Website copy is the text that makes up your site. Ensuring it’s well written and well structured is important for making sales, encouraging users to remain on your site for longer, and climbing the ladder of search rankings. But what exactly is ‘good’ website copy, and how do you make sure you’re creating it?
Use headings and sub-headings
Headings and sub-headings help break up large chunks of text. That makes the whole page easier to read, and allows for skim-reading, contextualisation, and ease of understanding.
Studies show that 79% of users always scan a new web page, rather than reading it in full. They will pick out certain phrases and words to get the information required, and then move on, so it’s important to grab their attention. Headings and sub-headings that use keywords and phrases help users quickly find the information they need. If they can’t find it quickly, then won’t stick around to ready your 2,000-word page, they’ll simply move to a competitor’s site.
Headings and sub-headings also play an important part in SEO by helping search engines understand the content of a page.
Use headings effectively to structure your page. You’ll generally have a page title (H1), secondary titles (H2) to highlight the main topics, and tertiary headings (H3) to break down these larger topics.
Break down text into smaller chunks
Because users usually skim-read pages, they can more easily pick out required information if you use shorter sentences and paragraphs. A huge block of text is also overwhelming, so dividing it into smaller chunks ensures website visitors are less likely to navigate away from a scary-looking page!
Know your audience
Understanding your audience is vital for writing good website copy. If you write as if you’re talking to PhD’s, but your audience is mostly made up of people who didn’t go to university, then you’re not going to make many sales. Knowing your audience means understanding what they like, their age, their family situation, their hobbies, their pain points, and more. By understanding these, you can write copy that speaks to them, shows understanding, and is able to offer them what they need.
Emphasise benefits and results
When it comes to selling, a lot of website copy talks about features.
This phone has rear camera specs of 108MP (wide) + 10MP (periscope, 10x optical) + 10MP (telephoto, 3x optical) + 12MP (ultrawide, 120-degree).
To many people, this means absolutely nothing. But if you explain the benefits of such a camera, then suddenly it becomes a lot more relatable and desirable.
This phone camera has an amazing zoom function that captures clear images of distant objects. Its image stabilisation means you no longer have to worry about blurry and unfocussed photos. Take great photos, even in low light to capture special evening moments.
Focus on the end result for the customer, help them picture how this purchase will make things better for them, and you’re much more likely to make a sale.
Keep intent in mind
Why is a user on your website? Before writing copy, consider questions such as:
- What are they hoping to achieve by looking at this particular page?
- Are they ready to buy?
- Are they looking for information on a topic?
Answer these questions and you can write website copy that helps your users. And by helping your users, you build trust and increase the chance of making a sale either now or down the line.
Many users will land on your website by using search engines such as Google and Bing. They’ll type in a phrase (a keyword) and then click through to one or more of the websites that appear in the results.
By knowing what these search keywords are, you can incorporate them into your website copy. This will increase your chances of showing up in the search results, and help users pick out the information they are looking for.
There are a lot of websites out there and personality is one way they stand apart. Your brand might come across as bubbly, meticulous, highly formal, or relaxed. Personality can be anything, but make sure you share yours in your website copy so that you appeal to the right kind of audience.
When it comes to copy, personality comes from the words you use and the way you write. You can emphasise this through design and imagery, but consider carefully the phrases you use and how they come across.
There’s a lot of SEO advice out there about how long your page copy should be. But, ultimately, it should be as long as it needs to be. If you have a lot of information to share about a topic, then a longer piece may be necessary. But don’t keep writing for the sake of a word count. This kind of waffle is boring to read, delays users finding useful information, and can put customers off.
If you have a page with a very small amount of text (less than 300 words), then it’s certainly worth exploring whether there’s more information to add. Or you may think about combining one page with another similar page.
Stop if you are:
- Writing text for the sake of it
- No longer adding any useful or interesting information
- Repeating yourself
- Going off-topic
In the early days of SEO, search engines weren’t overly clever and text on a website was taken very literally. That meant you could practically list lots of keywords on your page and search engines would reward you with a high ranking.
However, Google and co. are now much cleverer and can better understand intention and context. While keywords are still useful to include, they should be incorporated naturally. If your text reads as if a robot has written it, then it won’t do well with either search engines or real users.
If you can’t find a way to incorporate a keyword naturally, then find another way of writing about the same subject.
For the keyword Windermere restaurant:
You might try writing:
Come and visit our Windermere restaurant,
It sounds a bit clunky and forced, doesn’t it? Instead try:
Come and visit our restaurant in Windermere.
Search engines are smart enough to understand that this means the same without you having to use the exact keyword.
Create a house style
A house style is a set of guidelines for writing copy for your brand, whether on your website or elsewhere. It’s particularly useful if you have more than one person writing for you, or if you outsource your copywriting. Even if you’re just a one-man-band, a house style will help you maintain focus and consistency across your writing.
Your house style should take into consideration your business personality, branding and audience. It can be quite detailed, including some common phrases that you may use on a regular basis.
Keep language simple
Though some brands will find it appropriate to use long, technical words, most will benefit more from using simpler language. Large, unfamiliar words can alienate your audience if they don’t understand them or find them hard to read. So if you can replace one word with something more widely known, it’s often better to do so.
Add a call to action
A call to action (CTA) asks users to do something. This could be anything from making a purchase, to signing up to a newsletter, to browsing your site further. So, while writing your copy, consider what steps you would like your user to take next, and include that as a CTA. Choose something appropriate based on user intent and the customer’s position in the sales funnel.
For example, a brand new user to your site isn’t likely to buy a high-value item when they are just currently looking for more information. So adding a ‘buy now’ CTA isn’t appropriate. Instead, direct them to a page with further relevant information to help them in the decision process.
Adding a CTA can be the difference between gaining a customer and losing it. Without, a user may think I’ll come back later, and then completely forget, or buy from a competitor. If they’ve found useful information on your page, though, and can immediately and easily take an action thanks to a carefully placed CTA, then you’re much more likely to convert them.
Check spelling and grammar
Websites littered with poor grammar and spelling mistakes come across as unprofessional at best, and untrustworthy at worst. If spelling and grammar isn’t your strong point, have someone else look over and correct any errors. You’ll make a much better first impression on your website visitors.
Before hitting publish, proof read your copy. As well as spelling and grammar, proof reading will help you tidy up the text, remove repeated information, and make any final adjustments.
It’s harder to proof read your own work, so if you can, ask someone to do it for you. If you don’t have anyone else available, put it aside for a day and proof read it again tomorrow. You’ll come to it with much fresher eyes and will be able to look at the text more objectively.
Good copy is important for making sales, gaining customers and maintaining website traffic. While each business will have different requirements, there are a number of good practices that will work across the board. Remember to write for your audience, structure the text so its easy to scan, and proof read all you’ve written.