Kill the (misplaced) apostrophe!The Internet is rife with poorly written copy. There, I said it. A lot of this is due to the popularity of text messaging, and the informality of social networking sites. But there’s a time and a place for informality, and your homepage is not it.

I studied languages at university, so I do tend to get somewhat obsessive about spelling and grammar, as those who know me will attest! And sometimes (okay, a LOT of times!) I come across websites that make me want to tear my hair out/sit there muttering darkly/take out my metaphorical red pen and write “see me” at the end.

I’m not just talking about badly written SEO copy here, either, but just general website copy that’s full of spelling mistakes, misplaced apostrophes, random capital letters or just generally bad grammar.

Misplaced ApostrophesImage credit:

And guess what? It puts people off!

Why? Well, for one thing, spam, scam and phishing sites are often chock-full of misspellings and bad grammar, so people are automatically on their guard when they see these. In fact, consumer watchdog Which? actually lists bad spelling as one way to spot a scam website. That’s not really the kind of association you want, is it?

In fact, last year, the BBC reported that bad spelling could cost millions in online sales, according to Charles Duncombe, an Internet entrepreneur. So it’s important to get it right.

Content is king

My first ever blog post for Hallam (more than a year ago – how time flies!) was entitled Content is King, and looked at content from an SEO perspective. Whilst many people would no doubt disagree with this oft-quoted saying, and many things have changed since I wrote that post, much of what I wrote still applies. Your content, i.e. your copy, is what makes your site, and what convinces people to buy. If it’s confusing or poorly written, then they’re just going to leave instead.

SEO copywriting

The old days of stuffing pages with every permutation of your keywords under the sun and relying on this to get you to the top of the search results are long gone (thankfully!), but a surprising number of websites still make this mistake with copywriting for SEO. I have come across several that are seemingly well-optimised – in that they have the keywords in all the right places – but when the keywords are just shoved into the copy so that it verges on making no sense, I know I’m just going to leave, frustrated or confused. Or both.

Getting to the top of the search results is one thing, but if your visitors aren’t converting to paying customers, it’s all for naught. So make sure your copy is well written, persuasive, and benefit-led.

So what can you do if you think your copy’s not up to scratch?

If you don’t feel comfortable writing your own copy, hire a copywriter to write it. They’ll produce brilliantly written, benefit-led copy for you that’s designed to convert visitors to customers.

Or if you’d like to give it a go yourself but just feel you need a push in the right direction, Copyblogger’s blog is great, and full of useful articles and tutorials covering everything from misused words to writing for Social Media.

Do you agree with Mr Duncombe that bad copy can lose sales? Do poorly written sites bother you when you’re looking for something online? Let us know in the comments.

And just for fun:

The Alot is Better Than You at Everything

Did I Use the Wrong Your Again? (slightly NSFW!)

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One response to “How Your Website’s Copy Could Be Letting You Down”

  1. Mary hallet says:

    I thought you’d like to know that your 5 Fundamental Website Mistakes to Avoid has the following mistakes, including the misused apostrophe (sites’). Copied these below because I think you’re serious about grammar, etc., and would want to know!

    A lot of people pay us to to do commercial web reviews of their sites’, if you do we’re probably going to tell you one of these things…

    2. You’re not prominently displayed phone number at the top of the page.

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