The Copy Quotient

Here’s how you know whether or not to fire your copywriter, in five simple steps:

  1. Use rank checker to find out where you rank for a particular keyword on Google (for best results, you should be in the top ten.
  2. Find out how much monthly traffic that keyword gets, using Google’s keyword tool.
  3. Multiply that by the percentage of users who click on a search result of that ranking.
  4. Find out how many visitors you get from that keyword (if you’re not using Google Analytics for this, you’re probably doing it wrong).
  5. Now, divide #4 by #3. If the result is less than one, your headlines aren’t doing their job. Consider drastic action.

Conventional wisdom states that 80% of people will only read the headline of an ad. This is conventional wisdom because David Ogilvy said it, and Ogilvy said it because it was conventional wisdom. But Ogilvy had an eye for good ideas (and a nose for bad ones), so there’s a reason it stuck.

Running the numbers on the click-through percentage linked above, the first 90% of clickers click on one of the first ten links. About 40% of them read one headline, and click on it. 11% read two headlines, and so on. That first 90% reads about 2.7 headlines, on average. Extrapolating from that, the next 9% might read about 12.7 headlines. The next .9% read about 22.7 headlines. After that, it doesn’t really matter. That would mean that the average click is the result of someone reading about 3.8 organic listings. It neatens things up a bit to assume that the average searcher also sees 1.2 paid listings, for a total of five headlines per click, or exactly what Ogilvy said it was in the first place.

If your headline does 80% of the work, it might seem to be worth 80% of the effort. The problem here is that if your headline is great, and your body copy isn’t, you’ve wasted 80% of the value you provide by directing eager eyeballs to something that doesn’t do much with them. The correct answer is probably to grab another coffee and spend 80% of your time on each.

Regardless, finding the Copy Quotient of your work can be illuminating. One thing I found was that the same titles that search engines like—with one keyword, right in the beginning—are the ones people click on. I also discovered that if I had a nickel for every clever headline I wrote that was too clever for its own good, I’d have a dollar for every clever headline that wasn’t.

The Copy Quotient doesn’t tell you everything you need to know: if someone got you to the #1 spot for “credit cards,” but only gets 38% of the clicks instead of 41%, you can probably assume that things are okay. But the copy quotient is an easy way to measure whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth—and a simple way to see if your assumptions about good headlines are true.

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| September 1st, 2009 | Posted in SEO |

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