Last Updated on July 1, 2021
It’s not easy writing your own copy. Talk to any web designer, and they’ll tell you that their number one issue is how long it takes to get website content from a client. Even professionals can suffer from writer’s block, false starts or constant revisions. I write all of my own web copy so I know the struggle is real. We sit staring at a blank screen, trying to order our thoughts, often putting the work on hold until we have more time, energy, or clarity around our thinking.
Except, clarity only comes with the hard work of writing those initial thoughts and then re-writing until you’re confident that you’ve clearly communicated your message.
So, to help you with your copywriting endeavours, I’ve put together this short guideline with some helpful website content writing tips.
Start by Working out your Page Names / Menu Items
Most websites have very similar page names, as conventions have developed so that everyone visiting a website knows very quickly what a page is probably going to be about. My advice would be to stick to those conventions – they work. The most common page names are:
- Home – Introduces the visitor to your business and has short cuts to your most important information
- About – A page you can expand on your company information
- Services – The services you offer
- Products – The products you offer
- Gallery or Portfolio – Somewhere to showcase your work visually
- Case Studies – Sucess stories from your clients
- Testimonials – Positive things your clients say about you
- News – Latest news and updates or a blog
- Contact – How to get in touch with you, your social media channels, and a basic enquiry form
Next, Create a Word or Google Doc for Each Page
It’s so much easier to work in a contained way – when you just have to write the services page, or the about page. So start with whatever page you find the easiest. Doing the easiest page first will get your creative juices flowing and you can then take on the harder pages.
Now, Create an Outline for Each Page
Remember back in High School when they told us our essays had to have a beginning, a middle and an end? Web pages are the same, and the best way to achieve that is with an outline.
I know, that sounds like more work, and it’s tempting to jump into writing straight away – I’m very guilty of doing that myself. The problem with this method is that it takes so much longer to get to the level of clarity you need to communicate succinctly and clearly
A content outline can be as simple as five or six bullet points at the top of each page – they could be your headings or key ideas or ‘takeaways’ you want to include.
Invest in something like Grammarly – I used it for free for a long time, and then finally realised, I couldn’t live without it and got the premium version. If you are tempted to ‘free flow’ your writing directly into your blog, page or social media post, you absolutely need Grammarly. There is also a business version that creates a style guide for all of your staff.
Answer Who, What, When, Where, Why, How?
Often called the 5 W’s (and sometimes one H), this is a technique used by good journalists when covering a story. The 5W’s have many other applications as well – they can be used in research and project management. They have a long history which you can read about here.
When applied to website content writing you can use the technique to make sure you fully anwer:
- Who you are (business, individual etc)
- What it is that you do
- When you do it
- Where you do it
- Why you do it (this can be a longer statement about your purpose)
- How you do it – what makes you different from everyone else in the same business
You can reverse these questions and make them about your potential customers. Who are your customers (target audience), what is it that they want, when do they want it, why do they want it, and so on.
Work out your unique selling position (UPS)
A ‘unique selling position’ is a marketing term used to describe the specific qualities your business has that sets you apart from your competition. For example, your USP could be the personalised service you offer, your long history of being in business, the speed of your delivery, your investment in technology or tools, or the depth of your industry knowledge.
Identify the problems or challenges your potential customers are looking to solve. Then emphasise and reinforce throughout the website how you can solve their specific problems, for example, a plumber might be very specific in mentioning that they fix leaky taps.
Address your Customers Fears and Concerns
Buying a product or service comes with a specific set of fears or uncertainties; and people are very aware of the risks they run by choosing the wrong business. Address these fears head on. You can do this by:
- Outlining the qualifications your team has
- Stating the experience the staff have
- Displaying any logos of trade organisations or professional associations you belong to
- Specify the guarantees and refunds you offer (especially anything that goes beyond what you are legally compelled to offer)
- Have client testimonials on the website, as these really help with the overall credibility of your website
- To use the plumber example again, the plumber could address the concern that tradespeople never turn up or don’t turn up on time by stating quite clearly that “we’ll turn up when we say we will”.
Answer Frequently Asked Questions
What are the questions you’re always asked by prospective customers? Write them down and your answers to them. You can then include this content as an FAQ (frequently asked questions) section, or you can simply include the answers throughout your writing. As an example, a plumber might write something like ‘yes, in case you are wondering, we will just fix a leaky tap.’
Anticipating people’s questions and answering them is an extremely powerful and persuasive way to convince people you are the right business to work with.
Be consistent and clear with your message
Reinforce the key messages you want to get across and avoid being ambiguous or vague. If people can’t understand what you are offering they won’t buy from you.
Keep your writing simple
The wider your target audience the simpler you should make your writing. It should be straight forward, readable, and easy to understand. The fewer syllables you use the better.
Maintain the same tone of writing
Be consistent with the language and tone of writing you use on your website. For example, don’t go from personal and friendly writing to formal writing.
Include a call to action
A call to action is simply asking a website visitor to do something. It could be to ring you on your phone number, send you an email, complete an enquiry form or join your mailing list. At its most basic, you simply need to write ‘contact us today to learn more’.
Check out the competition
Have a good look at what your competitors are saying on their websites, as this is who you will be compared to. You will need to match their content if you do the same level of service, but obviously, emphasise how you do it differently. You can certainly take inspiration from other sites, but never feel tempted to copy their content!
Key takeaways you should know:
- Put the most important information at the top of the website
- People skim-read websites, so make your content easy to read by using short paragraphs, and informative headings to separate content sections
- Use bullet points to emphasise key areas about your business, but keep the bullet points to 7 items or less
- Keep sentences short and to the point, if you can do so without losing context.