It’s January, which means everyone’s looking at brushing up everything. Weight, philosophies, goals, whatever. As a business, one thing you should be looking to freshen up for the new year is your website’s content. The literal content, with words and stuff. Pics are important too, but this blog is about how you can audit your own copy like a professional.
This may seem obvious, but take the time to carefully read over what you already have. Typos aren’t limited to just misspellings – you also need to look at punctuation and sentence structure. I make a million and ten typos during my first draft, then I edit myself, then I edit my own edits. The longer the content, the more rounds of editing I do until I’m fully confident I didn’t miss a thing. Not. A. Single. Thing.
Then, reevaluate your goal.
Maybe you think your current content is meeting your objectives, but it never hurts to reevaluate. Is the purpose of your site to gain leads, educate or simply show off your work? Is your copy supporting that goal? Is your voice matching that objective? Sometimes one paragraph does and then the next doesn’t. Read carefully and zone in on any spots that don’t feel consistent, even if you can’t put your finger on the reason why quite yet. Just identifying helps the rest of the process.
And consider each word’s significance.
One principle rule in writing is if you can cut a word, cut it. No matter how small. Writing copy for the sake of filling space is worse than not having any copy at all. Make sure every sentence answers the question, explains the feature or provides any benefit at all. If it doesn’t, then out it goes. (Note: Keep in mind your voice. If it’s supporting the overall tone, then it’s not wasting space.)
Next, buzzkill the buzzwords.
Buzzwords are a massive waste of space and don’t tell the reader anything. I repeat, buzzwords are a waste. Some people think it’s “dumbing” down copy, but I strongly believe that if you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough to begin with. Translate those terms as if you were explaining to a friend who’s never heard of it. Because I have to research everything about everyone in every industry, I even like to write it out as though I’m translating and teaching it to myself (because that is what I’m doing).
Finally, proofread! Again! And again! And again!
The last step is to proofread your new content. Check for spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, flow, logic, significance – everything. Then look it over again. Then tap the shoulder of whoever’s next to you and have them look it over. Does it make sense to them? Do they get what you’re trying to say? If they don’t, then back to the drawing board. Because if your audience doesn’t understand, then you didn’t communicate well enough.
And there you have it.
Now, you may find yourself wondering “Could writing amazing content really be that simple?” And the answer is yes, yes it is – if you want to write amazing content. If you think it’s just a task that needs to be completed in order to please the Google gods, then no, it’s not that simple, and you should consider hiring someone who actually cares about their words. Your audience will greatly thank you for it.