Every month I’m told how clients stall the development of their own websites. It’s usually a variation of the same story. The website content is waiting to be written by the company’s owner. On the face of it, it makes sense. Who knows a business better than the person who started it? The founder understands their market, their customer base and in all likelihood can string together comprehensible sentences fairly easily.
The problem is, they just don’t have the time for writing among all the other responsibilities of running their business. And so, the new website takes waaaay longer to launch than it should.
In the end, web developers get tired of waiting and they contact a professional content writer to step in. Or the business owner decides that their time is better spent running their business. Or, the content gets written, but it lacks what it takes to reach the people it’s written for. Then it has to be done over.
The thing is, writing website content isn’t hard. It’s fairly simple — as long as you know what you’re doing. Pretty much like any other skill. Once you know what’s required, it’s a simple matter of following the steps and executing each well.
So, if you’re planning on writing your own website content — and you don’t want to have to call on a professional writer to re-do it once you’re done — read on. Below you’ll find the basic steps for writing great website content.
Always start with research
To get to page one in search engine results, you need to include the right words in your copy. You need to be reputable and trustworthy. You also need to understand what your top competitors are doing. Then you can do it better. The only way to be sure you have the right words, the right tone, and the right feel for your website’s words is to do a little digging.
Try a couple of searches using your main keywords. See which competitors or complementary businesses come up in the top three organic results. You may need to clear your history first or go incognito in the search settings. This stops Google ‘helpfully’ remembering your past interests and searches.
Check out the sites of your top competitors. What keywords do they use? How does your product or service differ from theirs? What kind of language do they speak with their website’s visitors in — casual, formal, friendly or academic? What would work best for your target audience and brand image?
Let that rest in your head for a little while and move onto your keyword research. This is not difficult. Simply head to a website like SEMrush, Moz, or Ubersuggest — or even all three. Key in your main keywords and see what suggestions come up. Take note of these. These words are the ones the world uses to find the thing you do (or sell).
It can also help to do some topic searches for your keywords too. Answer the Public is great for this. They’ll show you what people are asking about your product or service. This can be used to inform your headings, subheadings and content sections. It’s good for blogging too.
Now consider your audience
There is no such thing as a product or service that is right for everyone. If you try writing for everyone, I’ll guarantee you, you won’t reach anyone. You must define who your audience is. If you don’t know who your audience is, you cannot write for them. You cannot speak their language.
To paraphrase Carlos Ghosn, you don’t want to be something for everyone, you need to aim to be everything for someone. Those ‘someone’s’ are your ideal customers, the audience you write for. When you reach them with your words, you make a real connection and start converting your website’s visitors to loyal customers.
“We don’t want to be something for everybody, we want to be everything for some people.” — Carlos Ghosn, Fortune Magazine’s Asia Businessman of the Year, 2002 & 2020’s international fugitive
Once you know who your audience is, writing for them is easier.
Is your ideal customer a farmer or a new mum? Each of these people will respond better to different ways of writing. This is why customer profiling is so helpful. Having an individual in mind when putting together your content makes finding the right words to talk with them easier.
Keep your eye on the goal
When it comes to sitting down and writing, remember this: each webpage serves the same purpose. That purpose is convincing visitors you’re the best choice for solving their problem. To do this you put your customer at the front and centre of each page. That includes your ‘About Us’ page, where you tell your story.
As the author of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, Dale Carnegie said…
“People aren’t interested in you. They’re interested in themselves.” — Dale Carnegie
So, as you write your home page, your service and product pages, even your about us page, make the copy you write all about your customer. Make them the hero of your content. Help them see how their life can be so much better with your product or service. Show them how your business will bring them closer to their ideal image of themselves.
Take your ego out of your website. It has no business there. This can all sound a bit vague, so here are some tips for applying it to writing content…
1. On your home page, give website visitors a reason to like you.
2. On your about us page, show how customers are at the heart of all you do.
3. Include relatable snippets in your team bios so it feels like you could be your customer’s trusted friend.
4. When describing your products and services, highlight the benefits they bring customers.
5. Use customer testimonials — they give credence to your copy.
6. ALWAYS include a Call to Action (CTA) for each page — let your website visitors know what to do. Show them where they should go next.
Getting down to writing your website content
With your keyword research to hand, who you’re writing for, and the purpose of your content firmly in mind, it’s time to get writing.
Each of your website’s pages will have a number of headings and subheadings. These should include your main keyword creatively.
What I mean by creatively is, used in a way that’s attractive to read and memorable. Instead of ‘motorcycle training courses’ try ‘The UK’s 1st choice for motorcycle training courses’. Selling socks? ‘100% Cotton Socks’ are boring, but ‘Soft Cotton Socks’ make visitors want to put them on.
Whatever your business is about, try tapping into the excitement and enthusiasm you had for it when you started out. Hold onto that enthusiasm and assume the customer’s perspective when you’re writing about it.
“The copywriter uses words as tools to persuade and motivate an audience. You persuade your readers you have something valuable to offer; you motivate them to acquire it for themselves. This is the essence of effective copywriting.” — Richard Bayan
As you write the content sections, use the keywords you researched naturally in your descriptions. Write in a way that engages your audience. Be authentic and honest about what your product or service does.
Avoid making audacious, hard to believe claims. Tell visitors that your socks will help them find the man of their dreams and you’ve lost them forever. Tell them that they’ll make their daily run more comfortable and therefore improve running time and you might convince them to make a purchase.
Don’t stuff keywords into every sentence. Do remember to use them. Don’t repeat yourself constantly, use synonyms and even colloquialisms if appropriate. Mix up your word use to keep visitors interested, reading, and learning. Connect with them so you become their preferred option for whatever product or service you offer.
Edit your work
Once you’ve drafted your content, leave it for a day. Go back and read it through after a break. Edit it. Cut out all unnecessary words. That means anything that is not adding value for your customer.
Make sure you’re not wasting people’s time by being verbose with your content. Brevity is important for website visitors.
Find the right balance between telling your visitors what they need to know and going on, and on, and on, about how great you are and why you’re the best at what you do. But don’t lean the other way and forget to shout about your attractive qualities.
Get it right and your content will convert visitors to customers.
Once you’ve edited your content, try getting your website developer or someone else to read it through. Ask them to let you know what they think. Don’t take this personally. Words are just words. They don’t belong to you. If your feedback suggests you change things, change them.
Once you’ve made the edits put the content into your new website and review the draft before hitting publish.
Seeing things in the website’s design can make some text sound a little strange or highlight clunky sentences. Review, do a final edit and hit publish.
Or get your web developer to hit publish.
Writing website content is not hard. It does take time, research and a good understanding of who you are writing for. You are not writing website content for yourself or your business. All great website content is written for a select group — your ideal customers. Reach them and you’ll have created copy that converts visitors to customers.