Glossary of Website Copywriting Terms

Anchor text - see Link anchor text

Authority site - a measure of the quality (in the opinion of the particular search engine) of a given site, gauged by their own combination of size, importance and relevance. A link from an authority site to your own is more valuable because of its importance to the search engines.

Benefits - what your product or service actually does for your customer. Benefits are the crucial “what’s-in-it-for-them” that must form the core of your marketing message.

Body - the text of a given piece of copy, as opposed to such as headlines, captions, subheads, etc.

Call to action - the written equivalent of the sales close, the call to action incites the prospect to take a specific action in exchange for a specific offer. While it’s one of the most important elements of a marketing piece, it’s also frequently neglected and/or insufficiently considered.

Click-Through - clicking on a link, usually an advertisement, to visit a web vendor.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR) - the number of times a link is clicked on divided by the number of “impressions”.

Configurator – any website tool designed to help a visitor make an order by choosing different options and then assembling them into a final order form, or a website tool that helps a website visitor visualize a personalized product by allowing them to choose different options such as colors, materials and textures and then creating an image of the final product so they can see the actual product. Great for creating a bond between the customer and the final product and seducing them to order. Here is a nice example of a configurator. Just click on the Get Started button.

Content–online – this is information on a website designed to lure people to the website by providing free information. It also can lure backlinks from other websites and blogs. It also helps to establish you as an “authority” in your subject matter which always helps in the sales process.

It can also help create community on your site by providing answers and information to your regular visitors. It can keep people coming back for more knowledge. Also, content helps greatly with Search Engine Optimization. Do not confuse content with copy.

Copy-offline – any non-interactive marketing writing. All the writing found in ads, direct mail, brochures and other offline marketing materials.

Copy-online – this is the marketing writing you find on websites and blogs. The advantage of online copy is that you can use hyperlinks to create an interactive environment. This allows you to keep the visitor on your website, answer their questions, and guide them to the final buying process. (see Web Copy Writing)

Copywriting - the art/science/craft of writing copy. Not to be confused with “copyrighting,” which concerns the legal rights and obligations of intellectual property.

Cosmetic violator - a graphic element, such as a starburst or button, that deliberately “violates” the design harmony of a piece in order to draw attention to its message, i.e., “Sale ends March 31!” or “Free overnight delivery!”

Deliverable - the physical product of a marketing/advertising campaign or project, such as an ad, a press release, a TV commercial or a Web site.

Direct marketing or direct response marketing - marketing that aims for an immediate action, response or sale (as opposed to “awareness”) from its intended audience, who are often directly targeted through personalized communications (such as mail or e-mail). David Ogilvy considered direct his “secret weapon,” though most mainstream agencies still regard direct as a bastard step-child of “real” brand advertising -- you know, the kind that wins awards, regardless of its actual effectiveness.

Doorway Page - a page optimized for a particular search engine and/or search term, followed by a redirect to the real page. Multiple doorway pages are often used to help ensure that the same basic content is ranked well on several different search engines. Another “black hat” trick that will get you banned by the search engines. (Also called a gateway page)

Features - qualities your product or service has, such as power-steering or a silk lining.

FPO - For Position Only. In mock-ups or comps, the initials “FPO” are used to mark graphic elements, such as photos, that are merely placeholders, not approved components of the ultimate design.

“greek” - The textual equivalent of FPO graphics, “greek” copy is gibberish that simply illustrates where and how the copy will flow. It looks like this -- Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod, etc. -- which is actually Latin. Don’t ask…

Headline - just as in journalism, an element of copy above the body that trumpets the important content to come. In any piece, it’s almost always the most frequently read copy. That’s why the headline is so important -- get it right and you've cleared the most difficult hurdle, capturing the prospect's attention.

Johnson box - the headline in a direct mail letter, often set within a rectangular “box.” It’s the part of the letter that’s most likely to be read.

Keyword (Key Phrase) - a word (or phrase) typed into a search, producing web pages that contain that word or phrase.

Keywords Meta Tag - an HTML tag that lists all of the main keywords and key phrases that are contained on that web page. Some search engines pay attention to this tag, some do not.
<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="surround sound stereo">

Kicker - again, from journalism, a line of copy just above the headline that’s used to create context or “kick” interest for the story. Example:
Kicker: Experts predict 10.5% income tax increases next year
Headline: Gonyph Associates will save millions of dollars for thousands of taxpayers. Will you be one of them?  

Knock-out type - not killer copy, unfortunately. It’s copy set in “reverse” (white on a black background) or in a contrasting color on an illustration or photograph. Testing proves that knock-out type almost always reduces readership (as opposed to simple black-on-white). Use only under certain circumstances.

Lift note - in a mail package, an additional message, often from the president or a satisfied customer, perhaps a company officer or someone with a good deal of credibility that complements the main message in the letter and brochure. The tone is usually casual with an eye toward a more personal appeal. Often the note looks handwritten.

Link Anchor Text - the visible (perhaps underlined) text of a link.

Offer - what you promise in exchange for a response from the prospect. It had better be compelling: The offer is second only to the list (the people to whom you’re directing your message) in its impact on response rates.

Positioning - the unique place a brand or business occupies in the market or in the mind of its prospects and customers. The simplest way to articulate a position is to think of your brand as the [blank] kind of product/service for [blank] kind of people.

Postscript or P.S. - an additional message after the formal closing of a letter. The P.S. is second only to the Johnson box in readership and usually restates the offer and/or a key benefit, often with an additional appeal to urgency.

Proof point - A piece of evidence, such as a statistic, endorsement or physical description, that substantiates your marketing pitch. You can never have too much proof. Yet too many messages go out with too little.

Search Engine Optimization - Creating a pretty site is not enough to attract visitors to a website. Search Engine Optimization is a must to ensure that a website ranks well on Search Engines and attracts the most targeted visitors. To optimize the website for Search Engines, it is important to make relevant changes to each of the page elements. A few valuable changes and use of a few optimization techniques can make sure that the website appears among the top results of a search result.

SEO Web Content - Search Engine Optimized content is factual and informative and at the same time is optimized to achieve good rankings on search engines. This is done by including keyword phrases that flow through the content. Proper placement of keywords can make sure that the site appears high on search results and attracts visitors to the web site.

SEO Web Copy - SEO Copywriting is both Search Engine Friendly and Customer friendly. It takes care of both Search Engines as well as visitors of a site. Good SEO copywriting doesn’t just bring visitors to a website. It also makes sure that once there, your visitors get exactly what they are looking for. It pushes them to take the desired action QUICKLY.

By using the right keyword phrases and placing them strategically in the copy, SEO copy can ensure good rankings for any website. And good copywriting makes sure that visitors to a web site are persuaded and convinced to take the desired action.
Therefore, good SEO copy has the right mix of keyword phrases which flow well throughout the copy while ensuring that the copy talks to the customers and pushes them to take action.

Sidebar - in an article or in a more substantial marketing piece, such as a long brochure, it’s a vertical stretch of copy set apart of the main body of text, usually with its own headline and often with a special graphic treatment. The sidebar is often used to present testimonials, brief case studies, or subordinate features and benefits.

Subheads - miniature headlines, in smaller type than the main headline, used to break up the monotony of long strings of text AND to communicate the major points of your story at a glance.

Tag line - a brief, static phrase intended to accompany the brand name/logo on a variety of marketing materials, such as FedEx’s famous, though no longer used,  “Absolutely, positively overnight.” A good tag line encapsulates the brand’s distinct quality or the company’s unique selling proposition (or both).

Teaser - in direct mail, the brief bit of copy on the outer envelope. It has just one important job: To get the recipient to open the envelope. If the teaser fails, everything else is moot.

USP - Unique Selling Proposition. A promise a company can fulfill that distinguishes it from its competitors.

Web Content Writing - is all about writing informative and factual content. Web content is simple, straight forward and generally written to inform, educate and teach. Such copy is not forceful or driven by any major purpose except that it aims to provide facts and information to those reading it.

Web Copy Writing - Web Copy Writing includes writing such copy that first talks to the customers, makes them interested and then in the process pushes them to take the desired action. Web Copy is direct, persuasive and pushy. It convinces, coaxes and entices the reader to move from the thinking stage to the decision making stage.

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