28 Oct Cut the waffle – keep to the point with professional copyediting
The expression ‘on point’ defines perfection and relevance – and in terms of content and professional copyediting keeping on point is just as much a reflection of excellence.
Potential customers are looking at your website for a reason, which is to find information as quickly as possible.
While they may also be interested in your history and ethos, they are mainly looking for direct facts and answers:
- What do you offer?
- How does it work?
- How can your product or service help them?
- How do they get in touch?
- How effective/ trusted is your product?
- How much does it cost?
- How long will it take?
Great content will get this across smoothly and concisely, balancing the need to read well and be engaging with the need to get key product details over.
Just like when you watch an overly long film, stuffed with filler, online content too is better served by sticking to the basics and cutting out the waffle.
How can professional copyediting improve my website?
If a potential client clicks onto your website and is met by a rambling wall of content with no headings, graphics and subsections to break it up it, rather than help to inform it might just turn them away.
This is harmful on more than one level as it could hit your bounce rate, with visitors making a snap judgment that it’s not for them and shutting down within 20 seconds, which will serve to negatively impact your search engine ranking.
The cost of this to your business is easy to see, as you face a double whammy of losing online visibility and missing out on a potential client. So, what can you do about it?
Professional copyediting services can review, update and rewrite your website content. This includes recommendations on style, the substance of your content and what is missing and could be improved, including structure, grammar and spelling.
Very often this actually means cutting back content to highlight information and details that are important to the customer. Knowing when to cut out unnecessary waffle, yet retain character is a key part of a professional copyeditor’s role.
After all a bunch of keywords thrown at a page can be as big a turn off as a rambling block of text.
Professional copyediting: How to stay on point
Read through your copy yourself and be brutally honest with yourself about whether it really gets to the heart of what you want to say about your product.
Imagine you were having a quick conversation with a friend and summing up what your business does. That will give you a great starting point. It is a commonly quoted statistic that you have 15 seconds to grab someone’s attention, so pay close attention to your opening paragraph.
Don’t start chronologically, bring in the end result at the start – that is what you are offering. By avoiding telling the story from the start you won’t fall into the trap of thinking you are missing things you never needed to include anyway.
Depending on what your product is customers may want to know about you but stick to the points that are relevant. Your website is after all a way for them to engage with you, not the other way round.
Cut out storytelling and share the facts instead – it is fine to weave part of your business’ story into your website content but do potential customers need to know every single bump and dip?
While considering how you would talk about your business is a good place to start beware of being overly conversational. Phrases such as ‘to cut a long story short’, ‘fast forward to 2020’, ‘anyway, as I was saying’ do anything but get to the facts quickly. The same goes for ‘erm….’, ‘hmmm….’, and ‘whatever’ – these may work in certain niche tones but as a general rule avoid them.
Once you have cut back your words to focus in on the facts, scan through for excessive use of ‘that’, ‘and’, ‘when’ and ‘because’. Short, snappy sentences are an excellent way to stay on point and engage your audience.
Five tips for copyediting your content.
- Avoid telling a story chronologically;
- Capture your audience’s attention with the key facts in your initial sentence;
- Use short, snappy sentences and avoid excessive use of conjunctions, such as ‘that’, ‘and’ and ‘because’;
- Say key sentences out loud to get an idea of whether they are overly long;
- Break up sentences with bullet points, sub-headings and punctuation;
- When talking about yourself or the history of your business cut copy back to the relevant facts.
Reading your own content back objectively can be difficult, but a professional copyeditor will quickly be able to transform long and confusing website copy and recommend further changes if needed.