The best websites take you by the hand and guide you through their offering. No matter where you land on the site, you’ll meet a user experience that is tailor-made just for you. The best websites speak to you, not about you. And they aren’t afraid to get personal every once in a while.
This magic happens thanks to the skill of website copywriters. These people aren’t concerned with snappy headlines or keyword stuffing. They are all about crafting a user experience that speaks directly to their target audience.
How to write website content with purpose
If you are tasked with writing the copy for your website, we have a few tips to help you along the way. You don’t have to be a bestselling author to write something that resonates with readers. In this guide, we’ll look at 11 steps you can take to write powerful website copy.
1. Define your reader
Don’t write a single word until you know who you are writing it for. This will not only help to inform the style of your writing, it will also inform your word choice. For example, an educational website aimed at kids won’t be written in the same style as a law firm. And an eCommerce website won’t have the same punchy persuasive language as a concrete pouring company.
You can learn more about creating customer personas here.
2. Plan the website hierarchy
Before you can start writing, you need to understand the website as a whole. Most websites will have a home page, about page, services pages and a contact page as standard. For an eCommerce site, you might need category pages and product pages, too.
When you plan your whole website, you can see how links between the pages will work and optimise the content with this information in mind. For example, if you’re a dentist and you offer emergency appointments, it might make sense to mention this on a page about tooth extractions.
3. Do your research
Keyword research will help to shape how you create your content. Knowing the terms that customers use to find your content is vital. It’s common for those within an organisation to use technical terms and jargon without realising that the outside world has no idea what they are talking about.
Your online pharmacy might sell Ferrous Fumarate pills, but your customers are searching for iron pills. Keyword research will help to shape the terms you use to talk about your products or services.
4. Look at your competitors
Once you have a list of keywords to target, look at which websites appear in the top 10 results for these terms. If your current company website isn’t in the top 10, you’ve got some work to do. Look at competitor landing pages to get an idea of the kind of detail you need to offer. You might notice similarities between the content and headings. This likely isn’t an accident.
5. Define the action for each page
Every page on your website should inspire an action, and it doesn’t always have to be a purchase or enquiry. And you don’t have to limit yourself to one action per page. Think about the intent of each page and where the user will be in their customer journey.
If you run a construction company and you specialise in home extensions, you might have a page on your website offering guidance for measuring for an extension. The users that land on this page aren’t necessarily ready to buy, but they might be interested in keeping in touch. Offering a newsletter sign up on this page with the promise of more helpful content to help guide them through their renovation would be ideal in this situation.
6. Think about the other elements on the page
A website with just plain text would be boring and cumbersome. That’s where the non-written elements come into play. Think about the images that will accompany your words, as they can often lighten the load. Remember that users retain information from images more than they retain information when reading text.
You can read more about the impact of photography on your website here.
7. Write for people, not search engines
When you’ve done the keyword research, the temptation is to shape all of the content around these words. While they should be included, don’t overstuff them at the expense of the flow of the writing. Location keywords are notoriously difficult to fit into text. The solution? Just don’t include them. Google and other search engines are smart enough to make the link, even if you mention the keyword and the location separately.
8. Create a logical structure
We’ve structured this blog post as a numbered list. And we let you know that it would be a numbered list in the article title. We could also have written it with headings instead of numbers, or it could have been a bullet point list.
If we had written this guide as a long block of text, it would have the same content, but you’d have a much tougher time extracting this meaning. Instead, we set your expectations with the title, provided a short introduction, and then provided an 11 point list.
Creating a website page should take on a format that makes the most sense for your business. This might include a page heading, short introduction, break down of your services and then a call to action. Some websites will also include a call to action above the fold so that high-intent customers don’t have to scroll at all.
Remember that you aren’t writing an article, you’re writing a web page. This means you can think of it in standalone blocks of text instead of writing something that requires the user to read the entire page from start to finish.
9. Get a second opinion
When you’ve created the text, ask a colleague to look it over. You could also ask someone not familiar with your sector to proofread the content. You need to know that you haven’t missed anything important. You also need to know that the writing is accessible and flows well.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone to review the copy once it’s live. Seeing the text in a word processor will be an entirely different experience to seeing the text on the page. Make sure the content works with the other elements on the page and provides a compelling reason to get in touch.
If you don’t have the time or resources to get a second opinion, a tool like Grammarly will allow you to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. And Hemingway App will allow you to spot awkward language and hard-to-read sentences.
10. Add links to relevant content
Linking between pages on your site and to external content helps to provide more context for the reader. If I told you that this matters because of the BERT Google update, and didn’t provide any more context, you might be a little confused by this term. But when I mention the BERT update and link to Search Engine Journal, you can quickly open the link in a new tab and learn what I mean.
The same applies to your website. You could provide links to other services your viewers might find helpful. You can also link to FAQ pages to help answer common questions without reproducing the content over and over.
And if you don’t have the information on your website, don’t be afraid to link out to trusted sources. This will make your website appear more trustworthy. Just remember that external links can change, so check them regularly to catch any broken links.
11. Make a maintenance plan
Once you’ve hit publish and the content is live, take a moment to celebrate! But don’t assume this is the last you’ll be seeing of your website content. You should always be tinkering with the content to make sure it’s working as hard as it should be.
This might mean adding more FAQs to your website. It could mean adjusting website copy to make it clearer. Or it could mean adding more content to help it rank. Your website copy should never be set in stone, so create a maintenance schedule to help keep it fresh and relevant.
If you need support crafting copy for your website, the Auburn team is here to help. We have a team of expert copywriters ready to take on any challenge. Get in touch to find out how we work!