Writing Copy for your Website
Good copy writing is an integral component of creating a good website. Your text is what Google uses to index your website so it is important that your copy is well targeted to search engines and your target audience.
Writing for web is also different from writing for print, as people searching on the web tend to be very task-focused and want to get the information they require as quickly and pain-free as possible. They will rarely read a whole page, “on the average web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit, with statistics showing that 20% is more likely.” 1
This post will help you to:
- Know your USP – Unique Selling Proposition
- Define your USP using the Why, What, Where, How method
- Using Trust Indicators
- Write your content for maximum impact
- Structure your content – every page must tell a story
- More tips and tricks…
1. USP – Your Unique Selling Proposition
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is what makes you unique and more suited to meeting the needs of the customer than another business. What special niche does your business hold in your customers mind?
Your USP should be placed in a prominent position on your webpage and should contain key words pertaining to your product or services. It should be short and succinct and should allow the users to understand exactly what you do and what your niche is in a quick glance. Your Home page text / USP is also one of the things that Google uses to index your website making it important to include key words that your customers would you use to search for your services.
For example, Federal Express emerged as a market leader after it identified that assured overnight delivery was its customer’s biggest requirement when using a courier service. It’s USP of Federal Express: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” has been incredibly successful and enduring.
The most important final note about your USP is that you must ensure operationally you consistently deliver on the promise and make sure it is incorporated into all aspects of your business at all times.
Your promise must marry up with your ‘ideal customer’ – your content must appeal to them, ideally within 1-3 seconds of them hitting your Web page. If you have more than one ideal customer, you need to go through this process for each one.
2. Writing your USP
Writing your words the WHY – WHAT – WHERE – HOW method2
Why? This is your USP. It’s the header; the attention grabbing line
What? What do you do?
Where? Where your business is located and/or where products are available?
How? How do your ideal customers contact you?
This is your call to action.
Restate the benefits in your USP here to strengthen your call to action.
3. Trust Indicators
Support your words with Trust Indicators that supports your USP. Users need to feel confident that your business is a legitimate business with a stable foundation and a history for delivery quality. This is particularly important if you are selling products online. People are wary of purchasing online with good reason so it is very important to instill confidence in your customers. Some good tips are to make sure you provide a physical address for your business and a landline. People will be wary of businesses with just a Post Office Box or mobile number, or worse still no contact details.
Examples of Trust Indicators are guarantee seals, security certification (i.e. Better Business Bureau, VeriSign Accredited Tourism Tick etc……), testimonials or accreditation to Industry bodies.
For example, on our website we have a small line at the bottom of the page stating:
Selected for the ICT agreement to supply web services to all of Government.
Members of the WA Web Industry Association and the Australian Graphic Design Association.
We also have a statement at the bottom of our page stating:”Celebrating 10 years in Business”
See www.mediaonmars.com.au to view these examples.
4. Write your web content for maximum impact
You are now ready to start writing your web content. From your USP discussion you will have identified key words around your product features, benefits, service offers, guarantees and anything else you identified as important to your customers. Use these to start crafting your content pages.
The idea is to keep your message as direct and simple as possible. Using the Inverted Pyramid Writing tool (see below) to make sure your text is structured so that readers can get the information they need in a quick glance with additional information towards the end.
Direct, succinct communication is the key to getting the desired result, so when writing, think like a news reporter: start with the main point and then follow with the details (but not too many). Remember Less is More when it comes to writing content for websites.
Ref: Pennsylvania State University, January 2011
5. Structuring your Content
An important tip when it comes to content is that all pages of your site need to be considered potential landing pages.
For example, if someone types “contact media on mars” the landing page will be the contacts page, not the home page. You must then consider that all your pages could be a ‘home page’ for your company, so all should be clearly branded, have a clear headline with content that includes relevant keywords.
To keep you focused make sure each page clearly defines:
- What you are offering?
- Who will it appeal to and why are they interested?
- What do they need to do?
If you are selling products online, then from the landing page to the sale must be no more than three clicks and the call to action must be clearly defined at the top of the page. This enables people familiar with your site to get what they are looking for quickly.
6. More tips and tricks…
- Use bullet points and short sentences – people are scanning, not reading your content so make it easy to read.
- Ask questions that relate to their needs – for example “do you want flawless, younger-looking skin?”
- Structure content as you would a normal document with a clear path and message.
Tell them what you will tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them, with the first sentence of each paragraph outlining what it is about.
- Give something for nothing – a subscription to a newsletter, free report or bonus offer for buying online works well and helps you also build your customer database.
- Use testimonials and Trust Indicators to increase the trust and credibility of your site.
- Use lots of white space and do not write too much content – LESS IS MORE!!!
- Provide links to printable PDF’S when large amounts of information are required.
- PROOF READ. Your website must use impeccable grammar. One of the fastest way to lose the trust of your customers is to have spelling errors and/or sloppy grammar.