It doesn’t matter if you offer a better product or service than your competitors.
If your competitors have a website that looks good and reads well, customers will choose them over you. Customers won’t know that you offer a better service, because they won’t get that far.
Just think about it from the customer’s perspective. Are you going to choose the company with a snazzy website and memorable copy, or the one with a Windows 97 website and copy written by Karen in accounts? (sorry to any Karens in accounts - you always seem to be the name that pops up in examples like this. Maybe, somewhere, there is a Karen in accounts who also writes amazing copy and is an incredible social media manager).
So, the words on your website matter. And whilst we would obviously recommend hiring a pro (that’s us, in case you were wondering) to write them, we also know it’s possible to write some passable copy with a little help from your friends (that’s also us). With that in mind, here are 10 website copywriting tips that you can use to grow your sales and win you more business.
Think of your website like an iceberg
Ha! This is a weird analogy, isn’t it? Bear with us. We’re still not sure if it even makes total sense ourselves, but we’ve gone too far to turn back now. We’re also kinda nicking this off Ernest Hemingway, but we’ve gone too far, etc.
Basically: think of an iceberg. A little bit is poking out above the sea, and the rest is underneath the sea. It gets gradually bigger the further down you go. Your homepage is the tip of the iceberg. It should only reveal the tip of the information about your company: who you are, what you do.
So keep your homepage very simple. It needs to hook people and get them interested in your website. Once you’ve got their interest, you can lead them off into the deeper parts of your website. The deeper people go, the more info you should give them.
The structure of your website is extremely important, because a clear and logical structure allows your readers to easily navigate it and get to where they want to go. Sticking to this iceberg theory will help turn readers into customers and clients.
Know the objective of each web page
What’s the objective of each of your web pages? This is important, because it affects the copy. For example, let’s say you sell personalised hats online. The objective of your ‘About Us’ section should be to inform people a little bit about your business, and the team behind it. So don’t try and sell anything here.
But on a product page, the objective is to sell a hat. So your copy should persuade people to buy a hat. This isn’t the time to inform, or educate, or be their best mate. Make it as easy as possible for them to buy a hat. The objective of each web page informs the copy.
Aim for 300 words per page - but don’t force it
As stupid as it is, because Google have decided that 300 words (or there and thereabouts) is the minimum number of words a web page needs to appear in search results, that’s what we have to do. Do not question our SEO overlords.
So aim for 300 words on all of the web pages that you would like to rank for in Google. That doesn’t mean every web page - your contact form, for example, doesn’t really need to rank in Google because people won’t search for it.
However, this doesn’t mean you should go back and immediately bump up your word count on every page to 300. If it doesn’t work, and you’re just babbling on to hit 300 words, then don’t do it. Your primary focus should be on writing copy that users want to read, not search engines.
Check your spelling, check your grammar, check it again
OK, we’ll admit that this tip IS stupidly obvious, but it’s so important that we feel we need to reiterate it for the millionth time. Spell checking your work doesn’t just mean running it through Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Try a tool such as Grammarly or Hemingway to help you with the coherence, but do it sparingly.
Ask friends and family to read over your website copy. Read it aloud to make sure it sounds natural. You could always ask for professional help as well (COUGH COUGH). There aren’t many things worse for business than spelling and grammar errors - so cut them out.
Keep a consistent tone of voice
Don’t go from down-with-the-kids in one page to corporate speak in the next. Pick a tone of voice for your website and stick to it. It helps to keep your website coherent, but more importantly, creating a unique tone of voice helps to distinguish you from competitors. That's really the secret to good copywriting - being unique.
If you need help creating one for your company, we’ve written a handy guide to tone of voice.
Don’t be unsure of yourself. Be assertive and tell the audience exactly what you will do for them:
W̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶h̶e̶l̶p̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶w̶e̶b̶s̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶p̶y̶
We will improve your website copy
Just don’t overpromise:
W̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶m̶i̶l̶l̶i̶o̶n̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶n̶e̶w̶ ̶c̶u̶s̶t̶o̶m̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶b̶o̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶f̶i̶t̶s̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶1̶0̶0̶0̶%̶
We will give you the tools to grow your customer base and boost your profits
Talk about benefits instead of features
Companies care about features. Customers care about benefits. Since your website is for your customer, talk about benefits, not features. Like so:
T̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶r̶a̶d̶i̶o̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶3̶0̶c̶m̶ ̶l̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶w̶e̶i̶g̶h̶s̶ ̶4̶9̶ ̶g̶r̶a̶m̶s̶
This radio is lightweight and fits in your pocket
A̶ ̶1̶9̶7̶ ̶h̶o̶r̶s̶e̶p̶o̶w̶e̶r̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶
A car that can go 150mph
W̶e̶ ̶w̶r̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶g̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶c̶o̶p̶y̶
We write copy that skyrockets your sales
Be consistent with your language
This is something that’s normally covered in a tone of voice document, but it’s important whether you have one or not. Decide early on, ideally right at the beginning of your website copywriting, how you want to refer to things, people and places.
For example: do you capitalise your company name? Are you writing in UK or US English? Even the little things matter: whether you write numbers like ‘1’ or like ‘one.’ However you decide to do it, be consistent. It all helps to keep your website coherent, understandable and easy-to-read.
Organise your copy into digestible chunks
Whilst we don’t quite subscribe to the notion that every internet user is an impatient, time-obsessed lunatic with 39 tabs always open in Chrome, we do accept the need to keep your website copy as digestible as possible.
Basically, that means avoiding large chunks of text where possible. It means mixing body text with headings, sub-headings, bullet points and images. It all makes your website easier to read, easier to digest and, ultimately, easier to buy from.
Every industry is full of jargon, and it can be easy to get sucked into using it all the time. But not everyone knows what a CRM is, or what SEO stands for, or who a SMFIF is (OK, we made that last one up).
Your website copy needs to be read and understood by as many people as possible, so cut out the jargon where possible. On the occasions where you absolutely have to use it, you should always give an acronym its full name on its first usage on your site:
G̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶w̶e̶b̶s̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶S̶E̶O̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶f̶u̶n̶d̶a̶m̶e̶n̶t̶a̶l̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶p̶p̶e̶a̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶G̶o̶o̶g̶l̶e̶
Good website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is fundamental to appearing on Google
You could also link to a definition of the term, ideally one on your own website, but if not then link to a reputable website such as Google, Wikipedia or Big Bang Copy.
Jargon is difficult to avoid, which is why it’s sometimes best to get external help when writing website copy. This external help can come at the problem from an outside perspective and make your website more understandable for a wider audience. Feel free to get in touch if you need some help with your website copywriting.