Writing good quality website copy is essential to keeping your site out of the internet abyss and in front of potential clients
We’re inundated constantly with websites. How many do you really read? How many times have you skimmed over one just looking for the tidbit of information you’re after? The fact of the matter is that you’ve got 15 seconds or less to capture the attention of the viewer. Good website copy is an essential key to snaring those potential clients and making them customers.
The whole point of your website copy is to keep the attention of the visitor, and to get them to read the next sentence. That’s it. Skillfully done, your copy will lead them down the path to becoming a client, not just a casual observer.
Professional copywriters exist to generate quality content and copy and they are worth every penny. That being said, if you have even the most basic writing skills and follow some simple website copy fundamentals, you too can create great website copy that will connect with your readers.
We’re fairly visual creatures and a gorgeous looking website is incredibly helpful to attracting potential clients. However, without some good quality website copy, there’s nothing to keep visitors there and guide them towards whatever it is you’re offering.
If someone has found your site, they’re likely looking for a solution to a problem. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout the whole writing process and to tailor your copywriting specifically to them. Your instinct may be to tell them all about how awesome you are, and how awesome your business is and what wonderful features it has.
As tempting as that is, It won’t speak to them. You need to turn those features into benefits.
“Our thingamajig is the best thingamajig on the planet.”
“Our thingamajig will save you time and free you up to do the things you love.”
They only care about what’s in it for them, how you can solve their particular problem, and you have to write your copy accordingly. It’s great that your business is awesome, but how will it benefit them? Spell it out how your particular product or service will take care of the exact problem they have.
There are a few basic principles to writing good website copy that professionals typically stick to. Not only does it work, but doing so reduces it to a simple, manageable formula which makes the whole process a lot easier for you, should you try it yourself. Here at Virtualcopia, we have conveniently built out some templates for you to simply plug your website copy into. It doesn’t have to be rocket science; in fact oftentimes the simpler it is the better.
For example–I love the simplicity of Home Depots’ tagline: “You can build it. We can help.”
In only seven words it recognizes the pain points of their customers (people who want to build or repair something but are maybe a little light on the knowledge of how to do it), and succinctly solves it, by affirming that they can help the customer achieve it. It completes the dream for the customer and makes them feel good about themselves.
Keep it casual
The tone of good website copy is different from other types of writing–it shouldn’t read like a book or a magazine article. Imagine you’re having a casual conversation with a friend. You might be inclined to use big words or acronyms to show off how brilliant you are, but that can actually have the opposite effect and turn some potential clients off. Make it simple, straightforward, and easily readable.
Obviously the website copy tone should be tailored to each individual client, so there will be some variation depending on your intended audience. For example: if you’re writing for a lawyer you’ll likely use a much more formal tone than say, an ice cream shop.
Even so, it should be written in bite sized, easy to read pieces. Paragraphs should not contain more than three or four sentences at most. This runs against a lot of conventional wisdom, but such is the life of a modern website. If a client doesn’t see what they want or isn’t hooked within 15 seconds, they’re off to find a site that will scratch their particular itch.
A great way to get ideas, and something most good copywriters do regularly, is to look at your competition’s websites. What do their sites look like? How is it written? Note the things you love and things you hate. Also note how early in the search they showed up, or how far down the list of sites they were. Without a solid SEO strategy it’s almost impossible to find some sites.
Writing good website copy is a whole lot easier if you break it down into manageable steps. A typical homepage structure might be:
- Testimonials from current or former clients
- Final CTA
Think of your homepage as an inverted triangle of importance, with the headline at the top having the most effect on your SEO and ability to retain an audience, and your subheader and standard text being less and less critical.
By far the most important part of good quality website copy is the headline. I cannot stress this enough. It will be the first thing any visitor to your site will see, and if it doesn’t grab their attention, it will also be the last. Google algorithms give extra weight to the headlines, so you need to make sure they distill down and capture the very essence of what you can do for the client. If there’s one thing you put the most thought into your website copy it should be the headline.
Subheaders also factor heavily into website copy algorithms, and so on down to the general text. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the basic text–quite the opposite. If your headline and subheads have gotten them this far, it’s time to snare them with your solution.
As a newer business, you may not have anyone to sing your praises yet, although if you do, you’ll want to put one or two in the thick of the homepage. Don’t be afraid to ask past clients or even friends you’ve maybe done some free work for if they could say a couple of nice things about what you did for them. It can be a nerve-wracking and difficult task for some of us to ask that of people, but it will lend credibility to your business and will help show potential clients how awesome you are in the words of someone other than yourself.
Often there are specific services you want to highlight. On the homepage, keep it short and sweet. You can go in depth on a linked page, but for here you just want a sentence or three that hit the core of what is offered. Again: solve your potential client’s problems. Soothe their nerves and assure them they’re in the right place. Boil it down to the essence of each service and show how those features will directly benefit them.
What sets you apart from your competitors? Out of all of the similar businesses, why should they pick you? This is your time to shine and tell them all the reasons why you’re the one. Like services, keep it succinct.
Call to action (CTA)
While it’s technically more of a design thing, make sure that you have prominent Call To Action buttons available throughout your website copy. If you’ve gotten them interested to the point where they want to dig deeper, they shouldn’t have to search all over your site to find a way to do that.
There should definitely be a CTA placed at the very top and very bottom of your site, and depending how much copy you end up with, they should be sprinkled here and there throughout. Be careful not to overdo it, though, it should seem organic. In good quality website copy you should never have to hunt for a CTA.
Remember, the point of all of this is to keep funneling them down to engage with your business and eventually click that CTA and become a client.
About the About Page
If you’ve almost gotten the potential client to the point of commitment, the last thing to push them over the edge could be the about page. They will likely click on it to see if your values, purpose, and mission resonate and align with their own.
You can be brief or expansive here, and while it’s not strictly necessary, a lot of people like to share some personal notes about themselves. I would keep that fairly light, and definitely don’t give away too many personal details, though sharing something about yourself can give a more personal feel and help connect with the human on the other end.
Here is where you can also share your education, experience in the field, or any accolades you may have acquired along the way.
Remember–you are not writing the great American novel. You are capturing attention and attempting to turn a potential client into a paying one. It’s important to remember that when trying to write some good website copy. Website copy is entirely its own style of writing, but if you keep it simple and speak to the client and their particular problems and how you’ll solve them, you’ll have website copy that will connect, engage, and make your business a success. You can do it—good website copy can help.
Matthew Ogden is a Minneapolis-based copywriter and content writer and editor. He’s written for national retailers and lobster roll companies alike. When not writing he can be found nose deep in a book, writing and performing music, or nerding out about guitar tone.