Your website is such an important business tool. It’s crucial that you communicate the exact right message you want your target audience to see so your site can start working its hardest for you.
So, great! Just write up some copy, pop it into your website and that’s it, right? Well, unfortunately, not exactly. If you’re new to copywriting, there are a few important best practices you’ll need to keep in mind that can not only help you keep copy on track, but also equip your website with the information it needs to be that 24/7 salesperson you know it can be.
Take a look at these nine website copywriting best practices that every beginner should keep handy when getting started writing web copy:
Identify Your Audience
First and foremost, you gotta know who you’re talking to. Why? Because as a business, your goal is to create a website that is centered around your users, designed with an empathetic understanding of their lifestyles, needs, and preferences. With the creation of your brand strategy, I’ve already laid out your missions, vision, and values. Together we examined your ideal audience, competitors, and what makes you unique. Try to keep your ideal client in your mind when writing your web copy. This will help you to speak to exactly the right people in just the manner they want to see it.
Create Clear Concise Headlines
If you’re banking on your website visitors reading every page of your site (or even all of the copy on one page), then you may be disappointed. That means your first impression has to be great, especially on your home page.
Only 41 percent of Americans report that they watched, read or heard any in-depth news stories, beyond the headlines, in the last week.
So plan for scanning. Honestly, you’re probably doing it right now. Because with the saturation of content on the internet today, if you’re not scanning for the key takeaways, you’re in the minority.
Use your headlines as the prime real estate that they are and capture the attention of your visitors with clear headlines that are direct and to the point.
Avoid Using Negatives
When it comes to creating a tone for your brand, you want to be remembered for the positive, solution-oriented tone you set in your copy—not the negative stuff that might discourage a customer from learning more about your business.
Creating a positive tone for your users allows them to gain trust in your brand, as you provide a positive solution to their problem or desire. While there may be instances when creating a sense of fear or urgency to take action may be appropriate, a good rule of thumb is to start with the positive first.
Talk About “Them” More Than Yourself
Quite simply, using the word “you” makes people’s ears perk up a little. As a species, humans are wired to think about what’s in our best interest when making decisions—so naturally, we gravitate toward content that speaks directly to us. It makes us feel special, included and connected because the writing is more personal, conversational and relatable.
Relate To Their Experiences And Appeal To Their Emotions
Unbounce published a totally awesome article a couple years ago that helps writers know how to use content to appeal to users who may be experiencing one of the seven deadly sins. What they outlined was a short and sweet guideline to dealing with different emotions through content:
Are they feeling “lust”? Appeal to “desire” in your copy. How about “pride”? Dish back with “confidence”. “Gluttony”? Go with “self-interest”.
Speak Their Language
Some businesses use humor to speak directly to their target audience. This can add personality to their brand and creating a lasting impression on customers and prospects alike.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are a technical business, you should have common technical language and jargon that’s used within your industry to create credibility. If you’re a personal injury firm, you should use language that’s sensitive to car accident victims or families of victims that may have just experienced a traumatic situation.
The goal is to speak to your audience in the way that they will receive your brand’s information best.
Trim The (Content) Fat Where Possible
Is it relevant? Is it necessary? Is it providing value to the user?
If the answer to these is “no”, then it’s time to get rid of the fluff. Some people get caught up in the misconception that a website has to have tons of content to rank well in searches, but the reality is that unless it’s valuable and clear to the user, a surplus of content is only going to prevent them from taking an action.
Use Hyperlinks Within The Copy
Try to make things as simple as humanly possible for website visitors.
Linking doesn’t just help you rank higher in Google search results—it also lets your users have the most fluid user experience possible. It empowers them to learn more about either your business. Your website copy should include links to other pages on your website.
Hyperlinks should never be taken advantage of. In fact, Google will likely penalize you for too many or irrelevant links. So only add them when it comes naturally to your copy.
Create a “Call to Action”
Businesses don’t usually create websites just so other people have something nice to look at.
Instead, they want something from the people that visit their sites such as making appointments or, even better, buying something.
The call is usually found in the form of a quite direct request, such as ‘click here’ or ’contact us now’ and they are typically placed in strategic positions where they are most likely to be noticed.
The least amount of ambiguity you can create for your users, the better. And the best way to do that is to use verbs as the first word of your “call to action” or CTA.
In addition to using verbs, it’s important to be very clear in your CTAs about what it is that you want them to do. Just writing the word “Submit” won’t necessarily entice someone to take action, especially if they’re scanning the page and don’t know the context of the ask. So you’ve gotta use two or more words to be clear about what you want them to do.
Give them a CTA that speaks to the action, like one of these: “View Our Case Studies”, “See Our Results”, “View Our Testimonials”, “Calculate Your Results”, “Start Your Free Trial”, or “Request a Consultation”.