We could talk all day about website copywriting but appreciate you’ve got other things to do! So we condensed the most salient points down to five. Five top tips. Most copywriting applies to any form of marketing, be that content for a leaflet, a blog or even an ad in the local paper. If you have the right audience reading, your copy has to engage and convert. But for this article, let’s assume we’re talking about copywriting for a new website. Let’s also assume that good spelling and grammar goes without saying!
Features vs benefits
A ‘feature’ is basically the description of a product or service and what it offers. It will include descriptive details such as specific service hours or a special type of package bespoke to the company. “We were established in 1997…” etc.
A ‘benefit’ focuses on how the product or service is different from others – and crucially what is in it for the customer. “We have 20 years’ experience to help you…” etc.
Both are important points to focus on when website copywriting as the customer will most likely be unfamiliar with the company and may want everything spelling out clearly. BUT a customer will be more persuaded by the benefits as they are the more effective sales tools. Honestly, all the reader wants to know, even on a subconscious level, is ‘what’s in it for me?’
Yet, without a doubt, most businesses write about what they do rather than why you should come to them.
Words are the life source of your writing and when used effectively can deliver the point you’re trying to sell and cause a person to act. So, it’s good to not be lazy with your words.
Your web copy should stay away from weak words such as “strive” or “try” as they suggest hesitation. Or “Our goal is to….” As our friend Yoda says; “Do or do not, there is no try.” So rather than “Our goal is to put the customer first 100% of the time,” say, “We put the customer first 100% of the time.” Be confident and proud.
Good copy should use positive words that again are confident about the service a business provides – don’t be hesitant about your company or the customer will. You can be modest but don’t be too British about it!
It’s also wise to stay away from lazy words such as “very”, “just” and “so”, which can be overused and don’t actually add much emphasis. So something is not “very strong” but rather it is “powerful”. It’s not “very good”, it’s “brilliant”. You get the idea! Think twice before using these type of words and search for more, er, powerful ones, which won’t simply be skimmed in your web copy. Don’t get me wrong – they can be used but be careful about using them repeatedly.
Sentence length (readability)
Readability is important in website copywriting as you must hook the customer and not bore them. Split the text up, use headers, keep the bodies of text simple, yet effective. Deliver your benefits without confusing or overwhelming the customer with flowery language. Readability is also important for Search Engine Optimisation. A punchy, human readable story. Sentences of mind-numbing length will turn Google off as well as the reader.
Best-selling author, James Patterson believes it’s his use of short sentence length that has made him so popular with readers; “I think what hooks people into my stories is the pace. I try to leave out the parts people skip.”
Short sentence length works well for web copy because you’re also cutting out the bits people like to skip. Nobody wants to read purple prose when they’re simply looking for a service description.
Readers can be put off by large blocks of writing, especially as that doesn’t look good on a mobile. You are not writing a book. So make sure your paragraphs are concise.
I don’t mean keep the overall amount of text on your website minimal. (That is quite trendy at the moment, but you’d need to spend more directing traffic as your SEO won’t be great.) Again, it is about putting your messages in bite-sized chunks. Collectively, they could add up to a lot of text, which is fine. There is a fallacy that sales letters, for example, must be one side of paper. Rubbish. If your message is interesting, and the recipients are relevant, people will read a sales letter if it’s ten pages long.
Although the use of keywords is important in web copy, they should be used sparingly. Avoid keyword stuffing and stick to content that reads organically and is relevant to what people are searching for. Those “good ol’ days” of mentioning your category 50 times are long gone!
if you’re a plumber in Shrewsbury, your copy should state early on that you’re a “plumber in Shrewsbury” but don’t overuse that keyphrase and spoil the story. Google may indeed punish you if they think you’re keyword stuffing. And it will certainly turn today’s media-savvy audience off. Talk about your services, as people’s searches are more specific these days. They might not be searching for a plumber in Shrewsbury but rather “leaking taps shrewsbury”, for example. It paints a nicer overall picture and keeps Google happy.
Definitely ensure that keywords are in your page meta descriptions, i.e. in the back end of the website. These are the headlines and summaries that will appear in Google search results.
Make the call to action clear
This may seem like an obvious inclusion when writing web copy, but it’s surprising how many companies fail to clearly lay out their contact number or email.
When offering a service, it should be clear what the company wants the customer to do; be it a phone call, an email or a free online quote. You should make the call to action obvious and easily accessible – ideally your contact information should be available on every page. If someone is on a mobile, reading a page on your website and they decide they want to call you, is your number there on that page? Or is it on the Contact Us page, which is hidden in the hamburger menu back at the top of the page? People get confused and bored easily.
You might think it’s a bit silly, for example, to put an enquiry form on every page. But if that is how you prefer people to contact you, do it. You want people to phone? The phone number should be on every page, with ‘click to call’ mobile functionality. Make it easy.
If you’d like to chat over any of the tips discussed above, send an enquiry using the form below 😀