How to write good website copy (that converts)

Nick Harland
November 2023

Your website is the shop window for your business, so it needs to be good. Here's how to write banging website copy that wins your business more business.

1. Figure out the structure of your website first (use the iceberg theory)

Before you do anything, you first need to figure out the structure of your website. 

You could do that by writing down a list of all the different pages you want to include, along with a brief description of what will go in each page. Then sketch out a rough website hierarchy. Think about the different categories and sections of your website, and how each page fits in.

To help with this, you might want to use the iceberg theory (no, not that one). Think of your website like an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is your homepage, which contains the surface-level information about your business. As readers go deeper into your website, that’s where they get more detailed information.

If you throw too much information at the reader in the homepage, it can be a little bit overbearing and scare them off. Instead, use your homepage as a chance to hooker them in and convince them to go deeper.

2. Figure out the purpose of each page

You might also wanna think about what the purpose of each page is. For example: do you want the reader to buy your product? Learn more? Contact you? Visit another page on your website? 

Whatever the purpose of that page, keep it in mind whenever you’re writing new copy. It’ll help keep the copy consistent with a single objective in mind.

3. Aim for at least 300 words per page (but don’t force it)

As a really rough rule of thumb, aim for at least 300 words on each page. That’s (more or less) the minimum word count Google needs to ‘index’ a page so that it appears in search results.

BUT! Don’t stick to this religiously. If you’re struggling to reach 300 words, don’t waffle on to try and meet the word count. It will only make your copy worse. And on the other hand, if you feel you have a lot to say on one page, don’t be afraid to say it.

4. Talk about benefits instead of features

Most people don’t care if the computer you're selling has a 2Ghz processor or 6GB RAM. They want to know what’s in it for them. 

So instead of saying how much memory your computer has, explain what the reader can do with it. This old school Apple ad is a great example of benefits over features.

In case you can’t quite see it, the bottom of this ad reads:

Welcome to the digital music revolution. 10,000 songs in your pocket. Works with Mac or PC. Over a million sold. The new iPod.

See what we mean? Instead of blabbing on about its processor, it instead explains what exactly the iPod can do for you. That’s what people want to hear. When you’re writing your website copy, always focus on the benefits for the reader. Give them what they want to hear and you won’t go too far wrong.

5. Make your content easy to digest

Most people will scan rather than read your website copy. Don’t fight it. It’s going to happen. Instead, make it as easy as possible for your readers to scan your website. You can do that by:

  • Shortening your paragraphs
  • Using bullet point lists
  • Including plenty of section headers
  • Breaking up content with images and carousels.

But hang on. 

That doesn’t mean your website should only consist of short sentences, lists and subheadings.

Make the most important information as visible as possible. but also give your readers the option of going into greater detail. It’s kinda like having two layers of info: the scannable layer and this extra detailed layer of information that you’re (probably not) reading right now.

So how to do that? Well, you might put key information in headings, or in bold, or maybe in a pull-out quote. Anywhere where it jumps off the page and demands attention. If you read this section back, you might even notice that we’ve employed a lot of the techniques mentioned. Heh.

6. Avoid jargon

Not everyone outside of your business knows what SEM is, or why GDPR is so important, or the intricacies of a CRM. Avoid industry-specific jargon and dense acronyms as much as possible. You’ve got to assume most readers know nothing about your business. Don’t scare them off with jargon that they don’t understand.

To do this, try showing your website to someone from outside of the industry. If they don't understand any words or phrases, either explain them or leave them out of your copy entirely.

7. Make your tone of voice consistent

If you shift one from one tone of voice to another in different parts of your website, it can confuse the reader. It can make your business seem confused and the copy incoherent. That’s why it’s important to stick to one, consistent tone of voice throughout your website (and all of your other marketing channels).

This isn’t easy to do, so you could start by scribbling down a few buzzwords for how you want your business to sound (e.g. conversational, professional, lively, corporate etc.). 

Then, build on that by writing a few stock phrases that seem to fit in with that tone of voice. Pepper them throughout your copy and it’ll suddenly give your website a shedload more personality than before.

8. Make it easy for the reader to take action

Most websites - especially a company website - have some kind of goal attached to them. In other words, what you want the reader to do after visiting your site. Do you want them to buy something? Send you an email? Share your website? 

Whatever it is, make it easy for the reader to take that action. Include plenty of call-to-actions and make sure your copy is optimised around that specific action. That way, you can start seeing some concrete results from all the work you’ve put into your brand spanking new website copy.

Nick Harland