Writing copy for your website requires discipline and strategy. A common mistake that small business owners make when it comes to writing their web copy on their own is to write simply to have content, ignoring a strategy.
Written words on a web page don’t mean much for your business if you don’t know how to craft your copy in a way that draws in potential customers and communicates the benefit of your business. More than that, technical things such as SEO must be taken into account when writing copy for your website.
What you need more than words on a page is a carefully planned strategy. Here’s how to get started:
1. Assemble the building blocks
The copywriting process should begin well before your website is up and running. Think of your online presence like a puzzle — every piece needs to fit together harmoniously to achieve a balanced, cohesive, and beautiful big picture. Your website design, branding, social media, blog, and copy should all function as perfect complements to one another. For that reason, you need to plan your copy alongside your website's design in order to tell the proper story of your value and why a visitor should call you over the competition.
Identify the structure of each page you will need to write for. A foundational part of this process will be your SEO and keyword research. Search engines are powerful for driving organic traffic, so it’s important that you identify the keywords that the customers you want to attract will most likely use upon researching the type of service or product you’re offering.
Each page on your website should be assigned one target keyword. For instance, if you’re a Houston-based dentist, it is a good idea (from an SEO perspective) to have a separate page for each dental service you offer rather than condensing all of them into one page.
A word of caution here, you should use keywords where they fit in naturally. Search engines such as Google will penalize your website for keyword stuffing, so don’t go overboard. A Google penalty can cause your website ranking to drastically dip down, not to mention it will be a hassle to go back and rewrite your copy to get the penalty dismissed.
2. Know who you’re writing for
One of the most important lessons to learn when it comes to writing compelling website copy is that you’re never actually writing about you, you're writing about the value you deliver — from your home page to your about us section, keep your customers and prospects at the heart of the message you’re conveying.
It’s crucial that you identify your target audiences and talk to them in a manner they appreciate, with content that compels them to choose you. Who are your ideal clients? What are their biggest challenges? How can your service or product be valuable to them? Doing so will help you create highly targeted web copy that speaks to your target audience both on a rational and emotional level.
3. Speak to your audience in a manner they’ll appreciate
Now that you know who you’re writing for and understands what makes them tick, you need to map out the mechanics of your tone and language. Do you want to sound professional, conversational, friendly, formal, funny, enthusiastic, authoritative, or something else entirely? Keep in mind that the tone you ultimately choose should be heavily representative of your brand. Once you pick a tone, stay consistent across your website copy and even across your other marketing mediums such as your social media channels and physical brochures and other sales collateral.
Equally important to this process is your narrative. What perspective would you like to write in? Decide whether the first, second, or third person is the best fit with your brand and with your target audience. Once you make the judgment call, stick with it. Here’s a little tip to help you choose a writing perspective:
- First person (I, me) is a highly personal and autobiographical voice.
- Second person (you, your) is a more instructive and conversational voice.
- Third person (he/she) is a more detached and neutral voice.
4. Formatting is just as important
You need to pay attention to your formatting just as much as your actual copy. Think of the format of your web copy as a guide — if you’re not focused on structure through visual cues, your website visitors may get lost.
For that reason, it’s important that you break up content wherever possible by using images, bulleted lists, subheadings, etc. Make sure that every concept has a logical, next-step call-to-action that you want your audience to take after reading that page. It could be as simple as moving on to the next page on the same topic or it may be to download an advanced piece of content, request a quote, or schedule a meeting. Create a logical flow of information to ensure that you’re not overwhelming your readers and you keep them moving down the path towards becoming a customer.
5. Build the Rapport
Keep in mind that customer communication is a two-way process. Make sure that your web copy inspires opportunities for engagement and conversation. Avoid information overload and instead, leave just enough room for your prospects and customers to connect with you for follow-up questions.
Make sure that your company phone number, email addresses, and web forms are in an easy-to-access and visible place on your website so that your prospects can get in touch.
Your web copy is a living, breathing thing. If you’re writing it on your own, hopefully, these tips will help you get found by your target audience, display your value and earn you new customers. If this is not your forte, it’s best to hire a local copywriter, or marketing professional that can help you write and fine tune your copy to increase its effectiveness.