1. Plan your content out beforehand
Fail to prepare, prepare to write shit website copy. Yep - as tempting as it may be to dive straight in to writing your homepage, it’s a much better idea to take a step back and plan everything out first.
So before you do anything, sketch out the different sections you'd like to include on your homepage. Write down some of the key info about your business you want to include, and in which order you want it to appear (maybe the next step in this list will help you decide that order).
2. Use the Who-What-Why structure
Each homepage may look different. They might sound different. They might act different. But any decent homepage should follow a fairly simple structure.
- First, it should outline who you are. The simpler the better. For example: ‘We’re Big Bang Copy. We’re a copywriting agency.’
- Then, it should say what you do, sell or provide. ‘We write website copy that turns readers into customers.’
- And then comes the whys - why do you do it? Why should people choose you? - ‘We’re trusted by brands all over the world. Here’s what we’ve done for them, and why they chose us.’
Easy, right? Even idiots like us can write something decent for their homepage.
3. Use the iceberg theory
But before you set about writing the website homepage equivalent of War and Peace, think about icebergs. Or more specifically, about the iceberg theory. Since this theory is entirely a figment of our imagination, we're going to name it the Big Bang Iceberg Theory.
It goes like this: your homepage should only reveal the surface-level information about your company. Imagine you have 12 different departments within a business. You wouldn’t write in-depth about every single one on your homepage, would you? Instead, you should list the different departments, write a little summary of each, and give the reader the option to learn more in different sections of your website.
If you whack all of your information on the homepage, it can be a bit intimidating for new visitors. They’re unlikely to read it, unlikely to take it in - and unlikely to become a customer. Your homepage is ultimately a tool to hook readers in and convince them to read on. You do that by enticing them in with this surface-level info - not by splurging every last bit of detail about your business on the first page.
4. Write it from the reader’s perspective
When it comes to copywriting, there’s one issue we come across more than any other: when it is written from the company’s perspective. That may seem counter intuitive, but think about it. You’re writing this copy for your customer. It should be understood by them. It should speak to them. It should give them the information they’re looking for.
So when you sit down to write your website copy, imagine you’re a customer. What do they want to know? What’s important to them? What’s going to convince them to purchase from you?
For example, loads of copywriters will often tell you to focus on benefits rather than features. Let’s say you’re selling the iPod. Instead of saying it has 2GB memory (I know, we’re stuck in 2007), say it can hold 2,000 songs. Your reader wants to know what’s in it for them. Keep that in mind as you're writing your homepage copy, and you won't go too far wrong.
5. Hook the reader in early
In most cases, your homepage will be the most-viewed page on your website. So it needs to hook people in. If you’re going to nail one page, it needs to be this one. For this reason, you need to hook the reader in early. You might do it through memorable language, big graphics, BIG MOVING THINGS, including a statistic, a free offer, a discount - anything that’s going to convince them to read on.
6. Aim for 300-500 words
There’s no right or wrong word count for a web page. But if you want something to aim for, we’d say somewhere between 300 and 500 words is a good area to target. It’s enough to get indexed by Google so that it appears in search results, but not too much to scare people off.
If you want to write more than 500 words on any page on your website, we’d recommend writing a blog instead.
7. Proofread, proofread, proofread
We look at lots of websites. We inspect lots of websites. And we tut very loudly at loads of websites. Do you know why? Because they don’t proofread their copy. It’s incredible how many will hit that ‘Publish’ button without double-checking it, quite frankly. Spelling and grammar errors are a bad look for your business, and could be costing you money.
If you don't already, write your copy in Google Docs or Microsoft Word instead of directly in your website CMS. Their in-built spellcheckers should pick up typos and basic errors. For extra accuracy, try a tool like Grammarly to pick up anything that Word or Docs missed. Basically, there are so many tools out there that there really is no excuse for making spelling and grammar errors in your web copy.