What is website copywriting?
Website copywriting is all about getting your business found online.
Whether you’re writing category and product pages for Ecommerce, or writing blogs, guides and articles for the resource page of a B2B website.
Website copywriting should draw people in.
It should give them the information they need in an engaging way.
And yes, it should help you sell more of your products and services.
But writing copy for a website is a tough job.
Because you’re basically serving two masters.
Firstly, most importantly, you need to meet the needs of your readers.
They’re coming to your website because they need answers to their questions.
They want to buy something and want an easy shopping experience.
If your website copywriting fails to give them what they need, they’ll just go somewhere else.
Like all copywriting, website copywriting is about writing for people first.
But you’ve also got to satisfy the needs of Google and search engines (mostly Google)
Google is essentially the gatekeeper that stands between your website and your audience finding you when they search for information online.
This means you need to include some elements of SEO best practice in your content writing (always a sore point for a writer).
If you don’t hit the right SEO notes, Google won’t deem you relevant and will rank you way down the pecking order.
And you’ll never get found.
Your website copywriting will gather dust in the doldrums while your competition gets all the glory given to those who manage to climb onto the coveted spots of Page 1.
But what’s the secret to great website copywriting?
Carry on reading and we’ll tell you.
Write for your audience
Pick any 10 websites at random, read the content on the pages, and we’ll bet you’ll notice a key trend running across most of them.
They focus on the business behind the website.
They rally and cry about how great that business is.
How brilliant their products are.
And how great their service is.
Here’s the thing though. And this is tough to hear.
Any customers on your website really don’t care about your business.
They’re on your website because they have a problem, and they’re looking for a solution.
So the first thing to do to make your website copywriting instantly better, is focus on the pains and problems your potential customers are having, and create content that helps them overcome those problems.
Take this article as an example.
You’re looking to improve your website copywriting.
We could have written a big service page telling you how great our website copywriting services are and why you should buy them.
We could tell you you’ll never get our tips until you’ve paid us.
Instead you’re reading this article that will help you solve your website copywriting problem on your own.
If you want to hire us to write your content, great.
Here’s how to get in touch with us.
If you read this and are able to improve your own writing, then we’ve done our job.
There are other great websites that focus on solving problems rather than selling products.
Spend time crafting a killer headline
The single job of a headline is to grab attention and pull your audience in.
It should intrigue them just enough to make them interested and get an idea what an article is about, without giving everything away.
Arguably, the headline is the biggest factor which determines whether an article succeeds or fails.
Advertising great David Ogilvy once said that: “on average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”
You should try and think like a journalist when coming up with a headline for your article.
In fact, you should think like a journalist whenever you’re getting into the process of website copywriting.
Journalists are experts at writing content and headlines that grab attention.
Leaning on more advice from David Ogilvy, he said there were five things to do to make your headlines more appealing:
- Make it value centric
- Be specific
- Summarise the article’s content
- Be compelling
- Use sub-headings to break up the content
Headlines starting with “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, “Who” and “How” are also known to perform well – as are those with numbers.
Experiment with headlines starting with:
“What to do if…”
“Why you’re missing out on…”
“How to do…”
“13 tips to improve…”
Use short sentences
Short, snappy sentences make your copywriting much easier to read.
They also help keep your reader engaged.
They don’t have time to get bored because they’re moving quickly from one sentence to the other.
They’re especially useful when you’re writing about technical issues.
There’s nothing worse than trying to absorb technical, difficult information when it’s jammed together in a sentence the length of a novel.
According to research by writing expert Ann Wylie, when the average sentence length of an article is 14 words, readers understand more than 90% of what they’re reading.
There is obviously no “ideal” sentence length.
And it can be the case that loads of short sentences one after the other can become just as jarring and hard to read as longer sentences.
But for the most part, keep your sentences short, snappy and easy to understand for your readers.
Use limited jargon in your website copywriting
Speaking of keeping things easy to understand for your readers.
Whatever industry you work in, you will have industry jargon that you’ll understand just because you hear it all the time.
But don’t make the mistakes of thinking your audience understands it.
They won’t be impressed with your constant use of technical words, they just won’t have a clue what you’re on about.
Jargon can be used as a tool to reassure your readers that you speak and understand their language.
This can be important if you’re selling technical products or services.
But use jargon sparingly and only when it is well known jargon.
The late Christopher Hitchens once described how he wrote for his audience like he was writing for an intelligent, witty friend.
When I was a journalist the aim was to write so that an intelligent 10 year old could follow what you were writing about.
Remember, the aim isn’t to dazzle your audience with your knowledge of the English language or technical know-how.
It’s to give them useful information in as clear, concise, dare we say entertaining way, as possible.
Structure your website copy around a story format
Look at any Hollywood blockbuster or TV series, and you’ll quickly identify a similar structure to most stories.
You start with a hero.
They have a problem (usually a villain).
They struggle to overcome the problem in the beginning.
They need a solution to overcome the problem.
They find the solution, usually in the form of a guide or mentor.
They learn something new and eventually overcome the problem.
Not in movies or TV.
In everyday business. Even just everyday life.
You have a problem and you need help getting over it.
Your website copywriting should paint your audience as that hero in the story.
Start by highlighting the problem they’re facing.
Introduce the solutions to the problem.
Show them how they can use the solution to solve their problem.
Within all that, you can demonstrate why they should choose you as the provider of the product or service they need.
A lot of website copy fails because it doesn’t follow a structure.
It jumps from one thing to another.
Ultimately leaving the reader confused.
If you’re struggling to structure your content, start by writing an outline of the content and the points you’ll include.
Most people don’t read every article on the web word by word.
They look for bits they think they’ll find useful and they gravitate towards those.
Help them do this by using subheadings to break your copy up into smaller chunks.
If you’re writing a particularly long piece of website content, you can help further by including a table of contents at the top of the content, allowing your readers to jump back and forth between sections and navigate back to the top of the page once they complete a section.
Do your keyword research
We had to get to some technical SEO at some point.
This is the bit when you’re giving Google what it needs.
Love it or hate it, if you want your content to get ranked and found organically online, you have to structure it around some keyword research.
And make sure your keywords are relevant.
Part of this comes down to user expectations.
If you’re vague with your keywords, or target a high volume keyword that isn’t relevant just to drive more traffic, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
Also, make sure you have a good mix of long and short tail keywords to use in your content.
Your short tail keywords will have higher search volume – but they’ll also have much higher competition.
If you’re a small website you’re going to struggle to outrank bigger, more authoritative websites for the same keywords.
But you could find longer tail keywords, which will have less volume, but also less competition and higher conversion rates.
Considering most people search using long tail keyword searches, these could be the best option.
There’s plenty of keyword planner tools available for you to use.
Understand search intent
Search intent is a big factor for SEO.
It is essentially understanding what kind of content your audience is expecting to find when they make a search.
By thinking about search intent, you can start to match your content to those needs and make sure you have website content that matches any searches your audience could make.
Think of it this way.
Let’s say you run an Ecommerce website selling running gear.
If a user types the search “best running shoes for a marathon” they are likely looking for some product recommendations.
In which case a Top 10 list of specific running shoes would work.
If they type “how to prevent injury during a marathon” they’re not looking for a list of shoes that could prevent injury.
They’re looking for more broad advice.
Website copywriting isn’t about creating a load of different blogs and guides in isolation.
You can improve your copywriting and SEO by linking from articles to other relevant articles that your audience might find useful.
This has a couple of benefits.
First, it keeps your reader on your website for longer.
If your audience is looking for help with their PPC strategy and they’re reading your guide to better PPC results, they might also be interested in your blog on writing better Facebook ads – so link to it.
Secondly, internal links help Google and search engines understand the structure of your website.
This keyword clustering strategy can help to improve the overall SEO of your website as well as improve your copywriting.
Outsource to a website copywriting agency
You might have the resources in-house to take the tips in this article and start to implement them yourself.
If that’s the case, great.
But sometimes, you just don’t have the internal resources, or you need to top your copywriting team in the short term.
In these cases, hiring a copywriting agency to take over the creation and editing of your website content could be the answer.
Oftentimes copywriting agencies work closely with SEO agencies so they can help you with your keyword research if you need it.
Otherwise, if they’re any good, a copywriting agency can take your existing keyword research and create content for you that hits the brief.
Why is website copywriting important?
Maybe you’ve read this and are wondering, why does all this copywriting even matter?
Perhaps you feel like it’s a lot of effort to create all this content and aren’t sure you’ll actually see results.
The fact is, if you don’t get your website copywriting right, then you won’t see results.
At a time when everyone is “doing content marketing” you need to create content for your website that will stand out.
By investing in content creation for your website you will get found online by your customers when they search for information on Google.
Why is that important?
Because it’s free.
Ultimately, organic search is the cheapest, most cost effective way to grow your audience online.