8 Website Copywriting Best Practices
Creating beautiful and delightful website copy is an excellent way to ensure you're standing out online and to attract your ideal client. In this article, I dig into 8 best practices for building effective website copy - tips that you can take action on TODAY.
In today's oversaturated online world, cutting through the noise to stand out is one of the biggest concerns for marketers, not to mention small businesses trying to develop their brand awareness online. In pretty much every domain and industry the online space is crammed with the competition... So how do you stand out?
With your beautiful website of course!
Your website is your PERFECT opportunity to make an excellent first impression.
You want to ensure that every single visitor to your site is left with a positive experience. Think of your website as the vestibule for your company; the space where prospects enter and hopefully are so intrigued that they come on in and stay for a while.
While the visual elements of a website are just as important, I put much more emphasis on the copy. Why? Because it's your copy that has the opportunity to make your audience feel that they're truly being spoken to.
What do I mean by this? If you've done research, defined your audience, and know exactly who you are writing to, then you have an opportunity to use your website to tell your visitors about you, your brand and your offering in an engaging way that will speak directly to their interests and even address their pain points.
So let's make sure that website of yours is making the first impression you want for your business! Here are 8 of my best practices when it comes to writing website copy of your dreams.
1. Before You Do ANYTHING... Define Who You Are Writing to
Hopefully, by now you've defined your target audience, but if you haven't then pause and do that first!
Not taking the time to define your audience before building out your website copy means you have written an entire site for.. who?
Instead, the goal is to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is because then you can create copy that speaks directly to them and to the problems they may be facing. One of the most effective ways to define this is to break your target audience into target personas.
Hold up Lauren... what are target personas? Essentially, they're 'people' you invent to symbolize segments of your target audience. Check out this excellent Hubspot guide on how to build out your target personas.
Ultimately, you want to understand who you are writing to so you can appeal to them and write to their problems in your web copy, and even get ideas of content to build out on your social media and blog... but that's a topic for another day!
2. Make It Abundantly Clear What Makes You YOU
Nothing makes consumers more frustrated than when, upon perusing your website, they're met with the feeling that they still have absolutely NO idea what you do or what you offer. Additionally, it's hard to leave a lasting impression when you haven't spelled out what makes you unique from the competition.
The best way to combat these pitfalls is to get eyes on your copy before you publish it.
Gather all key stakeholders for your brand and brainstorm what makes you unique. What values drive your brand? What is your purpose? What is your why? Why does your business exist?
A great way to let site visitors know more about you is to tell a brand story about who you are as a company (or individual) and how you got to be where you are. The goal is to be a humanized brand, and the best way to do that is to be relatable and to tell a story with your copy.
Not sharing this side of your business makes it hard to leave a lasting impression with visitors. They don't know who you are, or how you started. For all they know, you're a company operated behind the scenes by a bunch of robots! Maybe you are a company operated by robots... which quite frankly is AWESOME and you should probably be still telling us about your lovely robots on your website!
Discover what makes you and your brand unique and share that on your website! Once you begin to figure this out, you can build that into key messages to include within your website copy.
3. Champion a Positive User Experience
By now, you're probably so sick of hearing me talk about the importance of championing a positive user experience.... but to be honest, I cannot say this enough!
Why? Because I've been on both sides. I've been the one building a website and the one consuming a website. Having a strong site architecture and a positive user experience makes a world of difference when it comes to how effectively your website will communicate your message to your target audience... but also to someone else.
Google. That's who. That big-all-powerful entity that we are ALL trying to please.
Ensuring a positive user experience is an incredibly powerful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactic.
When Google determines how to rank content for a particular query, it looks at an array of things. Google wants to serve the results that are most relevant to the searcher's intent, while also providing the searcher with the best user experience.
What does it look at? Many things. But here are two that I'll highlight for you now:
- The architecture of your website: ensure that your pages all link to one another in a clear and cohesive way. When you mention a fact in a blog post that you've written another post on, link to it. Include internal links smartly throughout your site. Pay attention to the anchor text here and ensure you optimize it. Why? Because if you include a link to one of your other pages multiple times on a page, Google will only consider the anchor text of the first time you mention it, so ensure you're making a good impression!
- The speed of your website: Google takes site speed into immense consideration when they are serving search results pages (SERP)s to their searchers. Recently, Google moved to mobile-first indexing, meaning you should actually be focusing on optimizing your site for mobile and mobile speed prior to desktop.
Curious what your website page speed is? Head on over to Google's PageSpeed Insights tool, where you simply enter your website URL and can analyze both your mobile and desktop speeds. The tool will tell you how you're doing with page speed in comparison with recommended speeds. It will also give you clear solutions as to how to improve your page speed. Now, some of these may get technical, so consider getting the help of your developer when implementing site speed fixes.
4. Entice Your Audience to Continue Reading...
Headlines, free downloads, case studies and statistics are all excellent ways to entice your audience to read more of your website and quite frankly, to keep them engaged and stay on your site for longer session durations.
Breaking up your ideas into headings makes it easier for your audience to consume ideas.
By making your content more readable in this way, your audience is more likely to stay and not bounce from your page. If they're instead met with a wall of text, it's likely you'll lose them.
Attention spans are lower than they've ever been before, especially in this digital age. So make it as easy as possible to keep your audience's attention
Directing site visitors to fill in a form where you collect their information in exchange for valuable resources also is a great way to collect information from site visitors with their consent so that you can return back to them with other valuable content down the line that you think they'll enjoy.
However, anytime you tease anything like this...
5. ... Back up Those Enticements With Real Value
Nothing is worse than when I fill in a website form with the promise of getting some awesome resource and am instead delivered something sub-par and merely promotional.
Promotional marketing is no longer enough. And quite frankly, if that's all you have to offer, you're on a sinking ship. But don't panic... there's a very easy and clear solution! Value.
Value-based marketing is the present and the future. Some are still in denial, and still spam their subscribers with sales-related content.
Now, don't get me wrong. Of course, you still need to send promotional and sales content. But this shouldn't be your focus anymore. No. Instead, it should be about providing value so consistently that you develop the know, like & trust factor with your audience.
6. Be Concise and Clear
Strive to be as concise as possible in your copy, while still including all relevant information and keywords. This may sound tough, but what I mean is to ensure you have all the key information out there and are not distracting from it with too much fluffy text.
When drafting your website copy, first open a word processor or Google document. Write down EVERYTHING you want to include in your copy... no holds barred.
Get all your ideas out. Then take a moment and go through omitting anything that isn't needed.
Now, pass the copy around to the rest of your team. A solo-entrepreneur? Ask someone you know and trust (who knows you well) to give it a glance! Or even ask a networking contact for their feedback.
Ultimately, get as many eyes on it as you can.
Be open to their feedback. Pride won't serve you here... it's all about being humble and being willing to accept the feedback. Because it will only make your website copy stronger.
The more concise and clear it is the better for you, your audience and your SEO. So why not?
7. Optimize for Keywords
This post is not about SEO or keyword research, so I'll keep this section brief. However, by now you're probably asking, where do my keywords fit into all of this?
Ensure your copy naturally includes your keywords. Also, include semantically related keywords. Do NOT merely stuff these keywords in, but find ways to talk about them in a relevant and clear way.
Then, generate content that relates to these keywords to continue to build your authority around them.
One of the best ways to think about this is in Hubspot's framework of building pillar pages.
8. Guide Visitors to Next Actions
Including internal links and some calls to action (CTA)s within your website copy effectively guides your audience where to go and what you want them to do next.
Once they finish reading your about page, where do you want to drive them next? If they've read 3 blog posts, is it worth adding a pop-up for them to subscribe to your blog? If you don't point them in the next direction, then they'll likely leave!
Always be keeping in mind a roadmap of where you want to guide them next.
I'd like to reiterate here that these are just a few of many best practices when building and designing your website copy. Above all, ensure that you are being clear, consistent and writing intentionally for your audience.
At the end of the day, if you build a website designed to delight your audience, you're on the right track!
And of course, by now you know how I love to write website copy! If you need a hand or have any questions at all, feel free to contact me or reach out to me on social!
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Click here to head over to the original publication of this post, 8 Best Practices for Website Copywriting Perfection, from Lauren Osselton Marketing Services.