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8 top tips to help you write great website copy

It is essential that you get the copy on your website right if you want it to benefit your company. Relevant, useful, and engaging copy helps drive website traffic and conversions – something all businesses with an online presence should have an interest in. But how do you write great copy if you’re not a copywriter?

Here are a few top tips that will help you stand out against the competition:

1. Tone of voice

You need to figure out what your brand’s tone of voice is, and then use it consistently across your website. Should your company sound professional and trustworthy? Chatty and casual? Warm and friendly? There’s no one right answer – getting it right means talking to your audience in a way that resonates with them. For example, an older audience may respond better to more traditional word choices and a professional tone. Your website’s copy is your company’s voice. So it’s worth taking the time to write it properly.

One important tool in keeping your copy consistent is a ‘style guide’. This document can be built in-house, and should contain all of your brand’s copy guidelines. This should include directions on how to create a certain tone of voice (for instance, to sound casual, you should always use contractions like “it’s” and “you’re” – but to sound professional, you should spell these phrases out “it is” and “you are”). It should also include an approved lexicon that brings readers back to key points about your product or service (a chocolatier might refer to staff members as “sweet” or “nutty” – powerful descriptive terms about their character, but also a clap-back to the product they sell). It should also include a technical section where it addresses grammar (do you use the Oxford comma?) and ambiguous spelling (is it adviser or advisor?). 

2. Keep your copy simple

You should keep your copy simple, easy to read and try to make it engaging. Not everyone who enters your website will be able to understand your products or service. It is, therefore, important not to create an additional barrier to understanding by using complicated jargon. Your copy needs to make your product or service easier to understand, not harder. In order to captivate the audience and create website conversions, it is important to consider the language you’re using. What’s your audience’s reading level? If you’re pitching your company to doctors or accountants, then you don’t need to worry about using more complex words. But if your website is advertising unskilled labouring jobs to people who speak English as a second language, you need to spend much more time making sure that your choice of vocabulary isn’t alienating your target audience. A good way to find your copy’s vocabulary is to think it through  from the reader’s perspective. What will someone who has never heard of your company be able to understand?

3. Keep it short and make it relevant

Most people don’t want to search through loads of information for “the good bits”, and making them read lots of text might cause them to bounce off your website. So, unless your audience is one that loves long copy (for example, academics, publishing houses, and writers) do your brand a favour by trimming it down.

4. Structure is key

The structure of text on your webpages is also important for keeping your content concise. Large amounts of information structured incorrectly can put users off, and prevent them from reading your content. Engaging headers are important as they will direct the user to the information they’re looking for. Headers are the first thing a website user will see so it is important to think them through. Make sure you consider the correct font and font size on your website so that your copy is clear and easy to read. Better structure results in an easier read – an important factor when trying to maximise your readership.

5. Copy with authority

If you want to imbue your copy with authority, creating a website that your audience trusts to provide honest information, consider using statistics, quotes, and other data on your website. These can be used to talk about the benefits of your product or service, or to discuss why your reader should become (or continue to be) your customer. Make sure all the information you release is factual, correct, and not misleading (in other words, if you want your customers to trust you, actually be trustworthy). Trust is important – if your customers don’t trust you, they won’t use your website and won’t provide you with any of their personal data, meaning you won’t be converting them. However, if your copy is honest and reliable, your readers could be more inclined to subscribe to your mailing list, or even make a purchase.

6. Information musts

What other information should you include when writing copy for your website? One good plan is to focus on your audience’s issues and how you can solve them. Once you know your customers really well, and you know what they want, you can begin to sell your product in a way that they will find more appealing.

  • Think about your company’s unique selling points (USP’s). Maybe you have ethical and sustainable products? Or you offer free shipping? Remember to keep it short, concise and relevant. You should only focus on the main points.

  • You can help your readers to engage with your copy by asking questions. If I write “do you think this strategy could work with your audience?” it makes the copy about the reader, and invites them to participate in finding solutions for their problems. 

  • Your content should be persuasive but it shouldn’t be pushy. Pushy and forceful language will make you seem untrustworthy and will prevent readers from engaging with your website. You don’t want your customers to feel uncomfortable, and if they do, it will almost certainly have a knock-on effect for your business.

  • You can break up the text on your website by adding some imagery. Assuming you pick strong imagery that is in-line with your brand, and lay it out correctly on your web pages, this can create a more visually engaging context for your words to be read in, and, in some cases, can be used to convey messages on its own. For example, what words could you use to convey motherly love that are better than an image of a new mother cuddling her baby? An important element in writing good copy is understanding what messages are better said with pictures than words.

7. Competitors

Another way to get ideas for content is to look at what your competitors are posting on their websites. You can learn to replicate what they do well, and avoid what they do badly. This kind of research and analysis can also be useful in identifying the trends and patterns in your industry, providing you with a variety of topics to write about. This can help you to stay relevant, and position yourself favourably against your competitors.

8. Review regularly

Reviewing your own content regularly, learning what works and what doesn’t, can benefit your company massively. You can see what’s effective by looking at the analytics of each page on your website. Bounce rates can indicate specific pages that aren’t working. You should re-work any pages with high bounce rates, test the new versions and identify what difference these changes make to the user journey. Does your content lack structure or cause confusion? If you can’t tell when you read a page yourself, analytics can help . You can also use analytic services to keep on top of current trends in your industry, a vital part of keeping your business relevant. You can try out different approaches and measure the success of these methods through analytic tools.

There are many tools that can help you write good copy. Here are a few we suggest:
  • Buzzsumo can be used for content research. It looks at the most engaging content for social and search.

  • Uber Suggest can be used for keyword research. It generates key words that improve and expand your content marketing strategy.

  • Google analytics is an analytical tool that looks at the data of your website’s user journey. You can evaluate what is working and what isn’t on google analytics.

  • Quora is another tool that can help to keep you in touch with your audience so you can better understand who they are and  focus your copy on them.

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