Content writing for websites goes beyond good grammar and mechanics. It must address your target audience, solve their problem, while simultaneously educating about your business and inspiring them to act. For businesses to get the most out of their website design, they need exceptionally written copy. If you decide to DIY your website content, here are 5 steps to writing the perfect website copy.
Step One: Know Your Audience
Best copy practices for website design should always include knowing your audience. Determine your primary audience (current customer base) and secondary audience (second most important audience). You may also have a tertiary audience. This audience might consider buying from you but is a harder sell.
Now think about how they speak. What words do they use? What emotions does your product or service suggest? What problems does your audience care about?
Step Two: Start Drafting
Your first draft is never perfect (even for pro writers). Write your website copy like you’re talking to your customer. What would entice them to keep reading?
Engage readers through example versus telling them. In website content writing, this is done by showing action that directly solves a pain point. For example, EastCamp Creative’s homepage states, “Navigating Successful Brands”. This is effective because it entices you to consider how they help navigate successful brands, but also why it’s important.
SEO Pro Tip: Keep sentences around 10 words. Paragraphs should be three to four sentences before a break. Keep word choice simple. There’s no need for fancy words like juxtaposition in your website copy.
Step Three: Edit
Never edit a piece of content the same day you write the first draft. When editing, be sure to remove filler words (that, just, like) and read your content out loud.
Step Four: Format Your Content
When formatting, be sure your text is scannable. Today, readers have an attention span of about eight seconds. They won’t stick around if they can’t quickly assess how your content meets their needs.
If you have a list, use bullet points.
Keep callouts, italics, bold, and other formatting to a minimum, using only when necessary to emphasize. Use white space – the empty space around other images and text – to break up your text.
Use images and other multimedia.
Adds links to other pages on your site, i.e. past blogs, homepage, services, etc. where appropriate. When linking within your own website, make sure the new window opens on the same page. If you’re linking to an outside resource, make sure the window opens on a new tab.
SEO Pro Tip: Add ALT Text, i.e. alternative text – invisible description of images – to all images you upload. It helps boost your SEO, but also aids compliance of your website’s accessibility guidelines.
Step Five: Always Include an Ask
One of the biggest differences of website content versus other types of content is the ask. Your website needs to ask visitors to do something. Do you want them to call, shop now, or sign up for a newsletter? If they act, what will they get in return?
Finally, never stop analyzing your website content’s performance. Review analytics often to make sure your content is doing its job. If you have an increased bounce rate – percentage of users that leave after visiting only one page – it might be time to revise your copy.
Heather Cherry is Marketing Director, Freelance Writer at Heather Cherry Consulting Co, a boutique marketing agency offering social media marketing and content consulting. Heather has been writing professionally for over 12 years. She has been published in Pittsburgh Parent, Deliberate Magazine, Nanny Magazine, and the Classic Specs blog. She holds a master’s degree in Professional Writing from Chatham University. Heather specializes in social media marketing strategy, content creation, brand management, and SEO. Her goal at Heather Cherry Consulting is to help her clients share their story in unexpected ways. In her free time, Heather works on her nonfiction book draft.