Last week we talked about the 4 pages that every website needs to attract clients – if you haven’t read it yet, go check it out. And if you’re busy working on your web copy, today I’ve got some tips to help you make those pages rock.
Now, as a designer, I’m actually better at pictures than words. But over the last 10 years I’ve worked on a lot of websites and written a heck of a lot of blog posts, so I’ve learned a few things about what works and what doesn’t. Oh, and of course, having a former English teacher for a mum and a copywriter for a sister certainly hasn’t hurt either!
Here are my easy ways to write better web copy:
1. Show your personality
Don’t let your website be a snooze-fest of boring copy. Letting your personality shine through will be much more entertaining and engaging.
It’ll also make it easier to start building a rapport with potential clients. They can get a feel for what kind of person you are and what it’ll be like working with you.
If you find it hard showing your personality, try dictating your copy instead of writing it. Just record yourself as you talk through what your site needs to say. You can edit it afterwards to clean it up but your copy should still feel more natural, more you.
2. Decide on your tone
Speaking of cleaning up, should your web copy have swearing in it?
Some brands do really well having an edgy, tell it to me straight tone, and swearing seems perfectly natural in that context. Check out The Middle Finger Project for a great example.
But for other businesses that would be completely inappropriate.
What kind of tone should your business have? Formal or informal? (Note: professional isn’t the same as formal.) Are you youthful (recently a client said she knew I was young as I use the word “awesome” on my site)? Are you like a hyper puppy and use plenty of exclamation marks?! Or are you, like, totally chilled?
Figure that out and it’ll decide the type of language you use and how you use it.
3. Drop the clichés
How many times have you visited a site and the first thing you read is “welcome to my website”?
Boring, right? It’s just been done too many times before.
You’ve only got a few seconds to grab people’s attention and interest, but if you use clichés like that you’ve lost them before you’ve even told them anything about your business.
So drop the clichés and instead go straight for the good stuff. Make sure it’s instantly clear who you help and how you help them. Make sure people know how awesome you are.
4. Include your keywords
You’ve heard of SEO, right?
If you haven’t, SEO stands for search engine optimisation. In plain English, and as simply as possible, that means getting found in Google.
Optimising your site helps Google and the other search engines show people your content. And you need to add keywords to your copy so the search engines know what it’s about and when to show your site in search results.
Each page should have a main keyword or phrase associated with it, and that keyword/phrase should appear within your copy. But don’t add it to every other sentence. That wouldn’t read at all well.
Write for people first and search engines second, and add your keywords only when it feels natural. You can add variations on your keywords and phrases too. Google is smart enough to recognise them and using different versions will improve the readability of your text.
5. Use “you”
One of the smallest changes you can make to your web copy has one of the biggest impacts.
Make everything you write seem just like a chat over coffee. Don’t write about how you treat “the client”. Instead, use “you” and speak directly to your reader.
Show that you understand them and their problems, and demonstrate how your business can help them.
6. Skip the jargon
Jargon is bad for your web copy.
It’s usually either technical and either complicated or boring – sometimes both. Or it’s cheesy business buzzwords that make you cringe.
If you can use plain English instead, do it. Or, if you must use technical terms, can you explain what they mean?
I’ve got loads more tips for you, but this post has turned into a bit of an epic! So stay tuned for more easy tips to help your web copy in next week’s post.
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