Get Writing Your Website Off to a Strong Start Part 1: 5 Top Tips for Crafting Your Website Copy
by Kate Llewellyn from The Content Consultancy
Writing your website copy can be the hardest content you ever have to write.
You need to balance giving people the details and information they need to buy from you, but also not overwhelming potential clients with information.
You need to ensure your copy is clear and contains keywords, but also ensure it is engaging and compelling.
You need to update the copy regularly but also write ‘the basics’ well enough the first time to ensure that your website is the ‘go to’ information point for your business.
Below, you will find 5 recommendations, from The Content Consultancy, to help you with planning, writing and perfecting your website copy. Use it like a checklist to ensure you don’t miss any of the essentials!
1. Understand SEO
Before you start writing anything for your website, you need to understand the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), because to the best of your ability, you need to optimise your content.
You don’t need to be an expert, but if you have a basic understanding of what you are trying to achieve from a ‘search engine perspective’, then you will have more chance of naturally wiring optimised content.
In a nutshell, SEO has two sides, the technical side and the content side. The technical side deals with meta data, sitemaps, tags and alt text, all of which you can do ‘behind the scenes’. The content side focusses on what you write and ‘where’ you write it.
As this post is about website copywriting tips, it will focus on the content side. The best advice is that you think very carefully about how people would find your website if they were searching for you on a search engine. For example, ask yourself: “What would my ideal customer type in to Google?” and, nowadays, also “What would they ask their smart speaker?”
Consider words related to your business, location terms and also full questions. Consider both the problem and solution. For example, some people may type “help for back pain” whilst others will type “back massage”. If you offer massage, you need to mention both ‘back pain’ and ‘back massage’ in your copy.
Write everything down that you can think of, as it is considerably useful to have a list to refer back to.
By considering these questions, you will start to envisage all of the words and content that you need to include on your site, in some form. You can then consider where it will need to be located – start allocating the words and content ideas to the pages of your site.
2. Identify and list your keywords
Continuing with the SEO theme, before you write any copy, list out as many of the words that relate to your business – including what you do, where you do it, how you do it and why you do it! This should help your list above grow considerably again.
Write down every single obvious word in every single form – i.e. engineer, engineering, engineers! Think verbs, adjectives and nouns.
By making these lists and notes, it will help to ensure that these words and themes will be in your mind when you start writing your copy in full.
The most important place for keywords is in your URLs and also in your H1 and H2 headings. It is great to have fun and captivating headings and taglines but the ‘search engine bots’ still scan URLs and H1 (main titles) first, so you need to help those bots to know the main topics and key content of your website as easily as possible.
3. Start with the essentials
The blank page can be the scariest bit of writing your website copy. If you are really struggling with writer’s block or where to start, then start by simply using a questions and answer format.
Most business websites need to answer question like the following:
- What do you do?
- What can you offer me?
- Where are you located?
- When do you do it? / When are you open or available?
- Where can I find you? (physical location and social media!)
- How do I contact you?
- How do I buy from you?
- Why do you do what you do?
- How long have you been doing what you do?
- Why should I buy from you?
Simply start by answering these questions. Then decide which of the answers belong where – for example, is this vital home page information or could it sit on the about page?
You can then edit the questions in to headings (thinking about your keywords!) and give the answers a little more flourish or depth where necessary. …but, at least, you will have a good start.
4. Write for the distracted
You may feel concerned about honing the copy for your website and will want to select every word with great care and consideration. This is wonderful, however, be warned (!)…website visitors have the very short attention spans! One website designer once said, “treat your website visitor like they are drunk!” The idea being that you need to make everything really easy to understand and don’t be afraid to repeat yourself.
When you are writing your website copy, imagine that you are guiding the website visitor by the hand – so keep your copy short and to the point. They will be easily distracted by headings and images – so make sure these work really hard for you.
5. Write for all devices
Remember that your website may not always be viewed on a desktop (where you are likely to be designing and building it). Here are 5 top tips for writing website copy suitable for all readers:
- Keep sentences as short as possible – very few conjunctions (and, but, also) – instead use separate sentences.
- Keep paragraphs short and break up long sections of texts with headings (at least 1 heading to a maximum of three paragraphs)
- Use language relevant to your target audience not that only suits you – think about your use of technical jargon and what you need to explain
- Put the most important points at the top and at the bottom of the screen – website users often scroll and scan from the top to the bottom, before deciding whether the information contained is relevant to them
- If you have any lengthy sections of text, double-check the length on a small screen. What looks like a short paragraph on a desktop screen can suddenly involve lots of scrolling on a mobile phone.
Have confidence and go for it!
You know your business better than anyone else. Your passion for your business should shine through your website. Your voice will come through in your writing. Take confidence from all of these things and get writing.
Kate Llewellyn is a content consultant who feels strongly about creating powerful marketing material which works hard for your business. She launched her business, The Content Consultancy in 2017 to support fellow small businesses.