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Discover THE Most Important Element of Your Website

By Karon Thackston
Posted Monday, September 27, 2004

There are so many ingredients that go into making a successful web site. Layout, design, colors, graphics, photos, links and copy (text) are all included in the mix. Do you know which of these is the most important element? Believe it or not, copy!

That's right. Copy is where your attention should fall first when designing a site. There are several reasons why this component requires special consideration. Let's look at three areas copy impacts and discover the true bearing it has on your site and your visitors.

First and foremost, the copy on your web site must get your message across to the visitor. Its function is to provide information and/or sell a product or service, depending on the purpose of your site. Photos can show products, but they can't make the sale by themselves. Stop and think for a moment. Have you ever purchased anything based solely on a photo? The majority of customers will require details about a product or service before buying. Copy is the bridge between indecision and purchase.

The headlines on your web site draw more attention than the graphics or photos. Stanford University, in conjunction with The Poynter Institute, recently completed a four-year study that proved the importance of text over graphics on web sites. (See ( According to this research 'readers of print newspapers looked first at the lead art element on a newspaper page and then moved their eyes to the biggest headline.' However, the study continues with, 'web site readers tend to look first and most intently at plain text, passing lightly over photos and images'. Contrary to popular belief, the copy on your site gets attention from the visitor before the other elements.

Robin Nobles, of the Academy of Web Specialists (, recently wrote an article discussing doorway pages. In it Robin made the following comment, 'Since every page is essentially a doorway into your site anyway, concentrate on building content. Now you're giving the engines just what they want to see these days: content'.

Unfortunately, many web designers and do-it-yourselfers are not aware of the importance of copy in the overall workings of search engines. Without solid content it is almost impossible to get positioned well by search engines. The copy on the site must be a delicate balance of repeated keywords and promotional information in order to make sense to the reader and meet engine criteria. The more times your keywords are presented within the copy, the greater your chance to receive a position in the coveted Top 20. However, overload your copy with keywords and key phrases and you'll find yourself labeled as a spammer and be banned from the engine - permanently!

There are also other factors involved with copy and engine position. The site title and site description must be just as delicately created as the body copy in order to obtain high rankings.

Considering these three facts brings a whole new light to the importance of excellent, well created web site copy. Before you decide on colors or graphics or photos or design, stop and give due thought to the copy first. It will pay off in the long run!

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