When setting up a new website, most business owners will focus on the design and the look of the new website. So when their web designer asks them for the text they often see it as a task to get done and out of the way as quickly as possible - the idea being that if the website looks good, you will get enquiries. Having now seen many professional looking websites that get lots of hits but few new customers, however, it is important to understand what a difference writing effective web copy makes. Most small business owners are experienced in their trade or profession but have little marketing experience, and as such most websites are filled with text that has been rushed, so busy in the day to day activities of their businesses that they don’t get much time to sit down and really plan their content.
So if you’re reading this, you have either written your text for your website already, or are about to start, this is a simple guide which if you implement the ideas here, will improve your websites results.
Firstly, some questions to ask yourself:
What kind of people do you want to attract through this website – who are your ideal customers (e.g. general public, small business owners, men, women, teenagers, the older generation)? How can you tailor the content to those people?
What are the BENEFITS of my product/service?
Why should they buy from YOUR business, i.e. what is different about your business?
What action do you want them to take once they’ve read your website – do you want them to call you, fill out an online form or buy something online with their credit card?
1. Make sure content is easy to read
Most people will not read huge complicated paragraphs of text online, as it’s all too easy to click on to another website or another page, so it’s vital to keep your information simple, and to break it up into bite sized chunks. Here are some guidelines for the length of your content:
Headings: 8 words or less
Sentences: 15 - 20 words
Paragraphs: 40 - 70 words
Page word count: 250+ words
2. Break up the text wherever possible
Provide a summary of your information by clearly communicating the direction of your discussion. Use informative headings and subheadings with a paragraph of 4 to 5 lines that supports them. You only have a few seconds to grab your visitor's attention.
Most will simply scan for the information they are seeking.
Use bulleted or numbered lists, boldface or coloured font
to emphasize the points you wish to make. Include links
at the end of your paragraph (or within the text) to direct
visitors to other pages of your site for more in-depth
3. Write from a point of ‘YOU’
The most powerful word in the English language is "YOU". As hard as it may be to swallow, let me be the first to break it to you that the people reading your website are not interested in you or your business – they are interested in themselves, and how you can help THEM. So your content must be written from THEIR perspective, not yours, and must answer the question they will be asking themselves ‘what’s in it for me?’
4. Focus on benefits
Most websites will focus on the FEATURES of their products or services, not the BENEFITS. Put very simply a feature is what a product does or has; a benefit is the reason why that is important, for example:
Feature: It comes with a timer.
Benefit: Your house will be warm when you get home from work.
Feature: revolutionary triple-blade shaving system
Benefit: You will a closer shave
Recordable Digital TV Box
Feature: Pre-programmable recording function
Benefit: You’ll never miss your favourite shows.
So you may have the highest quality service, or the very best product, but your reader will always be asking themselves ‘so what?’
5. Use Calls to Action
What is the next step you want people to take? Each page should lead the reader on to another page – perhaps you want them to read about everything you offer, or perhaps you just want them to get in touch. One of the most common mistakes for a website is to have pages and pages of content which are all dead ends – if someone is reading about, for example, your new brand of widgets then they are interested and it is your job to tell them very clearly what to do next. For example: ‘enquire now’, ‘call us now to order your free brochure on 01234 5678910’, ‘come down to our showroom to talk to one of our team personally’, ‘add to cart’
6. Make your text descriptive to help search engine rankings
The search engines will read the text on your website, so if you want to be found for certain keywords it is very important to use those keywords in your content. For example, if you are a building surveyor in Birmingham, and want to appear high in the search results for ‘chartered surveyor in Birmingham’, then you should use those specific words, and make them bold so that the search engines know they are important words.
7. Write in your customer's language
You may be highly intelligent, you may have a fantastic vocabulary - but if your customers DON’T then they will not be impressed by your clever language or technical jargon. Similarly if your customers are highly technical and will want lots of detail make sure your writing style reflects that – and get help if needed.
How can JDR Help?
We have a team of experts who specialise in writing search engine friendly, customer focused web copy. We will provide the wording for each page of the website, taking the hassle out of it for you so that you can focus on running your business.
For information on using JDR’s copywriting service contact us on 01332 343281 or via our contact page.