Are Your Website Words Like Wilted Cabbages?

website words like wilted cabbages
30 Jun 2016

What do your website words and cabbages at a fruit shop have in common? More than you realise! Here’s how to get effective website words.

Imagine this. You decide to go and buy some fresh fruit and vegies for a dish you are preparing. There are two independent fruit shops next to each other (Look … I know this doesn’t happen in reality given the Coles/Woolworths domination of food – but this is your imagination so go with me here). 

You walk into the first store and the carrots are so soft you can tie them into pretzels. All the fruit on display has a misspelled “Product of the Philippines” label on them. The celery has turned into a puddle of green goo and the cabbages smell more like a dog that hasn’t been bathed in 6 months and that has rolled in something unmentionable. 

Mm mm. Makes your mouth water doesn’t it!

Then you walk into the second store (after stopping for an e.coli inoculation and a bath in disinfectant). In this store, the Australian grown fruit is positively bursting with just picked goodness.

The apples are shiny, deep red in hue and smell divine. You just know that the first tangy bite will release an explosion of taste. The lettuce is firm and crisp – glistening with the mist of water that has just been sprayed over it, and the grapes are reclining, plump and enticing in a vigorous pile of joy. So – where are you going to buy your fruit and vegies?

Seems like a no-brainer. You buy the produce that is fresh, not imported, has been well looked after and that seems bursting with goodness.

The Cabbage: Copywriting Correlation

A kangaroo with cabbagesWhat does cabbage have in common with the words you use in your marketing? The words you use impact not only on sales, but also where Google tends to show your website (or not) to your potential clients. Here’s how to determine if your content passes the cabbage test.

Are your words high quality? How fresh are the words you are using in your copy? Has your marketing been lovingly tended and looked after? Has it been refreshed? Or is your copy way past its use by date?

Content Quality

Quality is harder to gauge when we talking about website content than when assessing the relative merits of two zucchinis.

Higher quality web content delivers better rankings for your site. Higher search engine results mean more people see your content. The more people who see your content, the more likelihood they will buy.

What Makes for Quality Web Content?

Google’s view of good content is web content that is useful, trustworthy and answers the questions people have when they visit your site.

While there are a myriad of factors that make up SEO, here are some of the factors that Google uses when assessing your content quality.


Does your content add real and meaningful value to readers? Is the information unique and informative? Do your website words have depth or are they lightweight or shallow?


Are the pages well-written or are they written in mangled English attempting to manipulate search engines? Are they written by someone who knows your industry using industry correct language, or are they filled with factual errors.

Game Free

Any attempt to game or manipulate the system with your web content will end in tears in the same way cutting onions does. You can’t game the system by having 100 readable words above the fold and 300 basically unreadable keyword stuffed words below the fold on your website, (or words in white ink on a white background).

Google reads everything you write even if your customers have long given up and gone away. If you have hired an SEO company that is still attempting these games, grab a pile of $100 notes and set fire to them. That’s what you are doing to your business.

Correct Spelling

Is your writing filled with spelling and grammar mistakes, or spelling that doesn’t match the country you are targeting (US vs AU English). One or two mistakes is considered human. Mistake after mistake and you are heading into dangerous territory. Use Grammarly and make spelling mistakes a thing of the past.

kangaroo readingIt Answers What People Are Looking For

More and more people search for specific answers to questions in Google, rather than typing in single words. Do you answer people’s questions, or do they click away in confusion or simply can’t find what they are searching for?

Uses the Client’s Words

Do the words that you use match the words that people type into Google to find you? For example, the electrical trade uses the term Electrical Contractor as the legally correct term for people who can install or repair wiring etc. The general public still types in the term electrician.


Are your website words easy to understand? Do they flow logically from one paragraph to another? Do you break up the text with sub-headlines and relevant imagery? More complex language or solid blocks of text increase the complexity of your text.

Remember, a confused mind says no (and will click away). By increasing the readability, you increase the time people spend on your page and increase sales.


Stale limp material that hasn’t been looked at for years gets relegated to the virtual dumpster bin out the back of the store (page 4000 on Google). Fresh material gets brought to the front of the pack. If you want better results – keep your content fresh (particularly if your competitors always keep their content fresh and updated).

Blogs are a great way to add fresh content, but they must be relevant to your brand and to your industry. When in doubt go back to rule one. Your website content must always add value and not simply be filler to shove more keywords in.

That said, there is little point to having beautiful website words on your blog if the rest of your website is filled with spammy, poor quality material. It is like having a fruit shop where 90% of your produce is mouldy and having one great punnet of strawberries. Will that punnet of strawberries make people buy any of your produce? Unlikely. You have to get your foundations right first and then build on those foundations.

What do customers look for in quality website words?

Unsurprisingly, customers look for similar things to Google when looking at your web content. They come to your website because they have a question they want answered or a product they want to buy. They want to know that you are a reputable business they can trust.

If you match what Google sees as great content, you are well on the way to meeting what your customers want.

Read more about effective writing for web.

Copywriting tips to improve your content

How do you keep your content fresh and high quality? Take a leaf out of the books of good fruit shops.

koala holding a cabbageRegularly check for stale produce

A good fruit shop will check its stock daily to look for produce that is wilted, damaged or not looking its best. The net has slightly longer “Best By” dates. Check your static content (the pages that don’t change much) each month. If something is out of date or not quite right – edit it or freshen it up.

Once a year look to edit all of your static pages and replace/edit a minimum of 25% of the content. (25% is not a hard and fast rule – it is just to get you into the mindset of chainsaw not pruning shears).

Add new stock

Regularly add new content to your site. This can be through blog posts, articles, videos, photos, or social media interaction. The trick is to always add interesting new things to tempt fussy readers.

Check your presentation

Fruit and words both look better when well presented. Check how you are displaying your words and tidy up their presentation, or change the container for your words (e.g. with a new site design or new graphics).

Update your suppliers

Sometimes the words you choose are as dated and palatable as Chokos or Brussels Sprouts. (Put your hand up if you willingly eat them without drowning them in something else first).

You may need someone to help you freshen up the words you use by creating something a bit more appealing and enjoyable by a wider audience.

If you want a hand freshening up your content or in creating an ongoing cornucopia of fresh material for your site, lettuce squash your competition with our website copywriting packages to get you started. Not a wilted cabbage in sight!

About the Author

Ingrid Moyle

Ingrid Moyle (BA - Psych/Industrial Relations) is the Chief Web Wizard at Heart Harmony Communications. A self-confessed multipotentialite, Ingrid shamelessly blends her passions of human resources, psychology, web design and copywriting. When not hardwired to her computer, she quests for the perfect coffee while chasing virtual reality creatures across the backstreets of Brisbane.
Bowler hat with lightbulb.

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