Writing for Humans

Posted By on Apr 6, 2010 | 0 comments

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It’s important to remember that search engine optimization, while very important, is designed to generate traffic. Traffic does not buy your product or service … humans do. They’ll only do that when the copy that they read on the Web page converts them from traffic into customer. Not just any copy will do that (he stated correctly, if self-servingly).

Let’s take the example of the two financial services companies Primerica and ING. If you google “financial services,” both of these companies appear on the first search engine return page (SERP). This is good for both companies. Someone is doing great SEO for both, in the meta tags and in the copy on the page.

Premerica has an advantage, however, when it comes to words on the page.

Finances rank among the most confusing and anxiety-producing subjects to most middle income people. Everyone is frightened and unsure about what to do with debt, savings, and investments.

Premerica assures people right away with a great tagline, prominently displayed: Freedom lives here. The rest of the home page is clean and uncluttered, with links to short articles with titles like Our Market, Our Edge and Change Your Life. These titles speak directly to the desires of someone Googling “financial services” and indicate that the benefits Premerica offers will satisfy those desires.

ING has a rotating series of slow-loading images in the header that don’t do a clear job of directly speak to an anxious Googler. The only paragraph of copy on the home page begins with two of the most unnecessary words anyone can put on a home page: “Welcome to.”

The paragraph then explains the features that ING offers instead of convincingly explaining the benefits of doing business with ING.

Premerica’s Web site tells me that a benefit of doing business with them is that I’ll get educated about finances. ING seems to just offer a smörgåsbord of services that I have to choose from.

I don’t know which of these companies better serves their clients, as I don’t do business with either one. But in terms of convincing copy on the page, Premerica immediately strikes a more reassuring tone and speaks in terms of benefits instead of features.

When was the last time you felt something immediately upon visiting a Web site or viewing a print ad? Do you remember what words were used? How does your own Web site do with quickly presenting benefits to the traffic that arrives at your site?

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