Essential tasks before writing your website copy

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I write a lot of website copy and quite frankly, there can be more work to do before you start being creative. Think about decorating a room. It’s just the same. The quality of the finish is in the preparation. Your “finish” is a website that engages; and prompts action. So, here’s a list of those essential tasks.

Who are you writing for?

"My customers and prospects, silly!" Hmmm, ok, let’s break this down.

Naturally, you’ll want to tell everyone what a great company you are. Whoever wants to listen eh?

But a more effective website will be developed with a specific target audience in mind. And the more you know about yours, the stronger your message.

So, let’s look again. Maybe 70% of your customers are small to medium-sized, owner-run cafés and restaurants. You know that your contact is generally the owner. You know that his biggest challenge is finding time to leave front-of-house and focus on managing his ordering. Storage space is generally limited too, so he needs to buy a range of items in small pack sizes.

That’s better! This is powerful stuff now. Do you get my point?

What’s your value proposition?

Knowing exactly how you benefit your target customer is the next thing to clarify. You don’t just sell products and services. You solve problems, you assist business, you add value – rationally and sometimes, emotionally.

Getting to the essence of the value you give customers really matters. If you can make this abundantly clear in your copy, you’re streaks ahead of your competitors.

Consider your tone of voice too; it should reflect the character of your company. This must be projected into your copy to ensure consistency; and a strong message.

Look at your competitors

It’s a great idea to take a fresh look at your competition, ahead of any new work on your website. What are they up to? How clear is their proposition? Is it the same as yours? How can you stand out?

There are many questions to ask. Just be sure that you understand the other companies sitting in the same space as you.

Get your keyword research done

Some web companies will guide you on this. Many won’t. And yet, for your SEO, it’s important to be clear right from the start.

There are simple and complex methods of undertaking keyword research. From Googling likely searches to see who comes up, to involving an SEO specialist (a trusted service that I incorporate for many clients).

The right keywords will depend on relevancy, competitiveness, search volume and trending. Independent research can throw up some clever surprises too.

Once you have them (and that’s a task in itself), you need to allocate them to the right pages of your website and ensure that you incorporate them correctly; in your headings and your copy.

But a word of warning. NEVER write for SEO alone. Write for your reader first and SEO second. If both objectives work, great. If not, value your reader’s engagement with your company first.

Are you clear on your structure?

You need a plan. You really do. Each web page needs to be structured so that it flows through the message to the right outcome.

And we don’t want waffle, or confusion along the way.

To avoid doing just that, I’ll be clear. You need a plan!

What do you want them to do?

They read your web page. Then what? Call you? Buy something? Read something else?

Make it easy for them to know what you’d like. We term it a “call to action” (CTA). An annoying phrase but it makes the point. Every core page should have one; or two if need be.

Take them by the hand and lead them there.

The job of your home page

I’d recommend that you always write your home page last. Depending on the level of traffic you anticipate coming to this page (some may enter on other ranked pages), it’s the start of everything. It’s where they need to “get it”. And fast. If they don’t, they’ll be off (or “bounce”) and find your competitor instead.

Have you got what it takes to write your website copy?

You’re free to be as creative as hell. But it generally won’t work to slap up some previously written brochure copy onto you site and sit back.

Readers have a much shorter attention span on websites. Sentences need to be concise, complex dialogue should be avoided and the points must be clear. If you’re one of those people that likes to tell them everything, think again.

Your core pages at least, should be succinct. Save the longer explanations for case studies, knowledge articles, white papers and blogs. Even good old-fashioned telephone conversations.

Cold feet? You’re certainly not the first. I write website copy for businesses like yours. Businesses that know how important it is.

Let me ask you a question.

Do you want your website to tick the box, or do you want your website to generate more interest in your business? I know my answer.

Call me.

Let’s chat and see if I can help you with this project.