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We can’t stress enough how important good content is for your website. We’d go as far to say that a website is only as good as its content. You can have the most gorgeous design and powerful functionality in the world, but if the messages are off and you’re not answering your visitors’ questions, it’s unlikely to convert. Or in non website-y terms, it’ll be all pop, no fizz.
One way to get high quality website content is to hire a copywriter – either an independent copywriter or via your web agency. Whilst we believe this generally more than pays itself off, the reality is that budget doesn’t always stretch. And sometimes, your content requires such detailed knowledge of your industry that it can’t realistically be outsourced.
Whatever your reason, if you choose to write your own website content, we’ve put together a selection of tips to help you. Keep reading to find out how to write copy that works, and avoid ending up with a website that’s all bark and no bite.
Think of the specific audiences (groups of people) visiting each page. You may have different audiences (e.g. prospects are a different audience to existing customers) who want to visit different pages (e.g. a prospect may want to find out more about your services and track record, whereas an existing customer may want to access support information).
What does each audience want to find out? What are the most important questions on their mind? How will they be feeling when using your site? The more you can put yourself in their shoes, the better. Create mini profiles describing each type of audience, and identify the key questions/ information sought by each.
Strategies you could use to work out their key questions/ information are identifying what they’re already asking you by phone or email, ask them what they looked for on your website and if there was anything they couldn’t find, evaluate your Google analytics to see how your existing site is being used and use good old common sense.
Our advice (particularly for brochure sites – e-commerce is slightly different) is not to overthink or over complicate this. Whilst there could be hundreds of individual questions, there’s a smaller group of key questions on most of your audience’s minds. Address the important ones, and if they like what they hear and still have questions, they’ll get in touch and your website will have done its job.
If like most websites your objective is to get someone to take a positive step (e.g. buy, enquire, request a quote, book, subscribe, sign up, etc.) think of the end benefits that your products, processes and services will give to your customers, and highlight them throughout your content.
Describing features or things that you feel are important (but your customers don’t) is an easy trap to fall into, because we all know far too much about what we do.
Think about the challenges your customers are facing that cause them to be on your website in the first place, and the goals they have and recognise they need help achieving them. What ultimate difference will working with you, or using your services/ products, make to their businesses or lives?
Also consider the things that you do that no-one else does, or does in quite the same way. What benefits would your customers have working with you as opposed to one of your competitors? Highlight all of these throughout your website content.
What evidence can you give to show people you’re not just saying these great things, but that you really do have the fastest response rate/ fanatical levels of customer service/ have achieved x% growth for your customers?
Try to gather as many facts, statistics, testimonials, case studies or other evidence that give weight to your claims, and rather than isolating them all in a case studies section or testimonials page, introduce them at relevant points throughout the different pages to back up any claims as you make them.
Keywords (also known as SEO keywords) are the words people type into Google to find you online. If you’ve included good keywords in your website content, Google will include you somewhere in the search result pages when people search for those phrases.
Keywords can be branded, i.e. the name of your company e.g. Six Two. They can also be service/ product based i.e. what you do. Out of the these, they can be high level and generic e.g. ‘Web design’, or more detailed and specific e.g. ‘WordPress website developer in Kent’.
Generic terms get more people searching for them, but they also have a lot more competition making it harder to get to page 1. The converse is true for specific terms, which also have the added bonus of a higher conversion rate; if you’ve searched for something very specific and find that exact thing, you’re more likely to buy/ enquire.
Our advice for most businesses would therefore be to focus on your branded and specific keywords to start with. Write a list of the things you’d like to be found for, and include these keywords a few times on each page of your website content. Click here to read a more in depth article covering how to do this.
It’s very easy to slip into jargon or overly complex phrases that your visitors won’t understand. Make sure you write in plain English and use specific words (not waffle or buzzwords) and stay clear of jargon. Terminology that’s commonplace to you may sound like complete gibberish to your customers.
Avoid long paragraphs of text which can put readers off. Break your copy into smaller paragraphs and where appropriate, add titles or subtitles. You can also use bold and italics to draw attention to key points. This will help your audiences to digest the information easier and scan read to get to the part they’re looking for quicker.
It’s a big no-no to copy content from other websites and use it on your own. Google will give you the equivalent of a black mark, which means it will be difficult for people to find you online. Make sure your website content is original. It’s fine to re-use good content that comes from your existing website, just no-one else’s.
Tone of voice is one of the hardest things to get right. Unless you’re a pro or have a natural flair for copywriting, it’s difficult to write in a way that truly sounds like us. However, a genuine tone of voice will do so much to engage with your target audiences on a more meaningful level that it’s worth the effort.
Does the tone you’re using reflect your company’s personality? For example, bold, authoritative and straight to the point? If so, don’t have long paragraphs that waffle on and talk in hypotheticals. Or are you empathetic, warm and passionate? If so, use more emotionally driven language.
Whatever your personality, it’s important to have a tone of voice that genuinely reflects who you are. If you say and act in two contrary ways, that’s a sure fire way to break trust.
Whilst you’re paying for your website, your website isn’t for you – it’s for your target audiences. It’s all about them, and in your content you should speak directly to them, i.e. write more in terms of ‘you’ rather than ‘I’ or ‘we’. Of course, there will be occasions when ‘I’ or ‘we’ is unavoidable, but try to see if there’s a variation with ‘you’.
For example, ‘we have the fastest level of customer service responses in the South East’ could be rewritten as ‘you will enjoy one of the fastest levels of customer service responses in the South East’.
On each page there should be one main call to action for what you want your visitors to do next. For example, are they at a point where they’ve had all the details and may be ready to enquire? Or, do they need to see more evidence of your work?
You can also have secondary calls to action. For example, on your team page, the main call to action may be to get in touch with a certain individual, but you may also want to link to your accreditations or services. Having relevant links helps people to stay on your website and discover pages they may not have otherwise.
Think about your most desired action after someone reads a page, and what secondary options may be helpful and relevant – never leave your users at a dead end.
If knowing what calls to action to have sounds daunting, but you’re working with a professional who’s designing your site, this is exactly the type of advice they’ll be able to offer.
Computers do so much error checking on our behalf nowadays, but whilst they’re good with typos they don’t always spot grammatical issues or inconsistencies in your website content. The best strategy is to get someone else to proofread your work; if you’ve written it, you read what you’re expecting to read, not what you’ve actually written.
Pay as much attention to your content as you do to the design of your website. Whether the site is one shade of blue or another, or whether you have sharp or rounded corners on your images, will not make as much difference to how well your website performs and converts as content that is well written will.
If you have any questions or need help with your website content, feel free to get in touch and we’d be happy to help.
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