Let’s face it – nowadays, businesses (veterinary practices included) need an online presence to communicate effectively with their audiences. Even when you bring in some help to build the website, you’ll need some web copy to fill in the blanks!
This isn’t always easy, though – and maybe out of a lack of time or even just frustration caused by writer’s block, you made up a bunch of copy for your website and called it good enough.
This approach doesn’t always get you the results you want. So if this is the case, it may be time to look at your copy and see if any of these common mistakes could be the cause of your website woes!

The Language

Mistake #1: Focusing on yourself.

When you look up a company or its website, what are you looking for?
Chances are you’re looking to see if it can solve your specific problem – but if all the website does is talk about how awesome the company is, you’re going to be left wondering if it’s right for you.
This goes for your website, too. Instead of using your website copy to highlight how great your practice is, put the spotlight on your audience. What do they want? How can you help them? What might they be able to get from your practice that they might not from others?
This approach will help pet owners understand why they should visit you, which helps to bring them in to your clinic – and then you can show them how great you are in person!

Mistake #2: Not knowing your audience.

It’s not all that easy to put the spotlight on your audience if you don’t know who they are.
To figure out who your audience is, try asking yourself a few questions. Do you mostly get younger pet owners, who want to know about wellness for their new puppies and kittens? Do you see lots of emergencies? These can help you build a profile of who you should be targeting.
A common writer’s trick is to take this type of information and turn it into a persona, which is an embodiment of your audience as one (not actually real) person. Then, when you’re writing your copy, pretend you’re talking directly to this person. You might feel a bit silly at first, but it will help you in the long run – both with your website copy and with your blog writing!

Mistake #3: Not making it personal.

People tend to base their impressions of your practice on how your website sounds. After all, this is your practice’s online voice!
When you’re writing your website copy, do your best to make your copy sound friendly and welcoming. This will be much easier if you use a persona, because you’ll be able to imagine that you’re having a regular conversation.
Although you do need to keep your tone aligned with your brand (for example, it’s best to avoid a highly modern tone if you’re using a traditional website and logo), you can keep it from getting too stuffy with simple little tricks like using contractions.
There are also some things you’ll want to avoid in order to keep it sounding friendly, which leads us to our next point…

Mistake #4: Using abstruse elements of lexis.

Did you have to stop and think about that headline for a moment? They’re not words that most people would use in conversation.
The same thing happens when pet owners read dense medical terminology. You can’t assume that they’ll know what it all means, so it’s your job to ensure that it’s clear to everyone who might want to come to your practice without accidentally dumbing it down too far.
If you’re unsure, or want a second opinion, you could try having a few non-veterinary friends or even some of your regular clients read over your copy and tell you if they understand everything. This will give you an idea of whether fellow pet owners researching online would have an easy enough time with your website.

Mistake #5: Padding your copy.

One of the biggest mistakes in writing in general is to write for the word count. If you’re going to make the effort to write something for your website, be sure that you’re saying something meaningful.
Say what you mean. Hedging your bets can be a smart idea, but hedging your copy is not. Instead of dancing around the subject with passive phrases, be direct and say what you mean. This will help pet owners understand exactly what you are saying, and will help you avoid sounding wishy-washy.
Use the right language. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid excessive adjectives and adverbs in copy, but when you do use them, make them count. “Very” is a lazy word – instead of saying something is very important, for example, try saying it’s crucial.
There have also been studies that show that sensory words, like saying “rough day” instead of “bad day,” can help make content more compelling and memorable for readers by inspiring that part of their brains.
Don’t repeat yourself. Go over your copy after you’ve finished and look for any redundancies. If you find any, choose the one that makes a bigger impact and leave it in. Remove the rest, even if it means you need to rearrange the overall structure of your writing.

The Layout

Mistake #6: Ignoring your website’s layout.

Building a website is a combination of copy and design, so you have to make sure they match. For example, if your website design relies heavily on imagery and galleries, you won’t need to write a novel of text to complement it!
Your website’s pages should also be able to stand on their own. You might assume that people will read your home page first, and then navigate logically through the rest of your pages, but you can’t count on that happening.
Search engines tend to direct people to specific pages depending on their search terms, so make sure you know what each page is for, and that it will make sense to someone who goes directly to that page.

Mistake #7: Misusing calls to action.

Calls to action (CTAs) are those valuable little blurbs that inspire visitors to do something specific on your website. There are two ways to misuse them: either by not having any on your pages, or by having more than one per page.
Not having any CTAs causes problems because your readers won’t have anything to do after reading. You don’t need to have a big red button at the top telling readers to book now – but each page should have a place to direct readers, whether that’s to your booking form, a Contact Us page, or even your social media so they can see more of what you’re like.
Having more than one per page can cause issues by confusing the message you send to your readers. You may think that more is better (after all, it means they’re seeing more of your website, right?), but having too many places to go overwhelms your readers, which can turn them off from wanting to come in at all!

Mistake #8: Ignoring SEO.

Your website copy should definitely be written for people, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about search engines. Make sure your copy includes your carefully selected keywords to help search engines find your page – which will help pet owners find it, too!
There are two ways you can incorporate your keywords into your copy:

  • Go back after you’ve written everything to find logical places to put them.
  • Keep a list of your keywords in front of you while you write to help you find more organic-sounding places to put them.

Either way, your keyword placement should sound like the words belong there. Don’t force it!Writing effective web copy isn’t always easy, and it may take you a few tries – but don’t let that slow you down. It’s a great way to show off your personality on your website!

Need a new home for all of your web copy? Check out a WebDVM website!

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