A beginner's guide to good website copy
Posted on 16th January 2019 at 12:03
When people think about having a new website built, there’s a tendency to focus on design and development.
Obviously, these are crucial. But the quality of your written content is no less important than the visual and technical aspects of your site – if not more so in some respects, such as getting your SEO right.
In fact, you could consider copy as sitting at the centre of your ‘website building package’, as shown here:
So why exactly is good website copy important?
Here are our top 5 reasons:
1. Words persuade people to buy. OK, not in 100% of cases such as highly visual products like furniture or paintings, but definitely for service-based offerings.
2. Bad copy lets down good design and technical functionality. What’s the point of spending oodles of cash on a beautiful, high performance website if the content’s full of typos and grammatical gaffes? Consistency of quality is key.
3. People don’t like badly-written copy – fact. Poor content not only annoys people and puts them off, but also makes your business look amateurish.
4. From an SEO viewpoint, using the right keywords and phrases in your front and back end content is essential if your target customers are to find your site online.
5. Having said that, search terms must be incorporated in the right way, i.e. without making front end copy clunky or hard to read and avoiding keyword ‘stuffing’ (overuse).
Now we’ve set out why high quality content matters, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: how to write it! Drafting content for a new site from scratch might feel daunting, but our hints and tips will help you get off to a flying start.
1. Keep it short and snappy (where possible)
Think about how you read content yourself when you visit a website. Do you settle down for an in-depth perusal, or do you have a quick scan to see if a page is of interest? Most people would say the latter. So, write your copy with scanning in mind. Be concise where you can and get to the point immediately. Readers need to grasp your message in a second or two, not a minute or five!
If you do need to provide more info for certain pages, there are tools to get around this whilst staying reader-friendly. Examples include expanders, where you click on a headline and additional text appears, pop-up boxes that provide extra content when you hover over keywords, and good old PDF downloads.
2. Tell a story with sub-heads
This is a useful technique that helps with scanning by pulling out the 3 or 4 key messages for a certain page and summarising them in sub-headings.
The idea is that your readers only need to look at the headers to get what you’re on about – and what you want them to do (the last sub-head should always be a ‘call to action’).
Here’s an example:
Calling all creatives in Nottingham and beyond!
Need an extra pair of hands?
We’ll be your freelance copywriting partner
Get in touch to find out more
3. Get your tone and style right
Ever heard the phrase ‘It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’? Of course you have. And nowhere is this truism more pertinent than in terms of writing effective website copy. Get your tone and style right, and you’ll engage readers with your brand straightaway. Get it wrong and they’ll click away in a heart-beat.
The good news is: it’s not that hard to get it right. Just think about your target audience and the language they use in their everyday or working lives. For example, a solicitor might favour a more formal, detailed approach, whilst a teenager would be more drawn to fun, lively language that strikes a chord.
However you write, take time to make it interesting, relevant and helpful for your readers. This will not only give them what they’re looking for but will also boost your Google rankings, as ‘useful’ content is now favoured over ‘sales speak’.
Be careful when using industry jargon, too. Unless you think this is something that will engage your readers and you’re 100% sure they’ll understand it, stick to layman’s terms.
4. Be canny with keywords
As noted above, this is essential for SEO success. If you’re not sure which keywords and phrases to choose, there are some great online tools to help you identify the right ones for your business. Google Keyword Planner is a good place to start. Don’t forget geographical keywords if your company relies on local business.
When writing your content, try to weave in your keywords so the text flows seamlessly. Sentences like ‘We offer copywriting services in Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Sheffield, Mansfield…’ don’t read very well. You can always put the clunkier stuff into your page titles and metadata rather than in the front end content. (If you’re not sure what we mean by that, this article explains everything).
5. Keep it fresh
Once your website copy’s done and dusted, you might think that’s it. But you’d be wrong! Keeping your content up to date is an ongoing job, from adding and updating info about your products and services to writing regular blog and news articles to keep people coming back. Social media posts are important, too, as these will drive extra traffic to your site and widen your online ‘reach’ and engagement levels.
Naturally, consistency of content across all these channels is critical. Use the same core search terms and key messages, and always include links from third party sites to the relevant pages of your own website.
From time to time, we also recommend you review your website and other online activities to see how they’re doing so you can make any necessary tweaks – such as identifying new keywords – to improve performance.
Discombobulated by website copy? it’seeze Web Design Nottingham can help!
We understand that not everyone has the time or inclination to write their own website content. That why, when you choose it’seeze Web Design Nottingham to build your new site, we can put you in touch with expert copywriters who’ll take care of everything for you.
Or, if you already have a site, we can give it a free website health check to pick up on a range of potential issues, including spelling and grammatical errors. Like to know more? Just give us a bell on 0115 777 3001 or fill in our quick online form to request a call back.
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