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Don’t Write Boring Website Copy! Use Our Content Development Writing Guide
Writing website copy is not like writing the papers you did in high school or college, at all, please don’t write your website copy like that. People interact with computers differently than books or magazines and the way you organize and write your content needs to reflect that. Whenever possible we highly recommend you hire a professional copywriter to write your site content. We know that’s not always possible though and you may be trying to write it yourself. In those cases, we’ve put together this extensive guide to writing engaging, targeted, easy to read website copy. You’re welcome!
Content Development Writing Guide
When writing copy for your website, there are strategic decisions that, if made up front, will assist in the quality of your message, and accelerate actual writing time.
- Keep notes
- Be consistent
- Don’t jump from one incomplete area to another unless you must
- Schedule time to work on your copy.
It is important that the copy convey your understanding of the interest of your target market, not simply about you, your company or what you are selling. Occasionally you may need to ‘sell’ your product/service, and that is fine. Just do it respectfully, within the context and in the form of benefiting the reader.
Think about how you want to present the product or service, tell a story, speak to emotion, use colorful words. This will create a desire for the reader to really understand who you are and want to find out more. Doing so provides an opportunity to distinguish you from your competitors. Often, you can frame your story in terms of how much better your target client’s life will be upon purchasing your product or service. Find the “pain point” for your client and remove their pain. For example, Mr. Smith needs a new car but hates the car-buying process because he hates to negotiate the price. How would you sell your company to someone like Mr. Smith?
Pain-point – hates to haggle
Solution – no haggle policy
- What is the goal of this page?
- Which audience/persona is this page targeting?
- Which phase of their buying cycle is this page addressing?
- Based on the topic you’re covering, what are the 3 primary benefits you want to communicate?
- What keywords and phrases do you need to include for SEO?
Marketing land has a great list of additional questions you should run through before you start writing. Thinking over who you’re speaking to, what their needs are, and what will resonate with them most will help you create the most effective content to help the user meet their needs and bring you quality leads.
Choose Your Voice
Pick one voice to use based on your ideal customer/audience and maintain that voice throughout all the pages on your site.
- 1st person (as if talking directly to the reader: “I”, “we”)
- 2nd person ( ‘you’, ‘your’) <recommended for marketing copy
- 3rd person (as a narrator ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’)
Choose the style (i.e. casual, formal, friendly, professional, educational, etc). Then stick to the style throughout your copy unless there is a compelling reason to alternate for a specific area.
Use Keyword Research
Finding and effectively utilizing keywords can ensure that the content you spent so much time writing actually gets found online and read by the audience you’re trying to reach. How to find keywords with the right user intention, where and when to include them in your page copy is a complicated topic in itself. Read more on How To Use Keyword Research At Every Stage Of the Sales Funnel.
Calls To Action
You will want some kind of Call to Action, a sentence or phrase that compels the reader to do something specific, on every page. What is the next step you want them to take at that current stage in the sales funnel? You may have seen some of these used before:
- Call today for a free estimate [phone number]!
- Sign up now for our monthly e-newsletter!
- Sign up for coupons and specials!
- Get started now, contact us!
You might re-word your calls to action depending on the page of content. Make sure not to include too many CTA’s on one page, as too many choices can overwhelm your reader and prevent them from taking any action at all.
Structure and Formatting
To break-up blocks of text to make it easier to scan and read for users, and for the purpose of search engine optimization, you should always use headlines and many times use subheads in addition to your paragraph text. Don’t be afraid to use bullet points either. It might visually look like this:
Page Headline / Title (should be <h1>, clear and catchy, include primary keyword/phrase if possible)
First paragraph – What is the ONE thing you want the reader to understand after they’ve read the copy? This ONE thing should be captured in the first couple sentences followed by a summarization of the benefits on the rest of the page. This paragraph should also include the payoff (linked call-to-action).
Sub-Headline (Benefit #1) (should be <h2>, summarize the first main benefit discussed in the following paragraph, and include keyword/phrase if possible)
[Content block] back up the main benefit with supporting point. May use bullets tohighlight some features or additional points.
Sub-Headline (Benefit #2) (should be <h2>, summarize the second main benefit discussed in the following paragraph, and include keyword/phrase if possible)
[Content block] back up the main benefit with supporting point.
- May use a numbered list
- To highlight information
- In an easy-to read, step-by-step format.
Sub-Headline (Benefit #3) (should be <h2>, summarize the third main benefit discussed in the following paragraph, and include keyword/phrase if possible)
[Content block] back up the main benefit with supporting point.
Bolded, Linked Call-to-Action Line (provide clear direction as to where the reader should go next)
Reviewing your content
Check each page for the following:
- Have you checked for grammar and spelling errors?
- Is the page content a minimum of 250 to 500 words?
- Is the headline clear and catchy?
- Is this piece of content relevant to your target audience/persona? Does it address at least one of their problems and provoke them to take the next step (call-to-action)?
- Have you used short sentences and paragraphs and broken up paragraphs with subheadings?
- Have you stated your main point in the first couple sentences?
- Are you using a lot of industry jargon? (answer should be “no” here in most cases)
- Is the content conversational?
- Are you addressing the reader consistently and using the same voice?
- Is it interesting?
- Is the piece free of typos and grammatical errors? (hint: have someone else read it)
- Is there a clear call to action?
Writing great website copy is hard, don’t give up!
Most often people underestimate how much work and time goes into writing copy. Editing your content down to just the right few points with a great call to action to move users along their purchase path is challenging, and you’ll get out what you put into it. Want help writing your website copy? Give us a holler!