You’ve built a website, and you’ve written your web copy. You’re blogging, because that’s what everyone told you that you needed to do. Maybe it’s been months, or years, and your website isn’t really doing much to boost your sales.

Sometimes it just takes patience for your message to resonate, and to build a little traction with the web copy you are creating. And sometimes you may be in need of a repair, or at least a quick tune up.

How do you know the difference?

Here are a few signs your web copy stinks, and you might not even know it.

Your headline falls flat – Let’s say you just spent hours crafting the perfect blog post, or the perfect web page content. Those 5-10 words you toss up at the top are just an easy afterthought, right? Wrong. Your headline is the single biggest factor on whether someone is going to read your post. If it seems flat or boring, people can always move on to the next search result. On social media you’ll want to pay close attention to the headline and the text you use to introduce your piece.

Your message doesn’t resonate – If you blog or write your web content like it is a commercial or ad, you’re probably not going to identify with your customer. No sane consumer sits down at the computer with the idea of being sold to for eight hours. The Internet is not the medium for interruption marketing. They have a problem, and are looking for ways to solve it. The higher up in your content you can show you identify with your customers’ problems, the better off you’ll be for it.

Your readers don’t know what you want them to do – Is the purpose for the specific content a sale? Is it for them to enter their email and download your eBook? Is it to seek their input on an issue and leave a comment below? They may not know what you want them to do unless you tell them. A strong call to action provides clarity to your readers. It gives them an action to take after completing your web copy. Make sure you are clear on this. Additionally, make it easy for your readers to complete their desired action. Your contact information should be visible on every page.

Mistakes are killing you – Grammar or spelling errors may not matter much to you, and the occasional one might just slip by. But if they become a consistent theme throughout your copy, it can have an adverse impact without you knowing it. These kinds of mistakes erode customer trust. Writing and strong communication is one of those skills necessary in business. If it’s not your strong suit, that’s ok (that’s why I have an accountant). These mistakes can eventually cost you sales, however. It may be time to hire a web content writer or copy editor to guide you through the web copy creation process.

Your copy is boring – As I said before, you need to address your customers’ problems. You also need to write in a style that will keep your reader moving along through your copy. The art of storytelling is crucial. Statistics and data are excellent for making a point, but easily forgotten. Stories are remembered. So read compelling stories, and learn what it takes to write them.

How to know…

It’s time to be honest with yourself. Tell the truth. Have you noticed any of the above creep into your writing? Do you dread writing your website content or blog like you would dread going to the dentist for a root canal? It’s hard to overcome that drudgery to create something that differentiates your business, and others will love.

It might be time to consider outsourcing. Your website should be working for you. It should be a consistent lead generator, and it should maintain a high level of visibility for your business.

There’s one other aspect to this, as well. Your website should be generating quality traffic. In these days of questionable traffic-generating techniques, it’s easy to obsess over the wrong metric. It’s not the amount of traffic you generate. The ability to convert that traffic into a sale is what turns a website into an effective business tool – and that is the job of effective web copy.

If your web copy is not working for you, it might be a sign that your web copy needs a little bit of help.

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-based marketing writer and copy editor.

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