How to write better website copy
Your website is your online shop – a place where you can promote your products and services and show your new and potential customers why they should buy from you instead of someone else.
Unfortunately, too many people rush their website copy, treating it as an afterthought and not thinking about their readers when they write.
You might think that because you don’t get many website visitors, the copy doesn’t matter too much. But what if the visitors you do get are put off because:
- You don’t make it clear who you help or how
- You talk about yourself and not your customers
- Your copy is dull as dishwater and doesn’t inspire action
In this video and the article below, I’m sharing some of my tips on how to make your website copy count.
Don’t waste your opening line
“Welcome to our website”
“Welcome to <company name>”
If the first line on your home page reads something like the above, change it today.
It’s a nice sentiment – perfectly pleasant. But it’s also a wasted opportunity.
When a potential customer lands on your home page, they want to know whether you offer what they need. They don’t want to search for the answer. They want you to tell them straight away.
So rather than welcoming people to your website, tell them what you do, who you help or why they should hang around.
“Delicious cakes delivered to your door”
“Accountancy services for busy salon owners”
“Guaranteed ROI or your money back”
These are all far better openers than a welcome message that tells readers absolutely nothing about you.
Talk directly to the reader
It’s impossible to appeal to everyone because we all have different tastes. You can’t write in a way that everyone will relate to, and if you try, you can end up diluting your message.
Picture your ideal or favourite customer or client as you write and write as though you are talking directly to them.
Opening with a question or a couple of questions can be a great way of ‘starting a conversation’. Identify a problem they might be having or a need they might have.
“Do you need help with your sales copy or content marketing? Maybe you’re building a new website and need help planning the copy? Perhaps you want ideas for blog content or advice on social media posts? Or maybe you’d like to learn a few copywriting techniques?”
By asking questions, you’re helping your readers figure out whether they are in the right place. And if they are, they’ll keep on reading.
Use language they will relate to, avoid jargon and acronyms – if someone has to Google half the words you use to understand what you’re talking about, they’ll lose interest pretty quickly.
Don’t ‘we’ on people
Some people have a weird tendency to talk extensively about themselves on their website:
“We have over ten years of industry experience and we are passionate about what we do. We offer a wide range of services, and we can tailor our support to suit the needs of any business. We are friendly, reliable and professional. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent service.”
We. We. We.
I refer to this as we-ing on people, and the problem with it is that it’s boring for the reader.
Your website visitors don’t want to hear about you. They want to hear about what you can do for them. So stop talking about yourself and start talking about the reader instead.
And in case you were wondering, this totally applies to the use of the word “I” just as much:
“I am a qualified X. I have over ten years of industry experience. I am passionate…”
I don’t care, and nor do your readers.
Because despite what McFly said, it’s not all about you.
Keep your copy clear and concise
Your website visitors are busy people, and they don’t want to waste time searching for information. Make it easy for them to navigate your website and find what they are looking for.
Think about each page – what needs to be on there? What questions would readers have about your products or services? What concerns would they have about buying?
Ensure the most important information stands out – don’t hide it. Make your pages scannable by including subheadings or clearly labelled text boxes, so that readers can find what they are looking for quickly.
Include frequently asked questions and testimonials on the pages they are relevant to so readers don’t have to hunt your site for them.
And edit ruthlessly.
Cut unnecessary words and phrases to make your copy as concise as possible.
The example below shows how a little bit of editing can reduce your word count and improve your copy at the same time.
There is nothing terribly wrong with the first version, but the second version is far more appealing. Not only is it shorter in length, but it gets the points across more concisely and it sounds more confident and assertive.
Don’t rush to get your copy live. Take time to go through it and remove any waffle, repetition and unnecessary words. I always recommend leaving at least 24 hours between writing and editing so you can come back to your copy with fresh eyes.
Tell readers what to do
Readers expect you to tell them what the next step is, so don’t leave them guessing. Make sure every page has a call to action.
If your reader reaches the end of a page and there is no call to action, you’re putting the responsibility on them to make a decision. Should they call you? Email you? Hunt your website for a contact form? Search for your Facebook page?
People like getting clear instructions as it makes life easier – they don’t have to figure it out themselves and are less likely to make the wrong choice.
So tell people what to do next.
Make your call to action assertive. Put a verb at the beginning – an action word.
Instead of “If you like our content, subscribe to our newsletter”, try, “Subscribe to our newsletter for more great content.”
Instead of “Our new brochure is available to download here,” try, “Download our new brochure here.”
And make it as easy as possible for people to take that action. If you want them to follow a link, include a clickable link or button. If you want them to call you, make sure your number is there in front of them. If you want them to give you money, add a payment portal.
The easier it is to take action, the more likely readers are to take it.
The best thing about website copy is you can take time to plan, write, edit and proofread to make sure it says exactly what you want in the exact way you want to say it. Plus, you can update it as and when things change with your business.
Think of it like a house. You don’t move into a new house and keep it the same forever. You decorate, redecorate, update the carpets and change the furniture – you might even remodel, add an extension or convert the loft.
It should be the same with your website. Maintain and ‘redecorate’ it to stop it from getting old, tired and outdated.
Change the layout, test different call to actions, tweak the copy, add new testimonials and update your blog. You can do it a ‘room’ (page) at a time or all at once. But keep reviewing your site regularly to make sure it’s accurate, up to date and looking good for your visitors.
Your business doesn’t ever stay the same, nor should your website – think of it as a work in progress.
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