficiently compelling to convince visitors that your site is the one they should be looking at.
If you have a business, your site is your online store. Think of your site as a real store and your visitors as customers who come into the store. When you walk into a physical store, what do you expect the store keeper to say? Perhaps something like “How may I help you?” or “What can I do for you?” You don’t expect him or her to greet you with a long speech about himself or herself, how long in business, how much the business made last year, what his/her qualifications are…Yet it is amazing how many web sites greet their visitors like that on their home page! Make your visitors feel you are interested in THEM. Put information about yourself in the “About Us” page – if your visitors have clicked on that, it means they want to know.
The most important reason why internet copywriting is different: how did the visitor arrive at your site? Almost certainly, via a search engine. In other words, they have typed in keywords. The keywords represent the problem they have in their minds or the solution they are looking for. When they arrive at your site, they need to see immediately that it addresses their problem, answers their question, or provides the solution they want. And this means that you can’t get away from the importance of keywords. You may find the idea of keywords boring, but unfortunately in internet copywriting they are essential. Of course, this does not mean that you should be stuffing your copy with keywords. Search engines take a dim view of this, as well as making your copy very unpleasing to read. It does mean that you have to build up a picture of your target customer, based on the main keywords for your site, which represents their problems, desires and questions they have. Then, having built up this picture, write your copy directly to that person. This will be compelling copy because it will speak directly to the customer’s needs. (And, of course, without stuffing, use enough keywords in your copy to make sure that the search engines find your site, and put it fairly near the top. Otherwise it’s a waste of time writing copy at all, as nobody will see it!)
Yes, internet copywriting is different. It is special. Potentially your copy can reach a far bigger audience than any other type of copywriting. So don’t underestimate its importance. However long it takes, it’s worth learning how to do it.

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