Getting words on your website, efficiently

A lot of companies are allocating a serious part of their marketing budget to bulking up the content of their website product pages. If you’re not doing this, I’d bet that some of your competitors are doing so. And with good reason. A well-written, sales oriented product page works better in many ways: it sells directly, it gets favoured by Google, and it makes your company seem like it knows what it’s doing.

But if you have, say, 100 or more product pages, how can you tackle such a major project? If you’re putting, say, 250 words on every product page, that’s 25,000 words – halfway towards being the equivalent of a novel. Few companies have the time or resource to do this in-house, although I do know one marketing manager who says he’s rewriting his product pages personally, one every day, and hopes to get the project finished towards the middle of next year. He usually does it as his first half-hour task of the day, and good luck to him.

If you employ a PR consultant, or have a tame freelance technical writer, they ought to have enough technical and product knowledge to do the job. The only issue will be the cost. If you don’t, we’ve now set up a service to do exactly this sort of contract writing, which might be an option. It doesn’t take the place of a PR resource; it’s aimed specifically at getting words on your website.

But whoever does the job, the most efficient way to get it done is to set up a template, from the start, of the questions which need to be answered about each product. The obvious place to begin is for the writer to ask “what’s in it for the customer?” and to move on from there. Don’t just rewrite the technical details from the data sheet into prose, which is what poor or lazy writers do.

Other questions which need to be answered on the product page, if appropriate, include “where on the site can I read a case study about this product?”, “where on the site can I read the background to this technology?” and even “where on this website can I find out about this supplier’s experience?”. The writer also needs to come up with a headline which is better than just a label, as well as a web page title and description meta tag. And a consistent voice is essential: I like an active, present tense approach.

Without a clear set of guidelines about what a product page needs, the extensive project of (re-)writing them across your website could be an unproductive experience. With a clear set, you could be making a very cost-effective marketing investment.

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