The words you say – and the way you say them – create your customer’s perception of who you are and what you can do for them.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have to say – your words are shaping your customer’s experience and leaving an impression just as much as your products, services and designs are. Copy should never be an afterthought!
But before you dive right into website writing, you need to lay some groundwork for your copy.
The foundation for all great copy is two-fold: know yourself, and know your audience.
Knowing your brand personality
Chances are, you’re intimately familiar with your brand’s purpose and mission. These are driving forces behind the service you’re offering or the products you’re selling.
But your brand is more than just a robot (no offense, Sophia) pumping out products – it’s a reflection of the passion and talent that created it.
This is where your brand’s true personality is born, and this is the root of everything you create.
Take some time to really get clear on who your brand is and how you express yourself to the world. What kind of tone will you take on based on this personality? Will you be tongue-in-cheek? Sarcastic? Punny? Motivational? Poetic?
Whoever you are – know it, embrace it, and use it to guide your voice.
This voice will also depend on the type of person you’re hoping to attract through your web copy, which leads into the next point:
Know your audience
On a surface level, you probably already know the type of person you’re trying to drive to your site and reach with your copy. But doing a little digging on your audience can be a gamechanger when it comes to creating copy that truly reaches your goals and makes people remember you.
There are lots of quick and easy resources you can use to learn more about audience demographics, needs, and how they’re interacting with preexisting content. Check out Search Engine Journal’s guides on Knowing Your Audience and Studying Your Target Audience as well as this Hubspot blog on Buyer Persona Research.
And if nothing else, why not get to know them organically? Run fun or informative social media polls to get to know their tastes, send out surveys or elicit feedback on past projects or posts. Your audience wants to know that you care about their wants and needs – don’t forget to show ‘em a little love.
Let’s get to website writing
Now that you’ve taken some time to get to know yourself and the people you’re writing to, you’re on the right track to successful website writing. There have been entire books written about writing great copy – but for now, here are some basic pillars of success to follow.
1. Stick to the tried-and-true “inverted pyramid”
The flow of your copy is just as important as the words themselves. The fact of the matter is, your readers are busy people, and they don’t want to have to jump around the page to find what they’re looking for.
The ‘inverted pyramid’ style of website writing is simply putting the most important points first, then gradually breaking them down. That way, no matter what kind of time your audience has, they can always get what they came for – and they’ll leave with a good impression of you and your brand.
2. Make it easy on the eyes
Even the most avid readers don’t want to deal with large blocks of back-to-back text. Break up your content into easily digestible pieces for your readers to consume. Bulleted lists, subheads and numbered lists are some popular ways to do this.
Anything you can do to make it easier for your readers to scan the page and still find exactly what they’re looking for is a win-win. The way you structure your content offers a roadmap for their time on your page – the easier that map is to read, the more positive impression they’ll have of you.
Don’t forget that your final web design will most likely include some amount of graphic or photographic content that will naturally break up your text. Design and copy have a powerful and synergistic relationship – but we’ll cover that in a later article.
3. Cut the jargon
No matter what you’re representing, selling or offering, your field most likely has its own jargon that someone without your expertise wouldn’t understand. If you want to appeal to the broadest possible audience (hint: you do), minimizing the amount of jargon in your website copy is essential.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though. Maybe you’re writing for a B2B site, or in an industry that would only attract readers of the same skill set and expertise.
Basic jargon is acceptable in this case – just remember, the more conversational your writing is, the more effective it will be. Excessive or super high-level jargon usually takes away from that natural flow.
4. Keep it conversational
Always remind yourself that your copy reflects your brand’s values and personality. A good rule of thumb is to write like you’re talking with your customer face-to-face (without the awkward small talk, of course).
How would you start the conversation? What kinds of questions would you anticipate them asking? How would your conversation end? Asking yourself these questions as you’re writing copy for your website will help you make sure your content flows well.
And don’t forget to make it sound like you. People want to connect with brands that have warm, personable voices – don’t lose yours!
5. Optimize your copy – but don’t go overboard
Strong SEO is your golden ticket to more online traffic and more user engagement. And if you don’t know much about it, there are tons of online resources for you to build your skills and learn from seasoned pros. Some examples are Yoast’s Complete Guide to SEO Copywriting, Neil Patel’s guide to Writing Content For People and Optimizing For Google and Robbie Richard’s 15 Killer Techniques For SEO Copywriting.
One of the most fundamental SEO 101 skills you’ll learn about is keywording. Learning how to incorporate keywords tactfully and diligently can have a big impact on your rankings – but only if you do it wisely.
Keyword dumping looks and sounds unnatural, and readers will easily pick up on it. It’s not conversational, and it turns people away.
SEO is somewhat of an art form. It takes practice – which is why familiarizing yourself with some basics is a good idea before you finish writing your website copy.
6. The bottom line
Website writing probably isn’t the hardest thing you’ll do when building your business, but it’s no less important than every other strategy you implement. At the end of the day, knowing your voice and your audience will set the stage for standout writing that encapsulates your brand’s mission while attracting the right people to your page.