Investing in a new website is a big decision that can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. One of the most important pieces of the process is creating website copy that helps you connect with customers. Don’t get us wrong – beautiful design and a strong technical foundation are essential. However, without organized, thoughtful content, your website won’t reach its full potential.
There are two reasons your website copy is so important:
- Professional, skimmable content tells potential customers what they want to know about your business.
- Search engines like Google use written words to understand what your website is about because they can’t crawl images or layouts (yet).
For digital copy that knocks the socks off your clients (and helps you out-rank your competitors), use these tips for writing website content:
1. Know Your Audience
Your website is one of many tools you use to connect with potential customers and current clients. The copy throughout should reflect that. Stop to think about who exactly you’re writing for. Knowing who your customer is and what’s important to them helps you create content that they can relate to.
Use the language they use, instead of industry speak. Focus on how your business can solve problems for people. Make sure you include the phrases your potential customers use to search online for products or services like yours. You want to do this in a natural way. It shouldn’t be obvious that your website copy is optimized; keep it conversational!
2. Build a User Flow
Once you have a good idea of who you’re writing for, think about how they might interact with your website. Organize the information you want to share in a way that helps people (and search engines) understand what your company is about. Look at your competitors’ website structure. What do they leave out? What do they cover unnecessarily? Ask your current customers what information they needed before shopping with you. Maybe they called to clarify something. Those details could easily be added when writing new content for your website.
Start with a headline, subheadlines and a basic outline for each web page. As you build out each page, think about where you can link to other pages of your website to guide visitors through the customer journey. This might be a minimalistic link in paragraph text or a more obvious call to action. Keep in mind that people may not always start on your homepage. All of your top-level pages should be informative enough that potential customers can find their way to what they’re looking for.
Encouraging engagement throughout your website is important. Design plays a part in this aspect of your website, but persuasive copywriting can improve this as well. Search engines like Google take into account how people interact with your website. More engagement (clicks, time on site, etc.) means a searcher probably found what they were looking for. This helps Google and other search engines understand that your website is an authority that helps answer people’s questions.
3. Share Your Knowledge
You are an expert in your industry. Share your knowledge! Google considers expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (EAT) when evaluating your website. Use your site’s copy to prove to users and search engines alike that your business should be seen as a resource.
How do you let website visitors know they can trust you and your business? Use your website copy to explain how your products or services solve problems. Fully explain each web page’s topic in a way that appeals to the audience you defined. If there’s a section on your website that you can’t talk about with authority, consider combining it with another similar topic. We usually aim for at least 300 words on each page.
4. Make It Yours
Your brand’s personality should shine through when you write content for your website. If your brand has a style guide (even an informal one), your copy should follow it. This will help you make sure your voice, punctuation and spelling are consistent from page to page.
Never (ever, ever) use copy that you didn’t create. This is plagiarism, which is basically stealing someone else’s work. Google’s term for this is “duplicate content” and it de-values websites using unoriginal content. While these penalties should be enough to dissuade you from copying and pasting, you’re also selling your business short if you use someone else’s words to describe it.
5. Make It Readable
We just spent 700 words telling you how to write for your website. And now we’re going to tell you that no one will read it. Okay, not no one. But to connect with potential customers, your website copy needs to be easy to skim. Create descriptive headlines, use bullet points and break text into short paragraphs. As more of your website visitors come from mobile devices, it’s important to think about how your copy will look on small screens too.
Taking copy from brochures or press releases might make your job easier, but writing for the web usually lends itself to more a personable tone. Your website copy should be written in a conversational voice that’s still professional, rather than sliding toward sloppy. Stick to short sentences and the active voice to make it easy to understand. Mix up your vocabulary to keep your copy from sounding repetitive. If you find yourself using a word multiple times, use a thesaurus to find alternatives.
6. Revisit It
After you finish writing your website copy, take a step back. With fresh eyes, go back and edit your content. Fix any typos. Rewrite any section that doesn’t seem quite right. Then, ask someone else to read your content too. Often, it’s your website that is a potential customer’s first impression of your business. You want it to be a good one – not one filled with grammatical errors. If you’re having a hard time deciding how to word a sentence, test it. Create social media posts or search ads with a few variations to see what gets the best response from clients.
Tip: Read your copy out loud and change anything that sounds funny.
When all of your website copy is good to go, write a title tag (approximately 50 to 60 characters) and meta description (approximately 150 to 170 characters) for each page. These are what you’re asking search engines to display in their results pages for your web pages. They should accurately reflect the information on the page and encourage searchers to click on your website in the search results.
After you pass along your completed copy to your design team, you can breathe easy – for now. You’re never really done writing content for your website. Make sure you check back on a regular basis to make sure all the details you included about your business are still accurate!