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5 Steps to writing website content that works

by | blogging, marketing, seo

I’m regularly asked for advice about writing for websites. Whilst design is important and decent photography is a must, it won’t add up to much without interesting, engaging and relevant content.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a few pointers on how to write words that will sparkle, that will hold your customers’ attention and that will work hard for your business.

So, here are my 5 Steps to writing website content that works..

5 Steps to writing web content that works - sm web designs UK

1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

 

No, really! You need to stop writing about what you want to write about and think about how you can best meet your customers’ needs. They are quite often two different things.

If you’re very close to your business, it’s sometimes impossible to be truly objective. Why not approach a friendly customer or two (and pay them if you need to)? Ask them if the words on your website are clear and tell them what they need to know, quickly enough. What do they like or dislike? Are there any terms or jargon they simply don’t understand?

Or ask an independent person to review your website for you – book a free, 30-minute consultation call with me. Bear in mind your website content might be lacking certain information, so you could uncover valuable, new content ideas this way.

Keep up-to-date on your market too. What are your competitors saying? If you find a writing style you like, you could always replicate it (using different words) on your own website.

Free SEO Beginners Guide by sm web designs

SEO Beginners Guide by sm web designs

2. Use SEO

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is absolutely key to making sure your customers can locate your website and keep returning.

Search engines like Google and Bing use bots that crawl through websites, looking to match users’ searches with keywords. Check out my guide to SEO for beginners to find out more.

Not sure what your target customers are searching for? Take a look at Google’s Keyword Planner, test out different search terms related to your business and then include them on your website. A word of warning though…please only sprinkle them in. Both users and search engines will switch off if content is too keyword-heavy (and therefore clunky).

But you can’t stop there! Think of your website like a shop window that needs regular, new displays. Dynamic websites with refreshed and up-to-date content, and those that drive online traffic with blogs and emails, will rank higher up search engines and will encourage customers to return time and time again.

3. Add Personality

So, you’ve thought about what your customer is looking for and what search engines need, now you should decide how you want to come across. It’s known by writers as ‘tone of voice’ or personality and is an important tactic in engaging with customers.

Language is powerful, so think carefully about the words you choose; they can help you create a strong lasting impression.

To get it right, you need to think about how someone might describe your business. For example, if what you do involves offering technical information or advice, you’ll want to sound helpful, knowledgeable and experienced. If your products or services are more lifestyle-based then try to sound upbeat and fun. Think about successful brands like Innocent smoothies – they use humour to great effect, but in a way that’s appropriate for their market.

Whatever your business, always sound positive and welcoming and try to address the customer directly as ‘you’ – it’s much more personal and much more effective.

Image taken from Buzzfeed on Pinterest

4. Keep it short and break it up

We read websites in a different way to books and magazines. Quite often, we simply scan through the text with our eyes and focus only on key information. Frighteningly, research has shown you have a mere 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention once they land on your page.

Your design will go a long way to make web pages interesting, but also think about writing snappy headings, breaking text up with paragraphs or sub-headings and using lists or bullet points.

And don’t forget to include calls-to-action; your customers need regular prompts to keep them alert and so they’re clear what you want them to do (e.g. call you, sign up for a newsletter, view your products).

These could include:

  • links to other content on your site
  • registration forms
  • contact details
  • your social media links

5. Call in the professionals

If you’re worried your website content is just a bit flat… or you need help with spelling and grammar… or you’re just super busy, then consider contacting a professional copywriter used to writing for the web.

A good writer will be able to polish and add life to existing content or help you conjure up the right descriptions if you’re just starting out.  Just make sure you brief them well. The kind of information they need includes:

An overview of your business: what it offers and what it wants to achieve.

Customers: who your typical customer is and what you know about any new customer segments you’re targeting.

Tone-of-voice: how do you want to come across?

Competitors or benchmark businesses: other organisations (possibly in different fields) who write in a style you really like. Make sure you point these out to the copywriter.

If you’d like to find out more about getting your content spot on, or would like a recommendation for a copywriter, then please get in touch with me.

and lets chat about your business