Creating a new website is exciting. You get to pick fonts, colors and photography that represent your brand. But there’s something equally important that usually gets overlooked — the words.
Most of us have been there. You’re staring at a blinking cursor, trying to figure out what to say. But the words just won’t come. This can be especially true when writing website copy. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources into creating the perfect website. You know exactly how you want your website to look and how it should function — but what should it say?
You’re not alone. Not everyone is a writer, and that’s okay. Our copywriting team is here to share some of our favorite copywriting hacks to help you create the perfect messaging to complement everything else on your site.
What Is Website Copy?
The words on your website can go by a lot of names; “copy,” “text” or “messaging.” Whatever you call it, it’s an essential part of your website. And it shouldn’t be an afterthought. After all, it’s your opportunity to talk to your audience and search engines.
Around here, we usually call it “copy.” But we’re not copying anything, so why is it called that? The name comes from the Latin word copiae, meaning “an abundance of writing.” And our copy team definitely checks that box. In the 1800s, the journalism industry used the term to reference the written words in a news article. In the 1900s, John Emory Powers stepped on the scene. He’s popular in the copywriting industry because, well, he’s the father of it. He’s known as the world’s first full-time copywriter. Thanks to him, the term “copy” rose in popularity, and we now use it across industries when talking about the words and messaging a brand uses to tell its story.
Why Is Copy Important?
Now that we’ve made sure you’ll get that question right at your next trivia night, let’s get into why you should even care. No one reads anyways, right? Wrong. While every website visitor might not read every word on your website, that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
Different website visitors will interact with your website differently. Some know exactly what they need and will go straight to that page without looking at anything else. Some people are visual and auditory learners; they’ll likely watch your videos and graphics to get the information they need. But plenty of website visitors will read the copy on your website. You want to make sure your website content appeals to all these different audiences and leads them to the ultimate goal of your website, whether that’s to purchase, donate or reach out for more information.
In addition to talking to visitors, your website copy is also having a conversation with search engines. When you use the right words on your site, you’re essentially telling these search engines what your business is all about. It’s also known as SEO. Just like in real life, when you communicate effectively, you make strong connections. In this case, search engines get a clear picture of your website’s purpose and relevance. That means they’ll be more inclined to show your site to the right people in search results.
How Do I Write Good Website Copy?
So, now you know what website copy is and why it’s important. But how do you write good website copy for your site? Hire a copywriter. We’re kidding, mostly. Hiring a copywriter is a great way to effectively tell your business’s story in a compelling way without having your own team take the time to do it. But we understand that not everyone has the resources to do that. That’s why we’re sharing our copywriting secrets!
Get to the point.
We put this one first because it’s the most important. From the wise words of Donald Miller, “If you confuse, you lose.” You want to tell your website visitors what your business does as quickly and in as few words as possible. Attention spans are short, after all. We know you want to tell visitors everything about your business — and you can. Just keep that information to blogs and subpages. The pages in your main navigation should be easy to understand and lead your visitor to the desired outcome, like joining your email list, completing your contact form or buying a product. If someone wants more information, a clean sitemap will help them find it on your subpages.
Odds are, you don’t have everything you need when you first set out to write your website copy. You’ll likely need to get with different departments and gather information. This is when organization pays off. Make a list of your questions, and keep all the answers in one place so you have them readily available when you start writing.
Choose a naming convention that works for you too. There’s nothing worse than knowing you have the information you need, but you can’t find it because it’s named “Untitled Document (12)” instead of “HR Information: Careers Page.” Trust us. We learned that lesson the hard way, so you don’t have to.
Sometimes a deadline is the motivation you need to actually get it done. Not to mention that getting behind on website copy can put your whole project behind, and no one wants that. Our recommendation is to give yourself one week for information gathering. When you send out those requests to your colleagues, be sure to give them a deadline to respond as well. As far as the writing itself, give yourself two weeks. Any longer than that, and you’ll just put it off because “you have plenty of time.” Again, trust us on that one.
We don’t usually recommend you have multiple people or departments submit website copy for the website because it becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly that different people wrote them. If it’s not possible to have one person do all the copywriting, you at least need one person to make sure everything matches your brand voice. You want to make sure each page has the same tone and grammar. And all of that should match your other communications, like blogs, newsletters and social posts.
We can create a Messaging Guide for your brand that outlines exactly how people in your company need to communicate to use a consistent voice. We get as detailed as when you should use commas, when to capitalize and what styles to choose for certain words and phrases.
Edit, edit and edit some more.
Your website doesn’t have to be perfect at launch. You can always go back and edit the copy; or have our support team do it for you. But you don’t want to launch with obvious typos or grammar mistakes. Why? Because you’ll lose some credibility with all of those new website visitors. After you’ve edited and think everything is perfect, have someone outside the process review it. If you’ve been close to a project for a while, it’s easy to miss obvious mistakes. Our copy team is always here to review what you’ve written too. We are the experts, after all.
Now, Get to Writing.
It’s a great feeling to see all of your hard work come together in a beautiful, functional website. And we can’t wait for you to experience it!
And if your team is short on wordsmiths, reach out to us. We’d be happy to help your brand tell its story in a compelling way that engages your audience.