Copywriting for websites.
Ten tips to help your site succeed.
In the excitement of creating a new website, it’s easy to overlook one of the most critical elements; the written content. I find it both fascinating and frustrating how often I talk to businesses planning a new site or are even halfway through creating one yet don’t know what they actually want to say.
So much time is spent on the design that actual content somehow gets left behind. Of course, you want the site to look visually stunning to hook people in, but you need content that captures them emotionally and intellectually when they are there.
A stunning website won’t work without good words.
There is also a difference between knowing what you want to say and how you say it. Getting the tone of voice right is crucial if visitors are to stick around once they’ve found you.
For these reasons, many businesses fall over at the first hurdle, and they struggle to produce compelling content for their visually stunning site. In fact, amongst the most significant hurdles preventing new sites from going live is that businesses fail to deliver the written content.
It may be that no one in the organisation is happy to write it; they don’t have the time, confidence or writing skills.
With that in mind, here are our Top 10 Tips to help your site succeed:
1. Plan your site
As in all projects, planning is the most important thing you can do. Planning the structure of your content will help the website designer to create the perfect framework.
It would be best to outline what you want to say on your Home, About, and Services pages before you even start on the design. It makes your job and the designer’s job much more manageable.
Then you need to have a clear objective for each page. For example, is your homepage there to sell a product, introduce your brand, prove your expertise or act as a guide to the rest of the site?
If you know the objective of every page, it becomes so much easier to write.
2. Make it clear what you do
How often have you landed on a website and come away with no real idea what the company does?
One of the reasons sites don’t work is that they are not clear about what the business offers; they are bogged down in technical jargon and fail to clarify how they can help you as a potential customer.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it, all the same, make sure you are explicit about the product or service that you are selling. Unfortunately, too many sites miss this fundamental!
3. Optimise for SEO
Written content is your most important method for optimising the site for search engines. Of course, you can do a lot in the background with meta descriptors, schema mark-up code, load speeds, etc, however, the number one most important factor for helping your site up the page rankings is Great Content.
Great content is written in natural language and helps to prove your Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
You may have heard that your content needs to be full of keywords, don’t make that mistake. Most people don’t realise that the Google algorithm changes regularly and that for a long time now, Keywords have been far less important than quality, useful, relevant content.
4. Answer the questions people are asking
If the content on your site is helping to answer genuine questions people are asking while searching, you’ll do well in Google rankings. Therefore, if you know what potential customers search for, you can use the results to shape your content.
How do you know what people are searching for? You can use a site such as answerthepublic.com or use Google’s semantic search. Semantic queries can be found by browsing the “related searches” results at the bottom of the results page.
5. Focus on benefits
If you’ve ever had sales training, at some stage, you’ll have been told that how you do something isn’t important, but what it does for your customer is. In other words, concentrate on selling the benefits, not the features.
This principle applies more than ever to your website content. So, for example, if you’re a dentist, you don’t need to tell me about the anaesthetics, tools and x-ray machine you use; you need to tell me you’re going to help me achieve a beautiful smile.
Remember, visitors to your site probably don’t care that much about you and your business – they care about themselves and how you can help them.
A key takeaway is to put yourself in the potential customer’s shoes; does your copy:
- Explain what’s in it for them?
- Make it clear how they will benefit?
- Use language that is more about them/you than we/us?
6. Write in natural language
There are two good reasons for writing clear and simple content in easy-to-understand language:
Your customers will appreciate it, and they’ll stay on the site longer and discover more about how you can benefit them if you make it easy to understand. So unless your site is specifically technical and aimed at fellow experts, it should be written without jargon or complicated explanations.
Google likes it – Google has a machine learning tool called a Natural Language API; it analyses text on websites searching for comprehensible language. In simple terms, the more understandable you make your content, the better it will perform in Google search.
7. Keep it concise
There is no point in writing thousands of words. People read differently online; they scan as much as they read. People generally do not read long-form content on web pages (unless it’s a blog, white paper or specific technical content).
Your customers will thank you for being clear and concise, delivering significant pockets of information they can relate to. The last thing you want is customers having to hunt the site for your value proposition – they won’t!
8. Don’t undervalue the About page
The second most visited page on any site is the About page. Even if you call it something else, such as Who We Are, it will be the page many people click to immediately after hitting the landing page.
The About page is a chance for customers to get to know the personality of your business. However, it needs to follow the rules too. It needs to be concise, written in natural language and offer some benefits.
I always find it helpful to do the “So What?” test.
For example, you could say,
“We are financial advisors with over 50 years of experience.”
Well, so what? What does that mean to me as a customer? Wouldn’t it be better to say:
“You’ll benefit from 50 years of practical experience gained by helping thousands of clients successfully plan their financial futures.”
9. Make explicit the action you want people to take
On every page, you should have a Call to Action.
If you’ve planned effectively and have an objective for each page, you’ll want your customers to take action. More often than not, the action is to get in touch with you.
Make it clear and obvious what you want them to do. Invite them to call or click through to the Contact page. Make your phone number and contact details easy to find; use a button to help them.
You can use many different words or phrases to ask people to contact you, but most importantly, you have to have that Call to Action on every page.
10. Edit, edit, edit
This tip is the one that non-professional writers tend to neglect; they’re just so relieved to have written the content that they don’t read or rewrite it to make improvements.
You can always enhance the first draft of anything you write. You’ll be rewarded by checking punctuation and grammar. You’ll also find that you can vastly improve the text.
Ideally, you’d learn from the experiences of professional copywriters who will write content, forget about it for a day and then return to it, pull it apart and improve everything about it.
Focus on Your Customers
It’s true that writing content for your new site or to improve your existing one presents challenges and isn’t something everyone feels comfortable doing. However, with time, planning and using these tips, everyone can write site content that helps them reach more customers.
Finally, if you take away only one thing from this article, make it this:
Focus on your customer’s needs and write for them.
If you would like help creating copy for your website or indeed if you need help in the design and build of your new website please contact us on 01491 575057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be delighted to assist.