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4 tips for writing website copy that works

Not sure where to start when writing the copy for your new website? Got a website that’s not getting your messages across?

Follow our four top tips to get your website copy working hard for your business.

1. Talk to a person, don’t lecture an audience

It comes as a shock to some businesses, but your website isn’t about you, it’s about the people who use it. And, to make sure your copy is as effective as possible, you need a clear picture of your target user. Working out who you’re writing for will keep your copy sounding natural, helping you to avoid overly formal phrases that turn people off. It’ll also make sure you’re giving your website visitors the information they’re looking for.

Boost your chances of grabbing attention and fulfilling a need by creating a list of product/solution benefits your website covers. All too often, customer websites focus on features (what a product can do) rather than benefits (how a product can help the user or provide something of value to them). Use these benefits as main messaging throughout your website copy.

Determine your benefits-led messaging by asking these key questions about your target reader:

  • What are their priorities?
  • What problems do you help them avoid or solve?
  • What do they want to know about you?

2. Make ‘easy’ your priority

With your messaging centred firmly on the benefits of working with you, focus on creating a reading experience that makes things as easy as possible for your reader.

Start by getting your level right: work out the gap between your expertise and your reader’s knowledge. Tell them what they already know, and you risk patronising them. Make things too complicated, and you’ll only achieve confusion. Clear communication depends on pitching what you’re saying at your reader’s level of comprehension, so they understand with minimal effort.

Next, make sure you write clearly, using simple language in short, active sentences. Basically, talk like a human being, using ‘you’ and ‘we’, rather than the third person. Remember, your aim is to make it as easy as possible for your reader to absorb your messages (and sounding like an academic paper really won’t help).

Keep the problems your business can solve in mind when writing and describe the positive actions your products or services deliver. This will give your website a dynamic, problem-solving feel that’s attractive to business prospects. Save any negative language for describing the pain points your products or services will solve.

Make it easy for your reader to trust you by avoiding overblown claims. Instead, make clear statements and back them up with proof, such as stats, case studies or testimonials. And remember that using jargon isn’t a shortcut to authority. If anything, it’ll turn your reader off, lacking the conviction and authenticity of direct statements.

Finally, include plenty of opportunities for your readers to convert their interest into action. Incorporate a clear call to action at least once on every page, making it easy for them to take the next step.

Deliver an easy experience for your readers:

  • Talk to your reader’s likely level of expertise, without jargon.
  • Use simple, active language that focuses on problem solving.
  • Offer plenty of opportunities to progress working with you.

3. Write for skim reading

No one reads every word of every web page on a site, so don’t write your copy as though this is what your visitors will do. On average, users spend less than 15 seconds on a web page, scanning for something relevant and picking out what they want to know more about. With limited time to grab their attention, you need to opt for a journalistic approach. Don’t hide your main messages in lengthy explanations; invert your writing structure and start with what’s most important — in case that’s all they read — then go on to offer more detail.

Write for scanners to get your messages across loud and clear:

  • Headline your key point in simple language.
  • Use subheadings to signpost key content.
  • Break messages up into subpoints using numbered lists or bullets.

4. Think SEO

Once you’re happy that your website copy is clearly communicating your benefits, think about how you can optimise it for search purposes. This isn’t an excuse to stuff your copy with keywords, because that will make it sound unnatural and unappealing — and can have a negative effect on SEO. Instead, read through your copy to see where you can add a keyword without adversely affecting the flow or the meaning.

Try to use your most important keyword in your page title and use your primary keywords in the first sentence if possible, to signal to search engines what your page is about. At the very least, use your primary keywords in the first paragraph. Subheadings, alt tags, meta descriptions and the file names of any images are all helpful places to feature keywords.

Once you’ve covered off these prime areas, try and weave in your keywords and common alternatives naturally throughout the body of your copy to help search engines validate that your page should rank for your keyword(s) and related search terms.

Balance SEO requirements with delivering an effective reading experience:

  • Write for your reader first and SEO second.
  • Incorporate keywords carefully into your page structure.
  • Use keywords as naturally as possible.

5. Win business with effective website copy

You know your customers and prospects better than anyone, so use that insight to create web copy that really speaks to them and tackles their problems head on. Make every word on your site work hard to build relationships and win you business.

If you’d like a hand, at asabell we help businesses with their web copy all the time — from new enterprises starting from scratch, through to existing businesses who want to bring their copy in line with their latest strategies.

We’re expert at interviewing you to get all the information we need to create effective website copy that gets the job done. Get in touch to talk about what we could do for your business.

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