Writing for Your Business Website
When you’re thinking about creating or upgrading your website, you’re probably primarily thinking about how make it look great. That’s where most business owners initially focus too. It’s not that visual appeal isn’t important in a website – your customers do enjoy an aesthetically pleasing page. But it’s not enough to focus on the visuals.
The words are what make your website work.
Not in a literal sense, of course- that’s what code and your website host are for. But what draws in website traffic, engages your visitors, and converts them to customers? That’s all in the words on your website. That’s why they need to be written carefully and expertly – they’re the most crucial part of your site.
Writing for your business comes in two main forms. First, there’s the content that makes up the bulk of your website, which is meant to inform visitors and inspire them to take an action like getting in touch with a sales rep or making a purchase. There’s also any content that you create as part of your content marketing strategy – blog posts, articles, video show notes, anything like that.
These two kinds of writing on your website often overlap quite a bit – you want both to engage and inform readers, and both should be optimized for SEO most of the time. But they have important differences as well. So let’s cover how to approach both kinds of content to make your website as well-written and effective for building your business as possible.
Search-Ready Website Copy
In the competitive digital marketplace, your website has to do more than just look good to attract clients and customers. Your web pages need to have compelling content and copy – words that tell a story about how your business makes the lives of people like just like happier, easier, and better.
Your website copy is the best chance you have to make that impression on your potential customers – don’t let it go to waste. Here are a few rules to make your website content shine.
Keep it Short
The attention span of the average web surfer is pretty low. And it’s scattered too – it’s rare that people read web pages top to bottom like they would a book. And it makes sense when you think about it. It’s incredibly rare that a user is searching for information about your product. They’re searching for a solution to their problem. They don’t have enough interest to slog through paragraphs extolling the greatness of your offering.
They just want to know – will this help me avoid pain, or bring me pleasure, or fill an emotional need? And that’s exactly what your website copy should cover. The rest is just filler that will cause your users to quickly leave the page when they can’t quickly find the information they want, written in a style that draws them in.
Your website copy should be easily scannable, with a flow of information directed by text size and smart use of graphic features to draw your visitors through your content even if they don’t read every word (because they probably won’t). Can they get the main points of your page if they just jump around for 10 seconds? Then your page is working well.
Keep it Conversational
You want your visitors to feel like you’re a trusted source of information. The best way to do that is avoiding writing that confuses your reader: like using too much jargon, technical terms, or vague corporate-speak. The goal of writing website copy is to appeal to your readers by sounding straightforward and trustworthy.
How conversational should your tone be? It depends on what kind of product or service you’re selling. Adjust your tone to your target buyer persona. If you’re in the business of selling funny t-shirts to moms, you can be pretty casual. If you’re a B2B firm providing sales consulting services, you can use a more professional tone. But whatever your audience, it needs to be clear and flow naturally, and sound like you’re talking directly to the customer (because after all, you are).
Keep it Direct
Don’t try to play coy with information, especially pricing. It makes you seem untrustworthy – like you’re hiding something. There are certainly businesses where publishing a price list doesn’t make sense, especially for a services firm. But for most businesses, more information upfront is better.
Be direct about your product benefits too. “Saves you $200 a year” is better than “cost-effective.” Bullet points can lay out benefits in a form that’s easy for your visitor to scan. Make sure those points are filled with concrete information. Consumers these days are bombarded with claims that are too good to be true, and they have pretty good noses for overinflated hype. Only promise what you deliver.
Keep it Effective
The primary goal of your web content is to draw in your visitors and convince them to act on your call to action – buy a product, book a service, become a customer. But your visitors won’t get to your site at all without an effective marketing strategy.
Every piece of online content you create, including your website copy, should be optimized for search engines. It’s possible to write for both search engines and human beings, but you might need an expert to get it right. Then add in your blog posts you write as part of your content marketing. Those need to be SEO friendly, and they should link back to your main web pages to give you additional search engine credibility.
Don’t forget to share all this great content on your social media channels. Social shares are a factor in search engine rankings so you don’t want to miss out on that additional ranking boost.
Writing Website Pages
These rules cover every piece of your static website content. That means your basic pages like your homepage (great copy is especially critical here), your about us page, pages that describe your products and services, and even your contact page. Any space that your customers can find and visit should be written with excellence and these four rules in mind.
Fortunately, with most of these pages you just need to write them once and they will keep performing well, with only occasional updates needed.
Want to take your website content to the next level? It’s time to tackle SEO – a concept that intimidates many business owners, but is actually pretty intuitive once you start learning about it. SEO writing is critical for your content marketing efforts, but it’s also a best practice to incorporate SEO into writing for your main business pages as well. Anything that helps search engines and people find you and learn what your business is all about is worth investing time, and possibly money, into. Let’s learn more.
SEO Writing for Results
There’s both a science and an art to writing for search engine optimization. SEO writing used to mean just stuffing as many keywords as possible into your website or blog post and waiting for the results to roll in. But as search engines like Google and Bing have gotten smarter, SEO writing has evolved as well.
What is SEO Writing?
SEO writing is the art of writing content – web pages, blog posts, or landing pages – that contains phrases or keywords search engine users are searching for frequently. You want to use targeted, specific keywords to help search engines find and rank the webpages.
But since search engines have gotten smarter, they’re also trying to send their users to sites that offer relevant and helpful information. That means they’re looking at data like how long users spend on your page once they get there. If they leave quickly because they don’t find what they need, you’ll have a high bounce rate and your ranking in search results will fall.
How to Write for SEO
Writing for SEO might look like it involves a lot of steps. But creating content that ranks in Google and other search engines isn’t too complicated if you’re familiar with the core concepts of search engine optimization and committed to creating quality content for your audience.
SEO writing begins with the basics of search engine optimization. You need to perform keyword research for the topic where you want to create content. Look for keywords in Google’s Keyword Tool or use a paid tool like SEMrush to find keywords that have high search volume and low keyword difficulty (a measure of how much competition there is for that keyword).
Once you have your targeted keyword set, look for a few related keywords to use in your piece of content as well. This helps boost your ranking a bit and helps you avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing. Keep track of your keywords in a spreadsheet so you don’t forget your content strategy.
Now it’s time to start drafting your content! Remember, you’re not just writing this for search engine bots. You need to make your content engaging for your reader so they stay on your page longer. Write conversationally, in a tone that’s appropriate for your business. Tell a story in your content to keep the narrative compelling.
Your content should always be long enough to give an in-depth view of the topic. If your posts are too short, users won’t find enough of the information they want and they will leave the page. Ideal content length does vary by topic, but you will usually want to aim for at least 1,000 words. Avoid putting too much filler content into your articles just to make them longer – instead, see if you can add more information your users want to find.
And make sure you’re providing the information your audience is looking for when they’re searching for your target keyword. If your target keyword is “how to make pizza” and you write a lovely narrative but don’t tell your readers how to actually make a pizza, they will be left frustrated (and hungry for pizza).
Where to Use Your Keywords
In writing for SEO, you want to balance using your keywords enough without stuffing them into your pieces of content. That looks spammy and will earn you a Google penalty. The most important places to use your keyword are:
- The title and subtitles – and make sure your page titles use the H1 title tags so Google will recognize it as the title.
- The meta description – this is the few lines that pop up on search engines after your page title. It should contain your keyword but also entice the search audience to click and read further.
- Within the text itself – sprinkle your target keyword throughout your content too. This should come somewhat naturally if you’re writing properly about the topic.
- In image captions and alt text – photos and images add visual flair to any type of content. At least one caption should use your keyword, and don’t forget to fill in the alt text of images too.
Take Your SEO Writing to the Next Level
Now that you know the basics of becoming an SEO writer and creating your first piece of SEO content, let’s get a little more advanced.
Write on Evergreen Topics
Many of your target keywords will be trending or only applicable part of the year. “Grilled pizza” searches spike in the summer, and pizza trends come and go. And writing about these trends can be great for your search engine rankings if you’re using the trends to capture a curious audience.
But you shouldn’t follow the trends all the time. Trends are tricky to predict and it’s in their nature to eventually fade out. You should also be writing about evergreen topics – topics that don’t alter over time and that pull a lot of people to your website consistently. “Making the best pizza” is always relevant to a pizza-focused audience. Ensure you have a balance between following the trends and creating content without a shelf life.
Avoid Duplicate Content
Google (and other search engines) don’t like duplicate content. It can cause your page to be omitted from the search rankings because the search engine doesn’t want to show the same content twice. While it may seem tempting to copy and paste when you’re writing on the same topic time after time, don’t do it. All your effort in the rest of the blog post or article will be wasted because no one will be able to find your content. Always write originally and the search engine traffic will follow.
Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Your individual pieces of content are important for getting search engine traffic. But your SEO writing will be most effective if it’s part of a larger content marketing plan.
What is your overall strategy for creating content for your business website? Are you looking to get lots of users into the top of your marketing funnel as well as being found by search engines? Who is the target audience you’re creating this content for – and are they the same audience that you want to buy your products or services? Are you creating content on a one-off basis or do you have a content plan for the whole year that each piece fits into?
Every expert content marketer knows that content is part of a larger plan. Develop that plan before you start writing a lot, or you could be wasting valuable time. Creating great SEO content takes a lot of effort, after all.
Measure Your Results
If you’re just writing your blog posts, publishing them, and hoping they perform well, you’re not doing enough. You need to be measuring the performance of each post or web page. You can use Google Search Console to find a huge amount of data on how people are finding each page and piece of content on your website. And Google Analytics is a valuable tool for seeing how users access your content, from social media sites to searches and ad campaigns.
You should frequently look at the data for each post you publish to see how it’s performing over time. SEO writing takes a while to pay off – you usually won’t see huge results in a month. It’s more like six months to a year. But if your posts aren’t performing as well as you’ve expected, it might be time to try some tweaks and adjustments to see what happens.
Search engine algorithms change over time too. You might see a big and sudden drop or rise in your content rankings – it just takes a little online research to see what’s happening. Don’t rush to make big adjustments based on a short-term drop. Patience is the way to win the SEO game.
Writing a Winning Website
Words are powerful. That’s especially true on the internet – and yet writing for your website can be difficult and confusing. Don’t just toss a few words on a page and call it a day. The rules of writing for your website aren’t hard to get right, with the right guidance and some focused attention to what your customers want and need to know.
Use Industry Experts
When you need a technical skill, you call in a technical expert. It can be tempting to just leave your website content to the graphic design firm handling your website rebuild and call it a day. After all, if it has enough buttons and an attractive color scheme, the purchases will follow, right? And maybe you think your content marketing just needs to be good enough, not great?
But bringing in copywriting and content writing industry experts will pay off in the long run for your business. And neglecting your website writing will actually cost you money in lost sales.
If you’re looking for writing that does more than just describe what you do and how you do it, call the experts at ContentFirst.Marketing. We have the knowledge, the expertise, and the professional copywriters who know just how to make your website content work for you.
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