Writing for Websites – 7 Tips

Let’s talk about your website copy

It’s not that easy to write about yourself and your own business.  If you’ve tried writing your own website or other marketing content and got stuck, don’t worry. It happens all the time. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

Business owners are sometimes just too close to their own story.

But we all know that it’s hugely important to get the copy for your website right!

Content is being thrown at consumers constantly and at rapid speed. According to data and market measurement giant Nielsen, adults spend nearly half of their day interacting with media. You guessed it, a lot of that is online.

Well-written copy for your website that’s optimised for search engines will reach high in search results, holds readers’ attention, and turns viewers into buyers. If your web design and content is average, your audience is gone.

You’ve got to impress them in 10 seconds or less.

That’s a fact!

Stop

What not to do

One of the biggest no-no’s for your website text is to make it all about you.

We do this, we do that. Awesome, but we don’t care.

When writing for your website, the focus should be on the reader. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Discover what their pain point is. Why are people searching for your business in the first place? What do they need? What problems can you solve? How can you help them?

The best possible website content is:

  • Useful
  • Original
  • Credible
  • Relevant
  • Friendly

How to achieve that? Take note:

  1. Research EVERYTHING

Before you start writing, do your research. The key messages will come from what you’ve learned. You’ll need to find the answers to these important questions:

  • What’s your purpose and intent?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What’s your competition up to?

The purpose for your new website could be to create an online presence for your business or to improve what you have now, enhance customer interaction, sell your products/services, or provide valuable information for new and existing customers.  

Once you have established what you want to achieve, you need to know what your audience will respond to.

Find out who your potential customers are, and where they hang out. Look at reviews for products and services that are similar to yours, see what comments and phrases you find. Write your copy with all that in mind.

Don’t forget to analyse what your competitors do. Look at their website, social media, and read their blogs. See what value statements, tone, and keywords they use. Discover their strengths and weaknesses so you can fill the gaps with your own content creation.

Implement all that you’ve learned into a solid content strategy that is sure to benefit your website and your business.  

Research

2. Hook them in

The good thing about the internet is that everything is measurable. It’s all about the data!

Studies show that it takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for visitors to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, and if they’ll stay or leave.

15 seconds is the average time spent on a website. Knowing that, you’ll know you’ve got to be quick to capture someone’s attention. However, pages with a clear value proposition will capture people’s attention and hold it for much longer.

A value proposition is a statement that answers the why someone should do business with you. That’s something you must clearly communicate, within a few seconds or less.

It’s more than just a catch phrase. A value proposition is usually a key statement followed by an intro that explains the key benefits of working with you, or how the features of your product or service will deliver what they need. It will have a hero image that reinforces the message.

All this should be above the fold. That’s an old term from the days where newspapers were still a thing, but it matters in web design, too. It essentially means the area that fills the screen, the prime real estate, approximately 600 pixels from the top of the page.    

Your website copy needs a hook.

3. Make it scannable

No one wants to read long blocks of text. Research on the way people read websites, again from Nielsen, shows that only 16% of people read a webpage word by word. Most people just scan the content. Scannable content is what online readers are looking for, whether they consciously know it or not.

This is how you do it:

  • Keep your paragraphs short and to the point
  • Keep sentences short. The full stop is your friend!
  • Avoid long words. Those with less than four syllables
  • Use subheadings and bullet points
  • Mix it up with images and colour blocks
  • Pay attention to fonts and typography
  • Cut out all the fluff and flowery stuff
  • Make sure that the words you write are easy
  • Say what you need to say in as few words as possible
  • Review and edit without mercy

4. Optimise your content (SEO)

You are writing your content for the website user, that first and foremost, but you also need to use the words and phrases people would type into the search engine to make sure they find you.

Showing up in the first few links on Google in the unpaid section can be the deciding factor between a business that’s thriving and one that falls flat.

On-page SEO writing means writing content with both search engines and users in mind. It means using the right words and structure for all your content and pages. It includes optimising your headlines, HTML tags (title, meta, and header), and images.

Although Google perfects its algorithms constantly, on-page SEO is still one of the most important things to focus on when writing content for your website.

With an ongoing focus on SEO, your rankings will go up and so will your organic traffic.

Doing your keyword research up-front is a crucial part of great content but it’s not just keywords you need. It’s all about the user experience! When you have sorted your website’s on-page SEO elements, you’re halfway there.

The trick is to make sure that users do not bounce but continue to view your content, interact with it, and keep coming back for more.

Keyword stuffing will make your site fall flat

5. Don’t fall for keyword stuffing

Jamming as many keywords as you can into your text will hurt your rankings rather than improve them. It worked ten years ago but those days are long gone. Google doesn’t like it one bit if you try to manipulate them.

Keyword stuffing makes content hard to read. If you publish mediocre content that provides minimal (if any) value to your audience, you’ll lose them in 3 seconds. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your rankings.

Don’t forget that Google measures everything!

Keep your text readable, and keep in mind that readers enjoy variation. Synonyms are good and they should come naturally in the flow of your content writing. A cover is also a lid. Another word for business is corporate. Pharmaceutical is medical, a hotel is accommodation, cars are vehicles and copy is text. It’s okay to mix it up.

In SEO, it’s quality over quantity. Focus on creating relevant, user friendly, keyword rich and high-quality content.

6. Review and edit

The first draft of anything is shit. That could have easily been my own quote, but it was Ernest Hemmingway who said it. First drafts are usually too long, too wordy, and too complicated.

When you’re done writing your content, revisit it. Correct any typos and delete, scrap, and ditch everything you don’t need. Remove all double ups and flowery words, plus kill anything that’s dull and bland.

With a good and merciless editing round, you will uncover the beauty of your ideas. You can refine it more to fit your audience and add more or stronger subheadings in the right places. Editing creates clarity and gives you an opportunity to make the text more engaging, more credible, and more persuasive.

It’s worth the effort. This blog for instance had 2482 words before I cut it back to 1856.

That’s still a lot, I know. Longform is my thing.

7. Leave them wanting more

Good websites have one or more strong calls-to-action, or CTA for short, on every page.

Make good use of your CTAs. It should be easy for people to contact you if they have questions or want more information. They need to be able to contact you now if they are keen to work with you.

CTAs should instigate action, so use words like Download, Buy, Share, Call Now, Read More.

The goal is to drive conversions with intention.

If you have a blog, write in the intro that you share new insights every week or month. Invite your audience to check back often, ask them to sign up for your newsletter or follow your social media channels. Whatever it is you want to make them do, make sure it’s easy and deliver something that’s valuable.

Be consistent and deliver what you promise.

Sounds like a lot of work?

Well yes, I’m afraid it is. Building a website then letting it go stale is a waste of your time and hard-earned money.

To stay in the game and on top of the search results, you must update your site regularly. A static website is seen by search engines as neglected, having nothing new to offer.

Every update you make to your website once it’s live plays a part in its interaction with visitors and the search engines.

Use analytics to see what works and what doesn’t and tweak your content and CTAs accordingly. It can make a big difference to your conversions.

Give your audience what they need

Your content should evolve with your business but of naturally, one of the main problems is finding the time. Outsourcing your copywriting makes sense, but a lot of small businesses owners have a limited budget.

It’s an expense they don’t always see the value of, but my question is… can you afford not to?

For a website to work, you need to nail three things:

  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Content

If you skimp on either of those, I can tell you now that you will not get the results you want.

What we can do for you

Every product, and every business, has a unique personality. It’s our job at Sweet Orange to let that shine. Our copywriters are experts at producing words for the web. We’ve done it for many years, upskill constantly, and have many clients who would be more than happy to tell you how our writing and project management has made a difference to their business. 

Just read some of their kind words here. We love our clients, and they love us!

You now probably see why hiring a professional copywriter makes sense. It will save you valuable time and ensures you get it right online from the get-go. 

We don’t charge the earth either, but we will make sure you get unique copy that you can be proud of and confidently share. If you need a hand creating content that converts, let’s tee up a time to get together and see if we’re a good fit!

We’d love to work with you!

~ By Martine Pierhagen, Founder of Sweet Orange Copywriting & PR

Thank you

~ Again, with huge thanks to the amazing photographers from around the world that generously upload their work for free sharing on unsplash.com

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