How long should a sales page be?

“How long should a sales page be?” … That’s a very good question!

My answer: long enough to give your prospects all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.

Here's what you need to include on your sales page to make it a winner.

Here’s what you need to include on your sales page to make it a winner.

But that’s such a vague answer…

Well, yes and no.

It might seem vague to you, but I’m about to share with you what should go on your sales page, so here’s a bit of a checklist for you…

What should be included on a sales page?

If you’re wondering what to include on a sales page, you need to put yourself into your prospects’ shoes and consider their needs and concerns.

So you’d start off with:

1. An attention-grabbing headline: this must address the prospects’ primary problem or concern

If you’re not sure what the primary problem is that your prospects face, you need to ask them. Or your sales message risks falling flat.

Once you’ve got a really good headline:

2. Demonstrate that you understand your prospects’ primary problem

Show a bit of empathy… and dig a little bit deeper into the pain. The prospect then realises that you ‘get’ them… and that you may just have the answer they’re looking for.

3. Present your solution

This is where you talk about the features and benefits of your product or service.

4. Testimonials

Yes, testimonials really work. (Though there are interviewing techniques that will help you get a good, believable testimonial that’s more credible than the average sickly-sweet testimonial.) Photographs of the testimonial people add extra credibility to your message.

It’s a good idea to sprinkle a number of testimonials throughout the sales page. Testimonials should be carefully selected to cover key objections your prospects may have.

5. Bullet points

Cover every single benefit of your product or service with bullet points.

Yes, really – people can buy your product or service based on one single, tiny, feature.

What’s more, by listing all the benefits it shows that your product or service has depth. Readers will begin to imagine themselves benefitting from what’s there – and they can do that because your message is so specific.

Here’s an example to show why detailed bullet points work best:

This example is from my own sales page, for my eBook the ‘Website Owner’s Manual‘.

Imagine that you’re a small business owner, and you’ve got a website that isn’t converting.

Which of the following is more enticing sales copy:

(a) Tips on how to get your website converting better;

or:

(b)

bullet-point-benefits

… There’s a good chance that one of these specific bullet points will hit a nerve, and compel a prospect to buy.

A vague bullet point won’t do that.

What’s more, notice how I’ve added page numbers next to each bullet point. This does a number of things:

  • It creates the “I want that factor”. If you’re struggling with one of those topics, having the solution waved in front of you creates desire.
  • It creates credibility. My promises aren’t vauge; they’re real.
  • Once a customer has bought from you, they can access the information really quickly if they need to.

So yeah, detailed bullet points are your friend. 🙂

6. Screenshots and graphics

Adding graphics and screenshots of what’s inside your product is a good idea. (Not just the packaging shots, but nitty-gritty detail shots.)

Not only do graphics perk up your sales page (to balance out all the words), but it’s another way of boosting credibility, too.

7. Risk reversal and the buying process

It’s a good idea to outline what happens next in the buying process, so that the customer doesn’t hit any potholes they’re not expecting. (If they know what’s likely to happen during the checkout process, they’re less likely to abandon it.)

A guarantee of some sort is really powerful here too. If you’re an internet marketer, a money-back guarantee is the norm.

If you’re in the professional services industry, that may not be such a relevant guarantee, so you’ll need to come up with another risk reversal mechanism. This could be a Promise, or a Pledge, for example.

8. Bonuses

If you’re offering bonuses, explain why they’re fabulous and such must-have items!

9. Product offer

Yep, this is where you name your price.

You may want to remind readers of your Guarantee (or other risk-reversal mechanism) at this point.

10. Customer service information

Technology isn’t perfect, so someone’s bound to encounter problems buying online. So be sure to include key contact details (which is great for trust-building, and therefore conversions, too).

11. Personal sign-off

Add your signature and profile photograph at the end of the sales page… this personal touch provides credibility and helps with conversions.

(No-one likes buying from ‘anonymous’ websites… it’s like the business owner has something to hide, and will raise a red flag to many of your prospects.)

12. “PS” message

Repeat your main message as a “PS” at the bottom. It’s surprising how many people will skim-read (or scroll through) the bulk of the sales copy, but will read the PS. So make it good – and make it stand out.

Can any other copywriters verify this approach to long sales copy?

Yes… and I’ll refer to two copywriters and internet marketers whose work I respect.

First of all, Sean D’Souza at Psychotactics.com has tested long versus short sales copy over many years. He’s discovered that long sales copy (when it’s well written and constructed) can increase sales – and result in fewer refund requests.

I really respect Sean’s work, as he walks the walk when it comes to marketing. He is very open about what’s been successful for him. (And if you haven’t read his book The Brain Audit, you should, it provides a good insight into why customers buy – and why they don’t. Plus you’ll see his own sales page when you click on the link.)

What’s more, Sean’s copywriting approach his classy. Personally I’m not big on sales pages that use lots of highlighter pens and pop-ups and look like get-rich-quick schemes… ugh! So I’m happy learning from Sean’s approach (I’ve taken a number of his courses) because (a) his techniques work, and (b) it’s a classy, high-quality approach.

Secondly, copywriter Bob Bly is an interesting character to watch. He reportedly makes a massive income from selling eBooks online (as well as from his freelance copywriting), so he’s got some interesting techniques to observe. All of his sales pages are long… the structure may be a little bit different to what I’ve outlined above, but most of the elements are covered. Here’s a example of a Bob Bly sales page, for his product on Building A Large and Profitable Email List.

You’ll notice that Bob Bly has “Order Now” buttons scattered throughout the page, whereas Sean D’Souza has the “Buy Now” buttons at the very end… this is because Sean wants you to read his sales copy right to the very end. (Fewer refunds that way!)

In short: successful internet marketers and copywriters whom I respect use long sales pages, so that’s the approach I’d recommend.

But I hate long sales copy…

If you hate long sales copy, you need to remember that the sales page isn’t for you – it’s for your prospects.

Besides, doesn’t the idea of more sales and fewer refunds appeal to you? C’mon!

But I really REALLY hate long sales pages…

OK, if you really REALLY hate long sales pages there is one more approach. But I’m writing about it with a Disclaimer, because I haven’t tested for myself how successful this approach is or not.

Here’s what you do:

1. Create a really enticing (short) sales page

This includes two links: a Buy Now link, and a link to More Information.

This makes the page appealing to both Decisive Dan and Tentatitve Tom readers.

2. The More Information page gives all the product details

… So essentially, you still have to write long sales copy… it’s just that not everyone is forced to read it.

Here are the problems I foresee with this approach:

  • (a) You have two website pages to maintain instead of one.
  • (b) You have an additional metric to measure, i.e. how many people are clicking through to the second page.
  • (c) You’ll most likely have more refund requests, because some people haven’t bothered to find out what they’re buying.

It’s your choice, but I think it may just be easier to have one long page…! 😉

Summary

  • How long should a sales page be? Long enough to give your prospects the information they need to make an informed decision.
  • A good sales page should include the following:
    • 1. An attention-grabbing headline: this must address the prospects’ primary problem or concern
    • 2. Demonstrate that you understand your prospects’ primary problem
    • 3. Present your solution
    • 4. Testimonials
    • 5. Bullet points
    • 6. Screenshots and graphic
    • 7. Risk reversal and the buying process
    • 8. Bonuses
    • 9. Product offer
    • 10. Customer service information
    • 11. Personal sign-off
    • 12. “PS” message
  • Successful internet marketers and copywriters whom I respect use long sales pages because these pages increase sales and decrease refund requests.

 

Why I love the Yoast SEO plugin for SEO website copywriting

If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast SEO plugin can help boost your Google rankings. Here's how to use it...

If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast SEO plugin can help boost your Google rankings. Here’s how to use it…

One of the benefits of WordPress websites is that you can add so much functionality, by using plugins.

A WordPress plugin that’s on my “must have” list is the Yoast SEO plugin. (This article relates to version 1.4.x of the plugin.)

Now, I know that the Yoast SEO plugin does a heap of cool stuff, and the features I use are just the beginning. So there’s a lot more to it than this article covers. What I’m going to be talking about is specific to SEO website copywriting.

How to use the Yoast SEO plugin to help you with your SEO website copywriting

Using the Yoast SEO plugin for SEO website copywriting has two main stages:

  1. Inputting the focus keyword and meta data
  2. Analysing the content and making tweaks.

Let’s look at each of these in turn…

1. Input the focus keyword and meta data

First of all, you need a focus keyword (derived from your keyword research and keyword strategy). You need just one focus keyword for each web page or post.

As an example, let’s use screenshots from this actual blog post, where I’ve chosen “Yoast SEO plugin” as my focus keyword… That makes sense, yes? Seeing as this is an article primarily about the Yoast SEO plugin. (Oh, look at me dropping the keyword in yet again!)

(Note: “Yoast SEO plugin review” would probably be an even better keyword, but it’s kinda hard to write that naturally in the copy. The golden rule of website copywriting – even SEO website copywriting – is to write for human readers first of all. If something sounds stilted and awkward, don’t write it that way.)

You input your focus keyword in the “General” tab of the plugin window… which is on the same page of your WordPress admin as the page or post you’re writing, so all you need to do is scroll down.

The orange “1”, below, indicates where you put your focus keyword (and it even comes up with some suggestions… though personally I always ignore these!):

yoast-seo-plugin-1

As you can see, the plugin automatically generates a Meta Title and Meta Description (see the orange “2”), but you should re-write these… you can do oh so much better!

(a) The Meta Title (called the “SEO Title” in Yoast)

The Meta Title will show up in the search engine results, so you need to make this an enticing headline that grabs readers’ attention.

AND it needs to include your focus keyword… and you get extra Brownie Points if it’s at the very beginning.

AND you should stay within the 70 character word limit. (Something that’s a little too short is better than it being too long.)

AND every page on your website needs a unique Meta Title, or Google will penalise your site’s rankings.

You can see the Meta Title I’ve written for this article in the image below, next to the orange “3”:

yoast-seo-plugin-2

(b) The Meta Description

The Meta Description may show up in the search results… or else Google may just use a random bit of text from your web page. Assume that it will show up.

Also, apparently according to Google, it doesn’t matter if you use your focus keyword in the Meta Description or not… but let’s face it, it’s not going to hurt. So I’d always suggest using it (as does the Yoast SEO plugin).

So here you can write a short (156 character max.) blurb. Make it a bit of a teaser; make it enticing so that people want to click through.

Do make the description accurate and relevant to your web page, too. And every page on your website needs a unique Meta Description.

You can see the Meta Description I’ve written for this article in the image above, next to the orange “4”.

Stick to the character count!

What’s super handy about this plugin is that a character count is included… there’s nothing worse than having your copy cut short in the Google search results. (That looks very unprofessional.)

And the character count saves you so much time, rather than using the word count in Word, and copying and pasting and all those shenanigans.

2. Analyse the content and make tweaks

OK, now that you’ve loaded your content and entered the focus keyword, Meta Title and Meta Description you can see how your content stacks up.

As soon as you hit “Save Draft” you’ll see some information come up in the “General” tab of the Yoast SEO plugin (highlighted in yellow, below):

yoast-seo-plugin-6

… But it can do much, much more than that.

Click on the “Page Analysis” tab and you’ll see something like this:

yoast-seo-plugin-3

As you can see, it uses a traffic light system to show you what you’ve done well (indicated by a green circle); important things that need attention (indicated by a red circle); and not-so-important things to consider (indicated by an orange circle).

And if you look at the “Publish” pane, it gives an overall “traffic light” for the page:

yoast-seo-plugin-4

… as you can see, I get a nice, big fat green light for this page. Woohoo!

Important: A green light isn’t a guarantee of success, it’s simply an indicator that you’ve done your job well. After all, the actual Google rankings have so many other variables, like degree of competition for your chosen keywords; your site’s overall Page Rank; number of quality inbound links to your site; etc. etc. But by getting a green light, you’re well on your way.

I’d also suggest that you set up your All Posts and All Pages admin areas to resemble this:

yoast-seo-plugin-5

That way, you can see at a glance the traffic light ranking for each page; the focus keyword; and the Meta Data. Then you can quickly see which pages you’ve optimised well, and which pages need attention.

Do all pages and posts need a green light?

In my view, you shouldn’t worry about getting the green light for all your pages and posts… It just isn’t possible all the time.

Using the focus keyword should read naturally, and if you can’t possibly use the keyword naturally, then leave it be.

At the end of the day it is always better to write quality content for human readers than ticking all the SEO boxes.

What if you’re already using an SEO plugin, such as All In One SEO Pack?

At the time of writing this article (July 2013), the All In One SEO Pack plugin doesn’t come close to the Yoast SEO plugin.

One client paid his web developer to migrate the data from the All In One SEO Pack to the Yoast SEO plugin. Then I carried out an Analysis of all the web pages and blog posts, and made some small tweaks here and there to get that “green light” on as many pages as possible.

This resulted in increased website visibility for the client, and just a year after launching his brand new website (on a new URL), he is ranking naturally on Page 1 of Google for all of his chosen keywords. The Yoast SEO plugin definitely helped with that.

Other cool stuff that the Yoast SEO plugin can help you with

There’s a bunch of other stuff that the Yoast SEO plugin can do for your WordPress site, such as XML sitemaps, and a whole lot more… things that are far too technical for me, and that I get my web designer to look after. You’ll need to read the Yoast website to check out the rest of the features. 🙂

PS. A thank you…

A big thank you to my awesome web designer, Trisha Cupra at Blue Owl Web Design Makeovers for telling me about this plugin in the first place. This lady is the WordPress Queen, she seriously knows her stuff when it comes to effective websites.

 

Major Google algorithm update in May 2013

Have you noticed a change to your website’s Google rankings (and traffic) recently?

If you've noticed a change to your website rankings and visitor numbers in recent weeks, it could be due to a major update in Google's ranking algorithm.

If you’ve noticed a change to your website rankings and visitor numbers in recent weeks, it could be due to a major update in Google’s ranking algorithm.

If you’ve noticed a change in recent weeks, that could well be due to a major update in Google’s ranking algorithm.

The aim of the update on 22 May 2013 is to penalise low quality, spammy websites… and in turn, reward websites that are rich in unique, high quality content. This goes to show that investing in unique, high quality website content is the best SEO strategy!

(I’ve looked at the website statistics for some of my clients, and for the sites I’ve looked at there’s been a noticeable increase in visitor numbers since 22 May.) 🙂

More info about the Google update…

Matt Cutts is Head of the Webspam Team on Google, so he’s responsible for a lot of Google’s algorithm changes. He’s written a blog post about the changes (nicknamed ‘Penguin 2.0’) here, and it includes a link to a video with more information the update. It’s also interesting that Google now lets users report spam websites.

So how do you get unique, high quality website content?

There are a number of ways in which you can add useful content to your website. (And remember, the best content will be helpful to your human readers too.)

  • Resources: Add a resources section with hints and tips for your customers.
  • FAQs: You could have FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page(s) addressing the questions your customers and prospects ask you most often.
  • Blog: If you can commit to adding regular content, a blog (or news section) is the way to go. Do make sure you update it regularly though – an out-of-date blog is not a good look! And make sure that your blog is part of your existing website, rather than a stand-alone site. If your website is built using WordPress, that’s easy to do… otherwise, you may need to ask your website developer to set it up for you.

Like the idea of adding content – but don’t enjoy writing?

If you struggle with writing but would like more high quality content on your website, I can help you with your website copywriting.

 

AuthorRank: Google is now ranking you, not just your website

AuthorRank: Google is now ranking you, not just your website.

AuthorRank: Google is now ranking you, not just your website.

Yes, you read correctly… Google is now evaluating you (specifically, the content you write) – and not just your website.

After all, many website owners write content (or have content written for them) for not just one website, but they may have multiple websites. Or maybe you guest post on other blogs. For example, I own more than 4 websites that I write content for, and sometimes I submit articles to other sites as well.

With so much content being developed, Google needs to develop new ways to filter, sort and make sense of it all. So that’s what’s given rise to what’s been nicknamed “AuthorRank”.

What are the benefits of AuthorRank?

For people like me, who write lots of quality content, it’s exciting that Google will join up the dots, so to speak. It will help me grow my personal brand and should increase my exposure on Google. (More exposure and better rankings = more visibility = more click-throughs = more newsletter subscribers = more sales… in theory!)

Also, my photo will start appearing in Google search results. (This can take a while; it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. It most likely depends on where your sites are in Google’s crawling cycles, and how often you post.)

Here’s an example of how Google search results look with a photo added… notice how it stands out much more than non-photo results?

Notice how the search result with the photograph stands out more than the text-only results? This is one of the benefits of AuthorRank.

Notice how the search result with the photograph stands out more than the text-only results? This is one of the benefits of AuthorRank.

 

Having your photo alongside the search results gives you more visibility, and adds credibility. This should mean higher click-through rates to your website… i.e. more website traffic.

Notice too the “By Brian Clark” link. This links to the author’s Google+ profile and helps readers discover other online articles you’ve written. So it’s a good idea to post to your Google+ profile every so often, with status updates, links to content you like (yours and other people’s), and so on.

NB: To get those perks, (a) you need to be writing good quality, unique content, and (b) posting new content regularly.

Another benefit of AuthorRank helps with some duplicate content issues…

Google loves unique content, and will penalise websites that use duplicate content. (“Duplicate content” refers to both content across different websites, as well as content that’s duplicated across a single website… it’s kinda vague and complex at the same time.)

AuthorRank should help content writers with the “across different websites” content issue, because AuthorRank will identify you as the original creator of a piece of content. This should help to cut down on plagiarism; and also reduce the risk of copied or plagiarised copy ranking higher than the original article.

What about the website content Words By Cornelia writes for clients?

My clients own the copyright of materials I’ve written for them (unless there’s some special agreement), so effectively the client is the author.

I’d encourage all of my clients to take advantage of the benefits of AuthorRank, so they can start building up their own rankings.

How can you take advantage of AuthorRank?

In simple terms:

  1. You need to set up a Google+ profile, if you don’t already have one. Make sure you use a good, recognisable headshot of yourself as your profile picture.
  2. In the code of each web page, you need to include a link to your Google+ profile. This needs to be done in a very specific way (your website developer may need to do this for you).
  3. Go back to your Google+ profile and add the website address under “Contributor to”.
  4. Test that this has been set up correctly using Google’s Rich Snippet Tool.
  5. Do this for every website you write for or post on. So if you’re a contributor or guest blogger on other sites, ask the site administrator to ensure that the “rel=author” tag links to your Google+ profile. (And check that this is done.)

The specifics of how that works will depend on how your website has been built, so you’ll probably have to get your web developer to help with some of this. Generally speaking, once it’s set up, it’s good to go, and shouldn’t need much (if any) tweaking thereafter.

Instead, you can focus on writing lots more quality content!

Summary

  • Google is now ranking website authors (if you have a website, that’s you!)… as well as individual websites.
  • This helps website content writers grow their personal brand and increase their visibility on Google… provided they write unique, good quality content, and do so regularly.
  • Having your photo showing in Google search results draws attention to them. Not only does this draw extra attention to your posts, but the photograph adds credibility. It’s likely that you’ll see an increase in click-throughs once you have your photo showing (though it can take several months till your photo starts appearing).
  • The way that AuthorRank works is that you need a Google+ profile that’s linked to all your content. You may need your web developer to help set this up for you: once it’s done, it’s done.
  • It may be worth updating your Google+ profile with status updates and links from time-to-time.